Advances and opportunities in integrating economic and environmental performance of renewable products

Samir Meramo, Peter Fantke, Sumesh Sukumara*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review

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Abstract

There is a growing global need to transition from a fossil-based to a bio-based economy to produce fuels, chemicals, food, and materials. In the specific context of industrial biotechnology, a successful transition toward a sustainable development requires not only steering investment toward a bioeconomy, but also responsibly introducing bio-based products with lower footprints and competitive market prices. A comprehensive sustainability assessment framework applied along various research stages to guide bio-based product development is urgently needed but currently missing. To support holistic approaches to strengthen the global bioeconomy, the present study discusses methodologies and provides perspectives on the successful integration of economic and environmental performance aspects to guide product innovation in biotechnology. Efforts on quantifying the economic and environmental performance of bio-based products are analyzed to highlight recent trends, challenges, and opportunities. We critically analyze methods to integrate Techno-Economic Assessment (TEA) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as example tools that can be used to broaden the scope of assessing biotechnology systems performance. We highlight the lack of social assessment aspects in existing frameworks. Data need for jointly applying TEA and LCA of succinic acid as example commodity chemical are assessed at various Technology readiness levels (TRLs) to illustrate the relevance of the level of integration and show the benefits of the use of combined assessments. The analysis confirms that the implementation of integrated TEA and LCA at lower TRLs will provide more freedom to improve bio-based product’s sustainability performance. Consequently, optimizing the system across TRLs will guide sustainability-driven innovation in new biotechnologies transforming renewable feedstock into valuable bio-based products.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels and Bioproducts
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Bio-based products
  • Bioprocess optimization
  • Biotechnology
  • Life cycle
  • Sustainability assessment
  • Technology readiness levels

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