Biorefineries: Industrial Innovation and Tendencies

  • Juan Castilla-ArchillaEmail author
  • Vincent O’Flaherty
  • Piet N. L. Lens


Biological processes like fermentation processes for cheese, beer or wine have been used since ancient time until nowadays with the development of biorefineries as a hub of technologies for obtaining a different range of final products. This chapter analysed the development of bioprocesses to treat organic wastes over time to achieve the current biorefinery industry, with a focus on collaborations, partnerships and joint ventures between different industries and sectors. The classification of biorefineries was done by the origin of the raw material used as a feed stock, classifying them in first, second and third generation. Starting with the production of ethanol using crops, nowadays more sophisticated technologies relying on genetic engineering tools are used to achieve higher-value compounds, such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food industry commodities and chemical building blocks to make the biorefinery technologies profitable.


Biorefinery Innovation Tendencies Trends Bioethanol Biopolymers Biochemical building blocks Microalgae 



The authors are grateful for the support and advices provided by Mr. Pádraic ÓhUiginn and Dr. Tania Palmeiro (National University of Ireland, Galway). This work was supported by the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Professorship Innovative Energy Technologies for Biofuels, Bioenergy and a Sustainable Irish Bioeconomy (IETSBIO3).


  1. Acien FG (2017) Sustainable integrated Algae Biorefinery for the production of bioactive compounds for Agriculture aNd Aquaculture (SABANA). 10th World Congress of Chemical Engineering, Barcelona, p 17Google Scholar
  2. Additives For Polymers (2012) Metabolix offers new bio-based PHA polymeric modifiers to improve PVC performance. Addit Polym 2012(12):1–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Additives For Polymers (2014) Metabolix dissolves German subsidiary and focuses on PHA-based additives business. Addit Polym 2014(12):7–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Additives For Polymers (2016) Metabolix and CJ CheilJedang sign MOU to construct PHA production unit. Addit Polym 2016(6):9Google Scholar
  5. Algae Biomass Organization (2015) Algae Industry Project Book 2015Google Scholar
  6. Algenol (2010) Algenol integrated biorefinery for producing ethanol from hybrid algae.
  7. Amorim H, Lopes M (2005) Ethanol production in a petroleum dependent world: the Brazilian experience. Sugar J 2005:11–14Google Scholar
  8. Anastas PT, Warner JC (1998) Green chemistry: theory and practice. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Andersen M, Kiel P (2000) Integrated utilisation of green biomass in the green biorefinery. Ind Crop Prod 11(2):129–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Avantium (2013) ALPLA joins The Coca-Cola Company and Danone in Avantium’s PEF bottle development.
  11. Avantium (2018) PEF pilot phase set to be extended. Avantium, Amsterdam. Scholar
  12. Bailey A (2015) Algenol ethanol plant will have capacity to produce 18 MMgy. Ethanol Producer Magazine.
  13. Basf (2016) Synvina: Joint venture of BASF and Avantium established. Basf, Ludwigshafen and Amsterdam. Scholar
  14. BetaRenewables (2013) Crescentino’s biorefinery grand opening.
  15. BetaRenewables (2018) Proesa™/What is it?. Accessed April 2018
  16. Bio-on (2015a) Agreement to realise the first France-based facility for producing PHAs biopolymers from sugar beet co-products. Bio-on, Paris and BolognaGoogle Scholar
  17. Bio-on (2015b) World first facility for producing bioplastic from biodiesel co-product glycerol, to be realised in Italy. Industrial licence granted. Bio-on, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  18. Bio-on (2015c) World wide project minerv SUPERTOYS. Accessed April 2018
  19. Bio-on (2017a) Bio-on’s minerv bio cosmetics bioplastic obtains international NATRUE certification.
  20. Bio-on (2017b) Construction begins of new bio-on plant for special bioplastics production.
  21. Bio-on (2017c) Project launches for sustainable low-cost production of levulinic acid, for the green chemical industry. Bio-on, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  22. Biorizon-Biotech (2018) Biotechnology, R+D+I. Accessed April 2018
  23. Bomgardner MM (2014) BASF plans pilot plant for bioacrylic acid. Chem Eng News 92(38):14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Bopp R (2012) NatureWorks® Ingeo™ polylactide: past, present and future. Biopolymers & Biocomposites Workshop, Iowa State University, IowaGoogle Scholar
  25. Bozell JJ, Petersen GR (2010) Technology development for the production of biobased products from biorefinery carbohydrates-the US Department of Energy’s “Top 10” revisited. Green Chem 12Google Scholar
  26. Brindle F (2016) Global bioenergies obtains a grant for renewable gasoline additives. Hydrocarbon Engineering. Accessed April 2018
  27. Brinkman MLJ, Wicke B, Faaij APC (2017) Low-ILUC-risk ethanol from Hungarian maize. Biomass Bioenergy 99:57–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. BusinessWire (2011) MINERV® PHA SC (Sugar Cane): the first 100% biodegradable plastic produced from sugar cane waste is now certified. Accessed April 2018
  29. Capaldo F (2015) GFBiochemicals starts levulinic acid output in Caserta, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  30. Cargill (2015) Cargill acquires OPX Biotechnologies’ fermentation technology. Cargill, Menneapolis and Boulder. Scholar
  31. Catalysts Fo (2008a) Sekab defends technology for making ethanol from cellulose. Focus Catal 5:5Google Scholar
  32. Catalysts Fo (2008b) Sekab switches to enzymes for production of cellulose ethanol. Focus Catal 9:4Google Scholar
  33. Catalysts Fo (2010) Green chemicals feature high in Sekab’s plans. Focus Catal 6:4Google Scholar
  34. Chemicals-Technology (2012) Algenol biofuels pilot-scale integrated bio-refinery, Florida.
  35. Chemicals-Techonology (2010) Avantium YXY pilot plant.
  36. Cherubini F (2010) The biorefinery concept: using biomass instead of oil for producing energy and chemicals. Energy Convers Manag 51(7):1412–1421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Cherubini F, Jungmeier G, Wellisch M, Willke T, Skiadas I, Van Ree R, de Jong E (2009) Toward a common classification approach for biorefinery systems. Biofuels Bioprod Biorefin 3:534–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Colling Klein B, Bonomi A, Maciel Filho R (2018) Integration of microalgae production with industrial biofuel facilities: a critical review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 82:1376–1392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Corbion (2008) PURAC-SULZER develop new polymerization technology for PLA.
  40. Corbion (2011) BASF and CSM explore a bio-based succinic acid joint venture. Corbion, Ludwigshafen and DiemenGoogle Scholar
  41. de Paula FC, Kakazu S, de Paula CBC, Gomez JGC, Contiero J (2017) Polyhydroxyalkanoate production from crude glycerol by newly isolated Pandoraea sp. J King Saud Univ Sci 29(2):166–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Dias M, Cavalett O, Filhob RM, Bonomi A (2014) Integrated first and second generation ethanol production from sugarcane. Chem Eng Trans 37:445–450Google Scholar
  43. DiGregorio BE (2009) Biobased performance bioplastic: Mirel. Chem Biol 16(1):1–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Dishman M (2017) U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) 2017 Project Peer Review POET-DSM Project Liberty.
  45. Dow continues specialities shift (2009) Focus on Powder Coatings 2009(10):5–6Google Scholar
  46. Duffield J, Johansson R, Meyer S (2015) U.S. ethanol: an examination of policy, production, use, distribution, and market interactions. United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  47. DuPont (2015) DuPont celebrates the opening of the world’s largest cellulosic ethanol plant. Accessed April 2018
  48. Earthrise (2015) Linablue® grand opening. Earthrise, Calipatria. Accessed 10 June 2018
  49. Earthrise (2016) DIC announces major expansion of production capacity for Linablue®—The #1 natural blue food coloring on earth. Accessed 10 June 2018
  50. Elliott DC (2016) Review of recent reports on process technology for thermochemical conversion of whole algae to liquid fuels. Algal Res 13:255–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Erwin V, Steve D (2015) Life cycle inventory and impact assessment data for 2014 Ingeo™ polylactide production. Ind Biotechnol 11(3)Google Scholar
  52. Fargione J, Hill J, Tilman D, Polasky S, Hawthorne P (2008) Land clearing and the biofuel carbon debt. Science 319(5867):1235–1238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Fava F, Totaro G, Diels L, Reis M, Duarte J, Carioca OB, Poggi-Varaldo HM, Ferreira BS (2015) Biowaste biorefinery in Europe: opportunities and research & development needs. New Biotechnol 32(1):100–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. FitoplanctonMarino (2018) Fitoplancton Marino: company. Accessed 09 June 2018
  55. Galletti GC (1991) Production and utilization of lignocellulosics: plant refinery and breeding, analysis, feeding to herbivores, and economic aspects. Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  56. GFBiochemicals (2015a) GFBiochemicals breakthrough levulinic acid technology ready for commercialization. Accesed April 2018
  57. GFBiochemicals (2015b) GFBiochemicals at BIO World Congress. Accesed April 2018
  58. GFBiochemicals (2018) Greensolres process. Accessed April 2018
  59. Global-Bioenergies (2015) Cristal Union and Global Bioenergies have formed a joint venture to build and operate France’s first bio-sourced isobutene production plant. Global-Bioenergies, Evry and ParisGoogle Scholar
  60. Global-Bioenergies (2016a) Global Bioenergies: IBN-One awards front-end engineering design to Technip and IPSB for the first plant converting renewable resources into isobutene. Global-Bioenergies, Evry and ParisGoogle Scholar
  61. Global-Bioenergies (2016b) The construction of the Leuna demo plant is completed. Global-Bioenergies, Evry and LeunaGoogle Scholar
  62. Global-Bioenergies (2017) First batch delivered to L’Oreal by Global Bioenergies. Global-Bioenergies, EvryGoogle Scholar
  63. GranBio (2014) GranBio begins producing second-generation ethanol.
  64. GranBio (2018) Energy cane. Accessed April 2018
  65. Hazarika M (2016) Metabolix partners with CJ CheilJedang to commercially produce specialty PHA. Accessed April 2018
  66. Hellsmark H, Frishammar J, Söderholm P, Ylinenpää H (2016a) The role of pilot and demonstration plants in technology development and innovation policy. Res Policy 45(9):1743–1761CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Hellsmark H, Mossberg J, Söderholm P, Frishammar J (2016b) Innovation system strengths and weaknesses in progressing sustainable technology: the case of Swedish biorefinery development. J Clean Prod 131:702–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Kann Y (2016) Biobased modifiers for polyvinylchloride blends [Online].
  69. Kawaguchi H, Hasunuma T, Ogino C, Kondo A (2016) Bioprocessing of bio-based chemicals produced from lignocellulosic feedstocks. Curr Opin Biotechnol 42:30–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Khanra S, Mondal M, Halder G, Tiwari ON, Gayen K, Bhowmick TK (2018) Downstream processing of microalgae for pigments, protein and carbohydrate in industrial application: a review. Food Bioprod Process 110:60–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Koukios EG (1985) Biomass refining: a non-waste approach. In: Hall DO, Myers N, Margaris NS (eds) Economics of ecosystems management. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 233–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Kumar K, Mishra SK, Shrivastav A, Park MS, Yang J-W (2015) Recent trends in the mass cultivation of algae in raceway ponds. Renew Sust Energ Rev 51:875–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Laird K (2011) Chemical recycling closes the LOOPLA for cradle-to-cradle PLA. Accessed April 2018
  74. Laird K (2012) Telles tale ends. Accessed April 2018
  75. Laird K (2018) Metabolix signs $10 million binding LOI with CJ CheilJedang. Accessed April 2018
  76. Lam GP, Vermuë MH, Eppink MHM, Wijffels RH, van den Berg C (2018) Multi-product microalgae biorefineries: from concept towards reality. Trends Biotechnol 36(2):216–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Lane J (2015) Algenol CEO exits, staff cut by 25 percent. Accessed April 2018
  78. Larson A, O’Brien K, Anderson A (2010) Natureworks: Green Chemistry’s Contribution to Biotechnology, Innovation, Commercialization, and Strategic Positioning. Darden Case No. UVA-ENT-0089Google Scholar
  79. Laurens L (2017) State of Technology review – algae bioenergy. IEA Bioenergy. ISBN: 978-1-910154-30-4Google Scholar
  80. Levy PF, Sanderson JE, Kispert RG, Wise DL (1981) Biorefining of biomass to liquid fuels and organic chemicals. Enzym Microb Technol 3(3):207–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Maeda Y, Yoshino T, Matsunaga T, Matsumoto M, Tanaka T (2018) Marine microalgae for production of biofuels and chemicals. Curr Opin Biotechnol 50:111–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Marc D, Anissimova M Tallon R, Marliere P (2015) Production of alkenes by combined enzymatic conversion of 3-hydroxyalkanoic acid. [Online].
  83. Marlière P, Anissimova M, Allar M (2015) Method for producing monoalkene by enzymatic conversion of an alkyl monoester. [Online].
  84. McCarthy A (2003) Metabolix, Inc. and Tepha, Inc. Bioplastics for industry and medical devices. Chem Biol 10(10):893–894Google Scholar
  85. McMahon J (2012) Why did Obama’s favorite algae biofuels company break up with Dow?. Accessed April 2018
  86. Metabolix (2012) Metabolix announces termination of telles joint venture.
  87. Metgen (2018) Metgen invents novel chemo-enzymatic route to FDCA.
  88. MIRACLE (2017) Multi-product integrated biorefinery of algae: from carbon dioxide and light energy to high-value specialties. Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Chile, Belgium, Portugal, Greece and Germany, FP7-KBBE-Specific Programme “Cooperation”: Food, Agriculture and BiotechnologyGoogle Scholar
  89. Morais AR, Bogel-Lukasik R (2013) Green chemistry and the biorefinery concept. Sustain Chem Process 1(1):18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Moreno-Garcia L, Adjallé K, Barnabé S, Raghavan GSV (2017) Microalgae biomass production for a biorefinery system: Recent advances and the way towards sustainability. Renew Sust Energ Rev 76:493–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Mossberg J, Söderholm P, Hellsmark H, Nordqvist S (2018) Crossing the biorefinery valley of death? A role-based typology for understanding actor networks’ ability to overcome barriers in sustainability transitions. Environ Innov Soc Transit 27:83–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Mudombi S, Nyambane A, von Maltitz GP, Gasparatos A, Johnson FX, Chenene ML, Attanassov B (2018) User perceptions about the adoption and use of ethanol fuel and cookstoves in Maputo, Mozambique. Energy Sustain Dev 44:97–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Nandy SK, Srivastava RK (2018) A review on sustainable yeast biotechnological processes and applications. Microbiol Res 207:83–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. NatureWorks (2012) NatureWorks broadens Ingeo product portfolio with Sulzer proprietary production equipment.
  95. Nizami AS, Rehan M, Waqas M, Naqvi M, Ouda OKM, Shahzad K, Miandad R, Khan MZ, Syamsiro M, Ismail IMI, Pant D (2017) Waste biorefineries: enabling circular economies in developing countries. Bioresour Technol 241:1101–1117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Novozymes (2012) CleanStar Mozambique launches world’s first sustainable cooking fuel facility. Accessed April 2018
  97. Novozymes (2014) BASF, Cargill and Novozymes achieved another milestone in bio-based acrylic acid. Accessed April 2018
  98. Novozymes (2015a) Novozymes and Cargill remain committed to bringing technology to market. Accessed April 2018
  99. Novozymes (2015b) Novozymes to supply enzymes to St1 Biofuels in Finland.
  100. Pannonia (2017) Pannonia ethanol corporate video. Accessed April 2018
  101. RFA (2017) Building partnerships and growing markets. RFA, New Orleans. Scholar
  102. Rizwan M, Mujtaba G, Memon SA, Lee K, Rashid N (2018) Exploring the potential of microalgae for new biotechnology applications and beyond: a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 92:394–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Rocha GJM, Gonçalves AR, Nakanishi SC, Nascimento VM, Silva VFN (2015) Pilot scale steam explosion and diluted sulfuric acid pretreatments: comparative study aiming the sugarcane bagasse saccharification. Ind Crop Prod 74:810–816CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Roux J-M, Lamotte H, Achard J-L (2017) An overview of microalgae lipid extraction in a biorefinery framework. Energy Procedia 112:680–688CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  105. Safari A, Karimi K, Shafiei M (2017) Dilute alkali pretreatment of softwood pine: a biorefinery approach. Bioresour Technol 234(Supplement C):67–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. Santos VEN, Ely RN, Szklo AS, Magrini A (2016) Chemicals, electricity and fuels from biorefineries processing Brazil’s sugarcane bagasse: production recipes and minimum selling prices. Renew Sust Energ Rev 53:1443–1458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  107. Schill SR (2010) Fagen begins construction on Hungarian plant. Ethanol Producer Magazine. Accessed April 2018
  108. Sekab (2013) Davy Process Technology Ltd and Sekab E-technology AB form strategic partnership.
  109. Sekab (2015) Sekab’s history. Accessed April 2018
  110. Simha P (2015) A policy analysis for pelagonia ethanol: regulatory implications, compliance gaps and uncertainties.
  111. Sims B (2011) Avantium secures funding to accelerate YXY technology. Accessed April 2018
  112. Sims B (2012) OPXBio hits key production milestone for bioacrylic acid. Accessed April 2018
  113. Siripuram R (2015) BASF terminates partnership with Cargill and Novozymes in bio-based acrylic-acidproject.
  114. Speight J (2008) Synthetic fuels handbook: properties, process, and performance. McGraw-Hill Education, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  115. st1 (2008) St1 opens bioethanol dehydration plant in Finland.
  116. st1 (2015a) Creating new business from waste-based advanced ethanol. Accessed April 2018
  117. st1 (2015b) St1 built a waste-based Etanolix® ethanol production plant in Gothenburg. Accessed April 2018
  118. st1 (2018) Accessed April 2018
  119. Stadler T, Chauvet J-M (2018) New innovative ecosystems in France to develop the bioeconomy. New Biotechnol 40:113–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  120. Stephan D (2012) BASF, Cargill and Novozymes target commercial bio-based acrylic acid process.
  121. Thyssenkrupp (2016) Reduced CO2 emissions and increased sustainability in plastics production: commercial debut for PLAneo® technology from thyssenkrupp. Accessed April 2018
  122. Tullo AH (2013) Hunting for biobased acrylic acid. Chem Eng News 91(46):18–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  123. Unamunzaga Escosura C, Mantecon Galvez E (2016) Method for obtaining a biomass of a microalga of the species Tetraselmis chuii enriched in superoxide dismutase (SOD). [Online]Google Scholar
  124. Vink E, Davies S, Kolstad JJ (2010) Original research: the eco-profile for current Ingeo® polylactide production. Ind Biotechnol 6(4):212–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  125. Vinuesa JF, Mirabel P, Ponche JL (2003) Air quality effects of using reformulated and oxygenated gasoline fuel blends: application to the Strasbourg area (F). Atmos Environ 37(13):1757–1774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  126. Vizcaíno AJ, López G, Sáez MI, Jiménez JA, Barros A, Hidalgo L, Camacho-Rodríguez J, Martínez TF, Cerón-García MC, Alarcón FJ (2014) Effects of the microalga Scenedesmus almeriensis as fishmeal alternative in diets for gilthead sea bream, Sparus aurata, juveniles. Aquaculture 431:34–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  127. Vonshak A (1997) Spirulina platensis arthrospira: physiology, cell-biology and biotechnology. Taylor & Francis, London and BristolGoogle Scholar
  128. Ward L (2015) DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) IBR Project Peer Review POET-DSM Project Liberty.
  129. Werner L (2015) St1 a new actor on biofuels in Sweden and Finland. Faculty of engineering LTH.
  130. Werpy T, Holladay J, White J (2004) Top value added chemicals from biomass: I. results of screening for potential candidates from sugars and synthesis gas.
  131. Wessberg N, Eerola A (2013) Basic value chain analysis for Etanolix® and Bionolix® bioethanol production by St1 in Finland: TOPNEST-WP3. Nordic Energy Research Accessed April 2018
  132. Xie S, Lawlor PG, Frost JP, Wu G, Zhan X (2012) Hydrolysis and acidification of grass silage in leaching bed reactors. Bioresour Technol 114:406–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  133. Zhang Y H P (2013) Next generation biorefineries will solve the food, biofuels, and environmental trilemma in the energy-food-water nexus. Energy Science & Engineering 1 (1):27–41Google Scholar
  134. Zhu L (2015) Biorefinery as a promising approach to promote microalgae industry: an innovative framework. Renew Sust Energ Rev 41:1376–1384CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan Castilla-Archilla
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vincent O’Flaherty
    • 1
  • Piet N. L. Lens
    • 1
  1. 1.National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway), University RoadGalwayIreland

Personalised recommendations