Impact of Product Diversification on the Economic Sustainability of Second-Generation Ethanol Biorefineries: A Critical Review

Vinícius P. Shibukawa, Lucas Ramos, Mónica M. Cruz-Santos, Carina A. Prado, Fanny M. Jofre, Gabriel L. de Arruda, Silvio S. da Silva, Solange I. Mussatto*, Júlio C. dos Santos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review

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The replacement of fossil-based products with renewable alternatives is today a major research topic. Biofuels, such as second-generation ethanol, offer a promising way to overcome dependence on fossil fuels. However, second-generation biorefineries still face bottlenecks that hinder their economic sustainability. These include challenges in pretreatment (formation of inhibitors and high costs of chemicals) and hydrolysis (high enzyme costs and low solid content) and maximizing the utilization of biomass components. To achieve economic sustainability, biorefineries can adopt approaches such as integrating first and second generation (1G and 2G) technologies, using different production alternatives, or diversifying the product portfolio. This last alternative could include the simultaneous production of biomaterials, building blocks, and others from all fractions of the materials, favoring biorefinery profitability. Techno-economic assessment plays a crucial role in assessing the economic feasibility of these approaches and provides important information about the process. This article discusses how product diversification in cellulosic biorefineries enhances their economic sustainability, based on simulation techniques and techno-economic analysis, with a comprehensive and critical review of current possibilities and future trends. The information discussed can inform stakeholders about investing in 2G ethanol biorefineries, including strategies, associated risks, and profitability, allowing better planning of different options of future ventures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6384
Issue number17
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • 2G ethanol
  • Biorefineries
  • Techno-economic assessment


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