1 Institute of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, Faculty of Engineering, SDU2 Faculty of Engineering, SDU3 Institute of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, Faculty of Engineering, SDU
Today sustainability, production potential and politics i.e. taxation, subsidies and ethical concerns are hot topics within renewable energy from biomass. Decision making in this area is complicated and decisions are influenced by both the history of the data behind the decisions and the background of the decision maker. An important issue is to ensure that all knowledge is taken into account when analysing whole-crop and complete production systems in stead of only using results from few studies of more limited scope. A way to improve our knowledge base regarding the use of food or feed crops for biofuel production is research in biorefineries using a whole-crop approach with the aim of having an optimal use of all the components of the specific crop. Looking at rape as a model crop, the components can be used for i.e. bioethanol, biodiesel, biogas, biohydrogen, feed, food and plant protecting agents. This combined with optimization of crop production logistics is a more realistic approach for the near future than only looking at i.e. production of bioethanol from straw. The approach can then be transferred to other energy crops such as willow or algae. Algae do not compete with traditional land based food or feed crops, but can be grown to produce oil or biomass for biofuels as well as a long range of products with huge potential as food, feed or nutritionals. This with smaller requirements towards feed nutrients and land use. Value: If biofuels are to be used as a substitute for fossil fuel, the efficiency of the production process and product use must be increased substantially for the process to pay off as well economically as environmentally. Our knowledge base must thus be expanded and improved to include large production systems of i.e. whole-crop systems. Such research will bring forth new knowledge on biorefineries and help decision makers in their assessment of the potential of biofuels in our future.