OPPORTUNITIES IN WISCONSIN FOR...
Ethanol, food products, and pharmaceuticals are familiar biobased products. Advances in biorefinery technology are creating the possibility for producing industrial bulk and specialty chemicals from biobased feedstocks, replacing chemicals derived from crude oil.
The economics vary, but some biobased products have cost advantages over equivalent petroleum-based products, while others are experiencing declining cost premiums. Recently, some government entities and private businesses have begun specifying purchasing preferences for biobased products, increasing market demand. These trends suggest the opening of tremendous market opportunities for biobased products.
Although biobased feedstocks can be readily converted to fuels, profits can be enhanced by first extracting the highest value components out of the biobased product, and using residuals as fuel. For example, a food products company extracts valuable food flavoring from pyrolytic bio-oil, derived from sawdust, prior using the residual bio-oil as a boiler fuel. Other chemicals obtainable from pyrolytic bio-oil are resins for binding wood composites, and specialty chemicals.
Some biobased products may be considered "platform" chemicals, from which many different products can be derived through additional process steps. For example, lactic acid can be produced through fermentation of sugar or starch. Lactic acid can be used as a feedstock to produce a biobased plastic, an environmentally-friendly solvent (ethyl lactate), and several other chemicals. As the product profile for lactic acid shows, the annual market potential for these chemicals is measured in billions of pounds.
Below is a list of prominent biobased products for feedstocks available in Wisconsin. The list is representative rather than comprehensive, and will grow and evolve to keep pace with rapid advances in technology. Each profile may be printed, downloaded, or viewed on-line. The information is introductory, with links and references to the individuals and organizations that can provide more detailed information.