Biorefining in a Circular Economy

Italian IEA42 workshop on ‘New industrial models in the bioeconomic era: the biorefineries’


On the 21st of November 2019 a successful workshop was held in the ENEA Headquarters in Rome on ‘New industrial models in the bioeconomic era: the biorefineries’. The program with the titles of the presentations can be found here

About 70 Italian stakeholders participated from industry, research institutions, technological clusters, and associations. The workshop was organized by IEA Bioenergy Task 42 ‘Biorefining in a Circular Economy’ in cooperation with ENEA and supported by Novamont.

The workshop aimed at sharing knowledge and having discussions at national level on the current status and future challenges of biorefineries within the bioeconomy. The participants were welcomed by Isabella de Bari and Gian Piero Celata of ENEA, then followed by an introduction on the Italian participation in the various tasks of the IEA Bioenergy TCP by Vito Pignatelli. Besides direct production of bioenergy, the development of novel integrated value chains for the production of value-added bio-based products is advisable and necessary, requiring the development of biorefineries, namely complex industrial platforms producing biofuels, bioenergy and other valuable goods from biomass. The use of biomass for the chemical sector could provide novel inputs to the development of chemistry in Italy not only as a contribution to increase the sustainability of the sector, but also as an opportunity to re-launch it in some areas facing severe crisis situations.

Session 1 included several presentations by international delegates of Task IEA42:

  1. an overview of Task 42 activities,
  2. an update of the biobased chemicals report,
  3. the role of future energy mixes on the environmental performance of biobased products and
  4. the newly developed Technical, Environmental & Environmental assessment method (including biorefinery factsheets).

Session 2 provided policy and industry perspectives on the following topics: Industrial biotechnology as a driver for the sustainable and circular bioeconomy, Set plan perspective for renewable fuels and bioenergy, an Innovative Bio-refinery for absorbent hygiene products, a circular approach to the bioeconomy to close the carbon cycle, the updated Italian Bioeconomy strategy and Biorefinery contribution to a sustainable bioeconomy.

An EU funded project, aimed at closing the loop for absorbent hygiene products, reducing greenhouse gases emission and increasing sustainability in Europe was covered.

The use of gasification to produce intermediates for green chemistry and energy is also the subject of a recent national project, COMETA, coordinated by Novamont. ENEA illustrated some recent national R&D projects coordinated by industrial partners including Biochemtex, Novamont and ENI Versalis.

Session 3 dealt with the research perspectives: Research and innovation in biorefineries (opportunities and challenges), Innovation in biomass collection and supply, Lignin in sustainable and circular bioeconomy (advances and challenges), Adding new value to bio-based products (biocatalysis for new functional polyesters and materials), Catalysts development for biorefineries and Biotechnologies for biorefineries.

If you are interested in the presentations of the Italian speakers please contact our Italian IEA Task 42 member Isabella de Bari (isabella.debari [at] enea.it).