All sorts of biomass are suitable for sustainable energy: industrial and public wastes, organic household, agricultural residues; garden and roadside chippings, clean residues of all sorts of wood and from forests; energy crops (energy plantations - e.g„ poplar and willow, oilseed crops, latex bearing plants-A.s'cVryuV/.v syriaca, a.s.o.). At present on a worldwide basis: 55% of all wood consumed is for fuel, 30% for paper, and 15% for solid wood products. From an environmental perspective wood is preferable to fossil fuels for energy, to agricultural fibres for paper, and to steel or plastics for material applications. We must take into account there is a huge potential to increase world wood growth through use biotechnology and modern silvicultural practices.

Evaluation of Resources

In the evaluation of resources, the following aspects have to be considered: evaluation of the removable biomass (green weight dried basis); energy content, energy potential; cost of biomass production at the forest roadsides and biomass user gate (including harvesting, skidding, comminution of biomass, transportation); ‘zero- yield transport distances’ - in which the total energy content of the crops equals total use of energy - the following maximum distances are mentioned: 600 km by truck, 2000 km by train and 10,000 km by ship; policies must be coherent, integrated and coordinated; innovation in plant and industrial biotechnology should be supported;

policies should support development of the whole supply chain; a communication strategy is essential; pilot projects have a role to play; measurable sustainability indicators should be developed.

Biofuels are more sustainable and environmentally friendly because of the reiterative cycles of burning, followed by carbon fixation by plants, and then by burning of biofuels. Bio-renewables are sustainable means of providing the essential products needed for society.

Biorefineries and production of bioproducts in developing countries could readily deliver social and economic benefits through the production of biofuels and energy for local use, integrated with bioproducts for export. These productive activities, based on market-led innovations, developing technology, and innovation would provide access to new and growing markets. Poverty reduction through the revitalization of the agro-industrial sector would the tangible outcome of the production of feedstocks and the development of bioproducts in developing countries.

The main topics approached at present in the field of biomass are connected with the following: sustainability and land use, biomass recalcitrance, development of new or improved biomass sources, better enzymatic and microbial catalysts, advances in the development of hydrocarbons and algae-based biofuels, progress in biorefinery deployment and infrastructure, and recent improvement in pretreatment, fractionation, and related separation technologies; an industry for the production of clean, renewable biofuels from agricultural and forest feedstocks has begun to emerge; the biotechnology can be used to convert the plant biomass, residues, and wastes in biofuels and biochemicals rather than food and feed.

Our studies carried out, starting several years ago, lead us to the conclusion that phytomass could represent a convenient resource of chemical compounds and energy, if the processing of raw materials is done keeping in view their different sources and different chemical composition. This technology allows us to separate each compound as a function of accessible resource, being similar to the petrochemistry, like refining. Thus using different kinds of phytomass, both in laboratory and pilot plant conditions, we have investigated various possibilities of biomass processing.

In this context, we have carried out the researches approaching some directions such as the follow'ing: (i) direct use of the individual chemical compounds isolated from biosystems; (ii) chemical processing of biomass and its components by destruction, thus assuring raw materials for the synthesis of polymers and chemical or energy resources; (iii) chemical or biochemical transformation of both integral biomass and its components (functionalization or functionality) for specific uses; (iv) elucidation of structures and functions of the natural compounds in biosystem aiming at using them in structures with advanced properties and at simulating their behaviours against physical, chemical, and biological agents; (v) ‘in vitro’ simulation the synthesis of natural chemical compounds (4).

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