I General Concepts

Waste Biomass: A Prospective Renewable Resource for Development of Bio-Based Economy/Processes

Surinder Kaur, Gurpreet Singh Dhillon, Saurabh Jyoti Sarma, Satinder Kaur Brar, Kshipra Misra, and Harinder Singh Oberoi


The sustainable socioeconomic development owing to the continued pace of world economic growth heavily relies upon a secure supply of raw material inputs for agriculture, industry, energy, and related sectors. The development heavily depends on energy, its applications ranging from home appliances, transportation, and industrial processes to supply commodities for our daily needs. To fulfill the energy needs, we consume nearly 500 Quadrillion Btu (QBtu) of energy, and majority of it (92 %) comes from nonrenewable resources, such as petroleum, coal, and nuclear and natural gas (Khanal and Lamsal 2010). Energy demand is expected to escalate by around 44 % by 2030 mostly due to the increasing demand from developing countries, such as India and China. However, today's heavy reliance on nonrenewable resources, especially fossil fuels, is increasingly constrained by economic, political, and environmental factors. The dependence on these conventional resources is also accompanied by a heavy reliance on chemical and thermochemical processes. However, due to the continuous and fast depletion of the conventional energy resources and the growing awareness and concern regarding the environmental effects of their utilization, there has been a major challenge in the recent past to identify and develop alternate energy sources. In this regard, the bio-based processes are growing at a faster pace, although currently their role in the global economy is trivial. There are increasing initiatives from both public and private sector interests that support the supply of our energy needs and other industrial products through biological processes and/or biomass resources.

Rapid increase in volume and types of agricultural and industrial waste biomass, as a result of intensive agriculture in the wake of population growth, food processing, and improved living standards, is becoming a burgeoning problem. The waste biomass being rich in carbon and other vital nutrients is highly amenable to biological degradation and emits methane and leachate. Moreover, the open burning of agricultural wastes, such as rice stubble by the farmers to clear the lands, generates CO2 and other pollutants. Hence, improper management of agricultural and agro-industrial waste biomass is contributing towards climate change, water and soil contamination, and local air pollution which jeopardizes the health of flora and fauna. Furthermore, this waste biomass is of high value with respect to material and energy recovery.

In the context of bio-based economy, the current chapter discusses the different sources, types, and nature of waste biomass. The overview of the different management strategies applied for the value addition of different types of waste biomass is discussed. This chapter also provide insights into the role of biotransformation of waste biomass resources for developing bio-based economy/processes. Finally, the chapter gives a brief summary of directly extractable high-value biochemicals from waste biomass.

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