From biofuels to bioplastics

In 2009, about 2 million tons of
plastics were produced worldwide… Largely dependent on the petroleum
industry, their production has become a true headache for our planet.
The EU is funding projects like BIOSYNERGY or BIOCORE where European partners are
finding ways to produce biofuels and plastics out of eco-friendly materials. The BIOCORE project aims to
evaluate the industrial feasibility of a second generation biorefinery. This involves using
lignocellulosic biomass, which does not compete
with the food chain, in order to produce biofuels
and chemical products. Within this European consortium, a
pilot plant in the North of France is supplied with various by-products,
such as straw and forestry residues. These raw materials can be found in
different climates and in substantial quantities, making the technology
applicable in many regions of the world. It is the only technology
in the world at this stage of development, allowing us to separate the 3 components-
cellulose, lignin and hemicelluloses- from thevegetable residues, cleanly and
without deterioration. It is the first time that all plant
components can be used for the production of biofuels or convenience goods.
The objective now is to complete the production process taking advantage
of the existing European know-how. We work with DSM,
in the Netherlands, who supply us with ethanol
which we will transform to produce ethylene and bio-pvc. This bio-pvc can be used
to produce window profiles or even blisters
for medicine packaging. 70% of today’s polymers can be
derived from biomass, instead of petroleum Thanks to the flexibility
offered by biorefineries, experts have enlarged the field of research
from biofuels to bio plastics. They have also made production chains
more effective and thus confirmed non-food biomass as a promising
source of energy for the next years.

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