According to IEA Bioenergy Task 42, ‘biorefining’ is the sustainable processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable bio-based products (food/feed ingredients, chemicals, materials) and bioenergy (biofuels, power and/or heat). Providing a classification of biorefineries, VDI standard 6310 distinguishes the following biorefinery concepts:
- Sugar biorefineries
- Starch biorefineries
- Vegetable oil and algal lipid biorefineries
- Lignocellulose biorefineries
- Green biorefineries
- Synthesis gas biorefineries
ifeu has been working on the environmental impacts of biorefineries since the 1990s and evaluated dozens of biorefinery concepts for biodiesel, bioethanol and biogas but also bio-based products. In recent years, a specific focus was put on lignocellulose biorefineries and algae biorefineries. Most often, life cycle assessment and sustainability assessment studies were performed.