The Future of Industrial Biorefineries

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World Economic Forum report The Future of Industrial Biorefineries pinpoints the key role the biorefinery industry can play in mitigating climate change and creating a more sustainable bio-based economy.

The report, produced in collaboration with Royal DSM N.V., Novozymes, DuPont and Braskem, says that the biorefineries industry could supplement demand for sustainable energy, chemicals and materials, aiding energy security. The report also acknowledges that a number of obstacles still stand in the way of biorefineries realizing their full economic potential.

The author of the report, Professor Sir David King, Director, Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, says "The emerging biomass value chain will create significant business opportunities and new winners, with technology- and science-driven companies with access to key enzyme and microbial technologies being central to the development of the bio-based economy. The growth of the bio-based economy could create significant economic growth and job creation opportunities, particularly in rural areas, where incomes and economic prospects are currently moderate, and in advanced manufacturing."

The report says that a biomass value chain could create revenue potentials by 2030 in US$ billion of 15 for agricultural inputs, 89 for biomass production, 30 for biomass trading, 10 for biorefining inputs, 80 for biorefining fuels, 6 for bioplastics and 65 for biomass power and heat.

The report identifies a number of technical, strategic and commercial challenges that need to be addressed before any large-scale commercialization of the biorefining industry can succeed. These include the need for significant advances in the development and deployment of bio-based technologies, infrastructure development, high capital costs and the issue of restricted land and biomass availability.

Sir David King et al, Oxford University, and contributors from the World Economic Forum
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