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Chemicals from biomass: technological versus environmental feasibility. A review

TitleChemicals from biomass: technological versus environmental feasibility. A review
Publication TypeArticolo su Rivista peer-reviewed
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsFiorentino, Gabriella, Ripa M., and Ulgiati S.
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
KeywordsBiomass, Chains, Chemical industry, Chemicals, Economic feasibilities, Economics, Environmental feasibility, Environmental impact, Environmental implications, Environmental technology, Feedstocks, Fossil fuels, Industrial chemicals, Industrial economics, Investments, life cycle, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Molecules, Platform chemicals, Sustainable development, Sustainable technology, Technical feasibility, Technological advancement

The production of chemicals from renewable feedstocks is becoming an attractive area of investment for industries in the framework of a more sustainable economy. From a technical point of view, a large fraction of industrial chemicals and materials from fossil resources can be replaced by their bio-based counterparts. Nevertheless, fossil-based chemistry is still dominant because of optimized production processes and lower costs. The best approach to maximize the valorization of biomass is the processing of biological feedstocks in integrated biorefineries where both bio-based chemicals and energy carriers can be produced, similar to a traditional petroleum refinery. The challenge is to prove, together with the technical and economic feasibility, an environmental feasibility, in terms of lower impact over the entire production chain. In this review, potential renewable substrates, conversion pathways, and target molecules are carefully investigated with reference to the most recent technological advancements. Potential environmental impacts and benefits over the life cycle of products are also reviewed. While an economic and technical feasibility can be, and sometimes has been already, reached, the same is not true yet for environmental feasibility, where several issues still need to be explored and the risk for burden shift is not negligible. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the opportunities and constraints related to the transition from petroleum to biomass chemistry and to draw a roadmap of the most sustainable technologies and promising biomass value chains, screening in parallel their environmental implications, toward a market implementation of bio-based chemistry. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd


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Citation KeyFiorentino2017195