The paper focuses on a current potential of bioenergy as one of the important forms of renewable energy. The opportunities and risks of exploiting renewable bio-feedstock are addressed from the point of view of sustainability of products and of related production processes. Specific attention is given to an overview of the recent progress in science and technology in the field of next generation biofuels from waste biomass. In this context, the integrated approach of agriculture and production of biofuels and chemicals/materials is the key factor for the viability of the merging bio-based industry.
Since 2004, the Area of Chemistry of the International Centre for Science and High Technology of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (ICS-UNIDO) has developed and implemented a series of projects in the field of advanced chemical technologies for exploitation of renewable bio-resources for production of biofuels, chemicals and plastics. These projects include research, training and capacity building, and networking.
Bioenergy and bio-based production is the topic of increased interest to developing countries and countries in economic transition due to the vast availability of biofeedstocks. For many countries there is an opportunity of improving the level of life through industrialization and integrated production on the basis of biomass. ICS-UNIDO is active in the promotion of international cooperation initiatives with partners from selected countries including CEE and NIS countries, Asia (India, China, Malaysia, etc.), Africa (Ghana, Tanzania, etc.), Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, etc.), as well as with centres of excellence in EU and industrialized countries. Counterparts of ICS projects and members of its international network include research institutions and academia, industry and private sector, as well as governmental, public and international institutions.
Several examples of research results in the field of next generation biofuels and bio-based chemicals will be presented, such as catalytic production of hydrogen from bio-based oxygenates, valorization of lignin by enzyme transformations, cellulose hydrolysis via enzymatic and chemical catalytic pathways, etc.