The Use of Agricultural Residues: A TECHNICAL AND SOCIOECONOMIC CHALLENGE for the Biorefinery

Araceli Garcia12 ', Cristina Sanchez1, Itziar Egues1,

Luis Serrano1 and Jalel Labidi1

department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of the Basque Country UPV-EHU, Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain 2Laboratoire de Genie des Precedes Papetiers (LGP2),

UMR CNRS 5518, Grenoble INP-Pagora - 461, Saint-Martin-d’Heres, France


Biorefining has been defined by the International Energy Agency as the sustainable processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable products and energy. The concept of sustainability, defined by the World Commission on Environment and Development, arose as consequence, among other reasons, of the energy crisis derived from the imminent depletion of the fossil resources. Thus, a global mindset change is required to face the present scenario, through the reconcilement of three important pillars: economical, societal and environmental issues. Since the current energy system results unsustainable because of imbalance concerns that will have environmental, economical and geopolitical implications far into the future, the sustainable development should be achieved by learning how to use/reuse our resources.

In this sense, the use of biomass as a source of products and energy is not new, but its use under a sustainable perspective may imply interesting novelties. With this aim, the Biorefinery outlook should be constructed fulfilling some requirements such as the responsible and optimal exploitation of resources, the application of energy efficient processes and the accessibility of the resulting energy and products, i.e., a compliance in terms of a viable, bearable and equitable development.

The available source of biomass (the biorefinery feedstock) determines not only the range of products obtained in the Biorefinery, but also the more or less specific technology and the optimal conversion pathway required for its transformation. These

Corresponding author: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

three parameters (feedstock, technology and conversion pathway) allow classifying the biorefining processes, and their combination offers a huge range of possibilities for the biomass exploitation.

The use of agricultural wastes in a biorefinery concept offers a promising perspective of sustainable development. The agricultural activity generates significant quantities of lignocellulosic residues (over 60% of the total crop) that are usually left on the cropland or incinerated to prevent the spread of pests and uncontrolled fires. Against the high availability of this biorefinery feedstock, some other issues appear concerning the use of agricultural residues as bioproducts source: volume variability, crop seasonality, low density, heterogeneous chemical composition, localized generation ... These factors are negatively considered when agricultural wastes are proposed as biorefinery feedstock.

In the present work, several crop residues (woody and non-woody wastes) were chemically characterized for determining their contents of the main lignocellulosic components (cellulose, hemicelluloses and lignin). Other biomass components, such as moisture and ash, were also determined. In addition, hot water and weak soda solubilities were measured in order to establish the treatability of these agricultural wastes in a biorefinery concept. According to the results, and after an exhaustive crop production assessment, some biorefinery scenarios were proposed considering different worldwide agricultural productions.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >