According to the definition of the European Commission, a bio-based economy - or bioeconomy - includes all industrial and economic sectors and related services that produce, process or use biological resources (plants, animals, microorganisms) or use them in any form. This includes agriculture and forestry, food industry, fishing and aqua cultures, but also parts of the chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, paper and textile industries as well as the energy industry. »Four F« represent the industries »Food, Feed, Fiber and Fuel«.
From crude oil refinery
A sustainable approach to the production of chemical products, for which there are no complete synthetic routes in nature, is the fullest possible utilization of biomass based on the principle of a refinery. The bio-refinery is analogous to the petrochemical refinery, in which a raw material is separated into different fractions and processed with different, sometimes successive process steps to a variety of products of different complexity and value added. In a bio-refinery, therefore, mainly platform chemicals and semi-finished products are produced, which are converted into products of higher added value through further conversion steps.
From petrochemical to biochemical processes
In order to exploit the full potential of the material diversity of plant biomass, biotechnical processes may be combined with suitable chemical processes. The aim is to design the conversion in a way that the resulting compounds are directly available as platform chemicals for the chemical industry and to use scalable processes that can be closely linked to existing production structures. Likewise, the integration of the material and energetic use of biomass - through co-production or cascade use - is a central target.
From oil & gas to renewable resources
One of the most common renewable resources are oil-based resources.
Vegetable oils consist of triglycerides, esters of glycerine, which differ in the composition of the fatty acids they contain. Due to the variable chain distribution, the basic products obtained from vegetable oils, such as fatty acids, fatty alcohols and esters, have different physical properties that lead to different fields of application, for example, as more thermally stable, low-viscosity products for use in lubricants.