As announced in the title, this book describes the state of the art of biorefining. Its speciality is the combination of various aspects. 85 experts from universities, R&D institutes, industry and commerce from all fields of interest related to this topic report on their expertise. Therefore, the editors try to perform a holistic view of this topic. The book is directed towards the technology and chemical principles of biorefineries, green processes, production, plants, concepts, current biobased product lines, as well as historical and economic aspects.
With regard to a sustainable society, in which biological feedstocks, processes and products will play an important role, the authors point out future directions as well.
The content is divided into two volumes. In the first volume different types of biorefineries are analyzed. The spectrum under investigation includes lignocellulose feedstock biorefineries, whole crop and green biorefineries as well as fuel-oriented and sugar based biorefineries. Additional technical and economic considerations are mentioned with reference to miscellaneous techniques used, for example thermochemical biological processing or the use of enzymes or combined processes. The second volume focuses on the chemical points of view with regard to various product family trees. The use and extraction of natural polymers like proteins or carbohydrates are explained as well as conversion methods to lower molecular compounds and their applications.
On the example of lignocellulose and its use, the complexity of the topic and its detailed description will be demonstrated:
In the first volume the principles and fundamentals of lignocellulosic feedstock biorefineries are under investigation. Historical aspects of plant development for the hydrolysis of biomass can be found. So the different types of conversion, acid hydrolysis and enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose as one of the main parts of lignocellulose are compared. But it is also mentioned that these early efforts to commercialize acid-based processes for producing products from cellulose hydrolysis were unsuccessful, because of low-cost petroleum-derived materials. This leads to a strategy for returning to a sustainable source of fuels and industrial organic chemicals which is described in detail. With regard to environmental benefits and cost estimates a comparison of petroleum and biomass chemistry is performed. This biorefinery strategy is combining the utility of multiple feedstocks with the utility of a wide array of conversion technologies.
In the second volume, lignocellulose-based chemical products are in the scope of interest. The chemical structure of lignin and the different conversion methods as well are the basics for the lignin based product lines. Beside various isolation processes for lignin, many different product family trees are described. The reader learns which products are produced from cellulose, hemicellulose, xylan, furfural, and lignin. Here, complete chemical reaction routes and all structures of interest can be found.
Referring to the role of lignin in biomass conversion, not only the low molecular-weight chemicals from lignin are mentioned but also polymeric products. One chapter deals also with the aspects of industrial lignin production. Industrial products derived from lignin are for example phenol-formaldehyde resins, antioxidants for lubricants, and asphalt emulsifiers. Completing this part, an outlook, future perspectives, and commercial aspects are added.
As all these different aspects are mentioned for each kind of biorefineries it is difficult to give a complete overview but hopefully one can imagine the great variety of this book. So, special thanks go to the team of authors that collected the state of the art and knowledge in this relative new field of science. Related to its interdisciplinary point of view the edition is a useful source for interested scientists, technologists, and engineers, and can be used as a reference handbook.
Sometimes the obliging reader will miss a stringent organization structure in some chapters. Also the beginnings of some chapters have substantial similarity with respect to basic knowledge or historical developments.
As all relevant topics of green chemistry and green processes are covered, this book will support the whole spectrum of process industry, including chemical engineering, process engineering, apparatus construction engineering, and chemical industry and biotechnology.
Dr. Heike Dieckmann,
Technische Universität Braunschweig, Institut für Ökologische Chemie und Abfallanalytik,
published in Clean 2008, 36 (8), 638.