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Scale Up

Scotland commercializing the biorefinery concept

May 6, 2016
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

IBioIC-logoScotland is planning the move from an oil-based economy to a bio-based future. A key principle of the government’s desire to embrace a more circular economy in the process is the broad application of Industrial Biotechnology (IB). IB applications drive Scotland’s “Biorefinery Roadmap,” specifically via the development and realization of a number of biorefineries across the country.

The Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) is guiding the academic and industry collaborations needed to drive this vision. IBioIC is a unique facility for the promotion of biological substances, systems and processes to produce chemicals, materials and energy.

Circular economy values encourage using all “waste” streams with the least intervention possible, and only releasing the carbon by combustion as the final option. The biorefinery concept embraces this standard by extracting the greatest value from organic feedstocks where fuel and energy make up part of a portfolio of products.

The Scottish government supports the notion that “stranded” resources should be unlocked with local solutions, such as local low carbon demonstrator projects, which show a local energy economy approach, linking local energy generation to local energy use.

In this area, IBioIC is supporting Xanthella, a small industrial design company that is working on producing systems to grow microalgae. They are championing the use of algae as a new high value industry for remote and rural areas by using cheap renewable energy to power the photobioreactors that are used to grow the algae.

The ASLEE (Algal Solutions for a Local Energy Economy) project will look at the technical and economic viability of creating a predictable demand for renewable electricity through manufacturing in remote and rural areas, producing a sustainable competitive advantage.

The project will also investigate how biomanufacturing can allow more deployment of renewables in these areas, thus improving the local economy, with scalability and a good fit with local resources.

The growth of algae matches these requirements, and makes the project a whole systems approach that incorporates a number of innovative technical and economic features.

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