Keywords: environmental impact, sustainable bioeconomy, climate change, forest biomass, bioenergy, economics, initial investment analysis, technology commercialisation, biofuels, renewable energy, rural economy, transport fuel, hemicellulose extraction, non-food feedstocks, forest bioproducts, bioethanol production, biorefineries
Assessment of hemicellulose extraction technology for bioethanol production in the emerging bioeconomy
Rising energy costs, climate change and fossil fuel consumption are driving global efforts to transition toward a sustainable 'green' bioeconomy. This pursuit of bioeconomy requires billion tons of feedstocks, development of biomass-based technologies and biorefineries under the overarching principle of sustainability. First generation ethanol has helped to effectively manage the increasing demand and global warming impacts of fossil fuels. However, future biofuels must be produced from non-food sources. Mixed hardwood, forest residues, pulp and paper wastes, and switch grasses are few of the lignocellulosic sources that can be tapped to produce industrial and consumer bioproducts. A patented 'near neutral' hemicellullose extraction technology for ethanol production has been assessed and improved in regard to its environmental performance and economic viability. This technology aids to convert Kraft pulp mills into integrated 'biorefinery' that is capable of producing not just the pulp, but also petroleum fuel replacements and other chemical products. The extraction process can be applied to a variety of feedstocks to produce biofuels, bio-composites, oriented strand boards, etc.