The production of biofuels can be instrumental in bringing an agricultural renaissance that revitalizes land use and livelihood in rural areas. Price signals of producing biofuel crops such as cereals, corn, sugarcane, root crops or oil plants to small-scale farmers could significantly increase both yields and incomes, securing real, long-term poverty reduction in developing countries that have a high dependence on agriculture. Large-scale biofuel crop cultivation could also provide benefits in the form of employment, skills development and secondary industry. However, if too much ‘first generation’ biofuel is made from these ‘food’ crops, food prices could rise, food insecurity could occur, and biodiversity might be threatened. Since these food crops also require high inputs in the form of agricultural chemicals, first generation biofuels often contribute to the increased greenhouse gas reduction emission. Moreover, where appropriate conditions are not in place, the rapid spread of food crop-based biofuel production may result in poorer groups losing access to the land on which they depend. Furthermore, purely from the point of fuels, many first generation biofuels depend on subsidies and are not cost competitive with existing fossil fuels. When taking emissions from production and transport into account, life cycle assessment from first generation biofuels frequently approach those of traditional fossil fuels.
Recently, second generation or advanced biofuel technologies have been developed because first generation biofuels are facing the aforementioned limitations and problems. The second-generation biofuel carbon is basically derived from cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin or pectin. The lignocellulosic feedstocks for second generation biofuels could include non-food energy crops specially grown on marginal land; green waste such as non-food parts of food crops (e.g. husks, straw, pulp, skin, etc.), post-harvest refuses and losses, forest residues (e.g. sawdust, woodchip, etc.) or garden or park waste (e.g. branches, leaves, weeds, etc.); food waste; waste oil; municipal solid waste; black liquor; etc. The conversion of these feedstocks into biofuels (e.g. ethanol, biokerosene, synthetic diesel, synthetic gas, etc.) usually involves high-temperature gasification or pyrolysis; biochemical pre-treatment to accelerate the hydrolysis process; microbial decomposition and fermentation, etc.
Generally, these second generation biofuels are considered more sustainable as the feedstock and processes used offer greater levels of greenhouse gas reduction and do not compete with food crops for land use. However, some technical barriers still limit the near-term commercial application of second-generation biofuels technologies. They include reliable long-term supply of biomass and catalysts (at a competitive price) used in conversion, low conversion efficiency from biomass to biofuels, large energy requirements for certain operations, and dependence, in some cases, on commercially unproven technologies. Despite a large future potential, large-scale expansion of advanced biofuels technologies is unlikely until further R&D lead to lowering these technical barriers.
Besides the technical challenges, there are two other types of challenges associated with pioneering a successful second-generation biofuels industry — economics and policy (including roadmap and strategies). The proposed workshop will primarily focus on technical challenges in consideration of the other two categories. And the said workshop is to bring together leading scientists in lignocellulosic biomass decomposition and fermentation, and high-performance biomass conversion processes for biofuel production; and concerned researchers from academia, agriculture, industry and/or national laboratories in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia. The participants will discuss the current state of the art and define the most important technical challenges and research activities that must be addressed to hasten the expansion of second-generation biofuels industry.
Development of Biomass and Biofuels Sector in Malaysia for Economic and Environmental Sustainability:‘Malaysian Biomass Industry Action Plan 2020’
Mr. Tang Kok Mun; Malaysian Biomass Industry Confederation
Energy Plants Plantation and Technic for Biogas Production and Utilization: Comparison of Experiences in Thailand and Germany
Dr. Sunpeth Camnuanthip; Thai Biofuel Professional in Europe and Institute of Aeroelasticity, German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany