Sustainable development of biorefineries: integrated assessment method for co-production pathways†
Biorefining is a promising technology for coproducing bioenergy and bioproducts to increase the benefit and sustainability relative to petroleum-driven products. Although several feasibility studies with certain valuations or materials have been conducted, a thorough analysis of the integration of bio-base products with sustainable bioenergy production is needed. This study conducts a comprehensive investigation of recently published feasibility studies on biorefining. Five challenges are found to be particularly important: system boundaries, technological level, allocation, environmental concerns, and uncertainty. A case study on 10 biorefinery pathways to bioproducts integrated with bioethanol (bioEtOH) is examined via a coincident feasibility assessment that concentrated on the proposed issues, as well as on certain technological, economic, and environmental aspects. When 25% of bioEtOH was replaced by furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), 15.3–16.7 MJ of FDCA per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) of bioEtOH is produced, leading to economic mitigation potentials of US$2.40–2.48 per GGE.