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The bio-based transition: bio-mass feedstock (2). 2nd Generation (2G) (lignocellulose)


CTO at Avantium and Professor of Industrial Sustainable Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In the previous issue of Chimica OGGI / Chemistry TODAY I presented the different feedstock options for future low cost, large scale chemical building blocks. I discussed the first generation biomass options (starch, sucrose). 

In this current column I would like to discuss the option to use non-food, lignocellulosic biomass feedstock such as forestry waste (wood), grasses and straw, corn or wheat stover and bagasse (sugar cane residue). These are called second generation (2G) biomass feedstock. What are the pro’s and con’s of 2G versus the first generation (1G) food crops? What biorefinery concepts allow “cascading” of woodchips to create a good fit with downstream chemical applications, which have different requirements than feedstock for ethanol and how sustainable are the options that are under development? 


For chemical applications, the only feedstock that is available today is 1G feedstock (food crops). The advantage of starch and sucrose is that these are refined (purified), well defined materials that have a very simple composition. Starch consists of glucose only ...

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