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7 Megatrends for the Bioeconomy

Submitted by on February 23, 2016 – 12:19 pmNo Comment

by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest)  Where is the bioeconomy headed? In the annual State of the Industry briefing at the 2016 Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Conference, the Digest presented a survey on that topic.

Here are the trends we spotted in the data.

1. Chemicals on the rise.

55 percent of those developing a bioeconomy project that will be complete before 2020 are aiming at renewable chemicals either alone or in integreation with fuels. That’s still lagging behind fuels (68%), but not by much. And, given that fuels are heavily supported by mandates and tax credits, it’s remarkable progress for green chemistry.

2. Going commercial-scale now.

55% of those developing a project before 2020 are developing at commercial-scale — that’s extraordinary. The days of “five years away, and always will be” are long gone. Yet, that could simply mean that there has been a collapse in the support of earlier-stage technologies — a paucity of breakthrough ideas, or a shortage in patient capital.

4. It’s the residues, stupid.

44 percent of projects being developed that have indicated a feedstock are using waste residues — primarily, agricultural waste such as corn stover or bagasse. By contrast, first-generation resources such as cane sugar, corn sugar or vegetable oils will be employed in 30 percent of projects, and 26 percent of projects are opting for new energy crops such as biomass sorghum or algae.

5. Drop in or drop out, baby.

80 percent of projects under development are focused on drop-in replacements for existing molecules — only 20 percent are aiming at molecules such as ethanol or biodiesel that in higher blends require infrastructure change. Of projects that indicated a specific fuel, drop-in renewable gasoline, diesel and jet fuel have caught up with ethanol and biodiesel as fuel molecules.

Interestingly, the average project is now aiming at an average of greater than two different molecules.  READ MORE

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