Environmental impact of an integrated biorefinery model processing cardoon

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Integrated biorefineries are the concrete tool to foster the transition from a fossil based economy to bioeconomy. This paper focuses on an integrated biorefinery from cardoon, providing oils from seeds, secondgeneration sugars (2GS) from the lignocellulosic part of biomass to be used for the production of BDO, and energy from unconverted residues. A process for the production of 20 kt/y 2GS was modelled and optimized. The layout includes the in situ production of hydrolytic enzymes. In order to ensure the energy self-sufficiency for the biorefinery plant, some energy recovery strategies were optimized. Detailed dimensioning and design was tuned for the industrial processing plant: each step of the process was sized and modeled in its technical features, with special regard to the power and thermal energy consumption. Finally, the overall system was investigated using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach, which takes into account all the main input and output flows taking place along the production chain. Since climate change mitigation and energy security are the key challenges for biorefinery R&D, present assessment especially regards with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and cumulative primary energy demand. The plant shows a total autonomy in terms of thermal energy demand (in the form of steam at 14 and 10 barg pressure, and hot water at 70°C), and covers about of 93% of total electric energy demand. As for life cycle GHG emissions, total contribution (cultivation, transport, and biorefinery) is equal to 0,67 kgCO2-eqper kg of 2GS produced. The work falls within the scope of the REBIOCHEM project, funded by the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research as part of the National Technology Cluster of Green Chemistry SPRING.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Forestry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal

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