Biofuels; Biorefinery; Flowsheeting; Process design; Synthesis
As oil is a fast depleting resource (BP, 2010), much is expected by the production of biofuels as valid options to replace fossil-oil transportation fuels. Biorefineries are not an entirely new concept. Many of the traditional biomass conversion technologies such as the sugar and paper industries are aspects of the bio-refining approach. By adapting some processes (such as fermentation of sugars to produce ethanol) these existing industries can develop into biorefineries. Following this skepticism, biomass is trying to act as a replacement for oil and chemicals (P. Nieuwenhuizen, A. D. Little, 2010). Lignocellulosic biomass includes agricultural and forestry residues, municipal wastes and greases. It does not require the cultivation of productive land and uses materials which are normally considered waste, such as wood and crop residues. This paper presents the efforts made through the work of BIOCORE for the transition from an existing paper industry (CIMV), to a sustainable biorefinery, by integrating and assessing diverse transformation processes. Tools used for this purpose, are systemic methods of composition and integration, optimization and process modelling. In design problems, for which there is prior knowledge of chemistry and products available, the synthesis process provides solutions at a conceptual level, defining the optimal portfolio of the products to be produced and enables a systematic partition of options by simultaneous optimization approach. Anticipating the development of new solutions and options, this paper outlines the major challenges for the development effort and the design of new biorefineries. The realization of biorefineries is not far from reality and can emerge from many conventional processes playing an important role in the energy game and the chemical market.