Bio-Based Materials Examining the Increasing Use of Bio-Based Materials

Author / Editor: Swati Deshpande / Dominik Stephan

In order to avoid adverse effects on the environment, companies nowadays prefer to adopt sustainable technologies. The use of biomass as a raw material for various processes is a result of such efforts. Here is an overview of bio-based products.

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View of a bio-fuel plant
View of a bio-fuel plant
(Picture: / nostal6ie)

The use of biomass as a raw material for bio-based products such as materials, chemicals, oil & gas and energy has received significant attention since the last decade. A new report titled ‘Biorefinery Applications: Global Markets‘ by BCC Research reveals that the global biorefinery applications market is expected to grow to nearly $700.7 billion by 2018, and register a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.6 per cent.

The biomaterials market is the fastest growing segment with a CAGR of 22.8 per cent. Worldwide, various initiatives are being taken in this regard. Contributing towards this end, Neste Oil and DONG Energy have joined hands to develop an integrated process to produce renewable diesel and aviation fuel based on agricultural residues.

More Companies Venture on the Bio–Materials Path

There are other companies as well pursuing the same path. Solvay and New Biomass Energy (NBE) have launched the production of torrefied biomass at an industrial scale in the US to provide an innovative and renewable energy solution. Torrefied biomass is similar to coal in terms of handling and burning capabilities and it is produced through torrefaction, a process that modifies the chemical properties of waste wood and biomass. Torrefied biomass can practically substitute coal and enable power plants to generate clean energy. Similarly, Dow has joined forces with Energias Renováveis do Brasil (ERB) to launch a pioneering project in the petrochemical industry: a cogeneration plant using energy based on eucalyptus biomass.

Meanwhile, a large number of research activities are taking place for developing biomaterials. Researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Singapore have discovered a new chemical process that can convert adipic acid directly from sugar. Adipic acid is an important chemical used to produce nylon for apparels and other products like carpets, ropes and toothbrush bristles. Commercially, adipic acid is produced from petroleum-based chemicals through the nitric acid oxidation process, which emits large amount of nitrous oxides.

Like chemical and energy industries, packaging industry is making efforts to go green with its materials. Tetra Pak has recently launched bio-based opening for gable top packages. This is manufactured using high density polyethylene derived from sugarcane.

* The author is Assistant Editor of Vogel Business Media India