Biowaste biorefinery in Europe: Opportunities and research & development needs

Fabio Fava, Grazia Totaro, Ludo Diels, Maria Reis, Jose Duarte, Osvaldo Beserra Carioca, Héctor M. Poggi-Varaldo, Bruno Sommer Ferreira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


This review aims to explore the needs and opportunities of research & development in the field of biowaste biorefinery in Europe. Modern industry in recent years is giving its close attention on organic waste as a new precious bioresource. Specific biowaste valorisation pathways are focusing on food processing waste, being food sector the first manufacture in Europe. Anyway they need to be further tested and validated and then transferred at the larger scale. In particular, they also need to become integrated, combining biomass pretreatments and recovery of biogenic chemicals with bioconversion processes in order to obtain a large class of chemicals. This will help to (a) use the whole biowaste, by avoiding producing residues and providing to the approach the required environmental sustainability, and (b) producing different biobased products that enter different markets, to get the possible economical sustainability of the whole biorefinery. However, the costs of the developed integrated processes might be high, mostly for the fact that the industry dealing with such issues is still underdeveloped and therefore dominated by high processing costs. Such costs can be significantly reduced by intensifying research & development on process integration and intensification. The low or no cost of starting material along with the environmental benefits coming from the concomitant biowaste disposal would offset the high capital costs for initiating such a biorefinery. As long as the oil prices tend to increase (and they will) this strategy will become even more attractive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-108
Number of pages9
JournalNew Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2015


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