Biorefining: The new green wave

2012-10-07 19:13
Ground crew examine the engine after the Chinese jetliner completed an inaugural flight powered only by biofuel from the airport in Beijing. (Ng Han Guan, AP)

Ground crew examine the engine after the Chinese jetliner completed an inaugural flight powered only by biofuel from the airport in Beijing. (Ng Han Guan, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Paris - Biorefineries and "green chemistry" seem to have a credible future built on a wide range of applications such as cosmetics, plastics and detergents.

The rise of the price of oil and increasingly restrictive health legislation covering dangerous products are giving a boost to green refining.

Some "green chemistry" factories, a few of which exist in France, break down organic molecules found in wood, grain, and oil seeds, instead of using molecules derived from refined oil.

"The regulatory constraints are such that, together with the current cost of oil, it is already interesting for lubricants, resins and paints," said professor Daniel Thomas, vice president of the IAR competitivity centre in Picardie and Champagne in northwestern France. He was referring to the use of vegetable material in the refining process.

The European Commission directive known as Reach, which is due to result in a ban or drastic regulation of some chemical products such as phthalates, also opens the way to economically viable options for the use of other molecules derived from vegetable matter, leaders in the field meeting in Paris underlined.

In Europe 34 production facilities are considered to be biorefineries. There are five big centres in France, and the tally does not include laboratories or test laboratories.

Thomas said that "green chemistry is not a theoretical concept but is already a reality." He continued: "But it is true that this reality covers also the fact that the market is dependent on the price of oil, and that this border line is going to shift and so more and more molecules are going to become worthwhile."

For example, in the 1950s the price of a ton of oil was one sixth of the price of a ton of wheat. In 2011, oil was three times the price of wheat.

A study by consultants McKinsey has suggested that half of the inputs used by the chemicals industry could be in the form of vegetable matter by 2030, with the development of biocarburants such as lubricants, solvents and a concrete-like material made from wood for the construction industry, or plastic for bottles.

Food crops

But this switch towards a chemical industry based on products from agriculture or forestry raises other problems: the use of land for purposes other than producing food could be a factor behind a rise of the prices of grains and vegetable oils and therefore of a large slice of what people eat.

These concerns recently put the brakes on the trend in France and possibly even more so throughout Europe concerning the first generation of products using the edible part of plants.

Industrialists in the biorefining sector say that they are aware of this problem. Their development model is based on a doubling of agricultural production by 2050. But they hold that the impact of their activities on prices is minimal and that on the other hand they offer solution to dependence on oil.

"Without the first generation of biocarburants, we wouldn't be where we are today, talking about the second generation and about biorefineries," the head of the leading French organisation representing farmers FNSEA, Xavier Beulin said.

He said that France was developing a model based on supplies of raw materials from fields and forests close to the biorefinery in contrast to a model requiring the refinery to be close to a port.

In the second case, "the raw materials are imported with all sorts of implications," he said.

The president of the IAR, Dominique Dutarte, observed that only 4.0% of land cultivated in France was being used for biocarburants, and that "not so long ago, farmers had leave 10% of their land fallow."

Read more on:    france  |  environment
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Bishopscourt - 15:57 PM
    Road name: Edinburgh Drive
    ACCIDENT in Bishopscourt
  • Tuesday Table View - 15:53 PM
    Road name: Blouberg Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS flashing at Grey Avenue
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900

The Blackberry Bold Touch 9900 is as the name says...

From R2999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come up to alert you of your security needs. It may be that you need to create a better structure for your finances...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.