Bioproducts are materials, chemicals and energy derived from renewable biological resources.  Non-food biomass such as crop residue (the leftover material from crops like stalks, leaves, and husks of corn plants following harvest) can be converted to biofuels as well as high-value products such as plastics, chemicals, and fertilizers.

Biomass is a very versatile energy resource.  While it can be converted to biofuel for vehicle use, it can also serve as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels in the manufacturing of plastics, fertilizers, lubricants, industrial chemicals, and many other products derived from petroleum or natural gas.

Made with biomass, these “bioproducts” can be produced alongside biofuels at an integrated biorefinery.  This strategy offers a more efficient, cost-effective, and integrated approach to the utilization of our nation’s biomass resources.  Revenue generated from bioproducts provides added value, improving the economics of biorefinery operations and creating more cost-competitive biofuels.

Making products alongside fuels is a strategy that has long proved successful at enhancing capital gains in the petrochemical industry.  For example, approximately 75% of the volume of a barrel of crude oil goes towards making fuels, corresponding to $935 billion in revenue.  In contrast, only 16% of a barrel of oil goes towards making petrochemicals. Despite the much smaller volume, these chemicals produce almost as much revenue as fuels ($812 billion in revenue for chemicals).  The Energy Department’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) is focusing on strategies that capitalize on revenue from bioproducts to improve the economic feasibility of advanced biofuel production.  Over the past year, BETO has funded several successful projects that have developed innovative approaches to the production of renewable chemicals and materials from biomass resources. (Source: U.S. Department of Energy/Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy)