Beyond biofuels

The rising price of crude oil and it’s chemical products has prompted a surge of investment in bio-based chemicals. For example, last months announcement of a joint venture between Solazyme and Bunge to build a 100,000-tonne sugar-cane plant in Brazil, that will produce tailored tri-glyceride oils. Ground-breaking technologies for bio-based petrochemical replacements are moving to major commerce, such as the recent partnership of Segetis with Georgia Gulf Corporation, to make plasticisers from cellulose via ketalization of Levulinic acid esters.

The principle co-product of biodiesel, crude glycerol, has potential to add value and lower the production costs of biorefining. In a recent review for Biotechnology for Biofuels, Yang and colleagues summarize the commericial uses for glycerol in animal feed and for bio-conversion into a range of high value compounds: 1,3-propanediol, Citric acid, poly(hydroxyalkanoates), Docosahexaenoic acid, lipids, hydrogen and other chemicals. Whilst biomass-derived glycerol has potential to replace non-renewable resources, integrated biorefineries are in need of improved methods to remove impurities and optimize biological conversions.

With these challenges in mind, Biotechnology for Biofuels welcomes Research and Methodology articles on bio-based chemical products. We have updated the scope of the journal to include a focus upon “Bio-based chemical products of fermentation” and look forward to seeing new results in this topic.

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