Derived from biological resources Bio-products such as materials, chemicals and energy, can replace much of the petroleum-based products. This is accomplished by the process of Bio-products engineering which pertains to the design, development, implementation of processes and technologies for the manufacturing of these products.
Biological resources include agriculture, forestry and biologically-derived waste, among other resources. These products are categorized in two broad categories such as conventional, and emerging Bio-Products.
The conventional category one includes building materials, pulp and paper, and also forest products. The emerging Bio-Products category include, Bio-Fuels, Bio-energy, Biochemicals, Bio-plastics, starch-based and cellulose-based Ethanol, and bio-based Adhesives.
Made from biomass these bio-fuels can greatly reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. Ethanol and bio-diesel are the two most common bio-based ones used for transportation, and for heating. Other fuels are bio-gas, bio-oil, and solid bio-fuels such as wood chips, cubes, briquettes, pucks, and pellets.
Bio-Composites are made from two or more materials that have different physical or chemical properties. When combined together they produce a material with different characteristic than the individual components. Fiber-reinforced composite materials are popular, because they are lightweight but strong.
Made from renewable biodegradable fibers produced from wood and agricultural crop residues, Bio-materials can be used for building components, construction, furniture industries, and also in the manufacturing of high-quality paper and textiles. Examples are stairs, decking, doors and shelves. Fiber-reinforced composites are also used for aerospace components (tail, wings, fuselages and propellers), boat and scull hulls, bicycle frames, swimming pool panels, racing car bodies, and they are becoming very important in the use of Orthopedic Surgery.
Made from renewable biomass resources such as oils and vegetable fats, cornstarch and pea starch, also from agricultural byproducts, Bio-plastics can be used for disposable and non-disposable items such as packaging, crockery, cutlery, pots, bowls, fruit and vegetable containers, blister foils, egg carton, and bottling for soft drinks and dairy products. Some non-disposable products are carpet fibers, car interior insulation, fuel lines, and plastic piping.
These plastics can be biodegradable if broken down in either an anaerobic, or aerobic environment depending on how they are manufactured. Also they are sometimes regarded as more sustainable when compared to fossil-fuel plastics made from petroleum, since they require less fossil-fuel for their production.
Starch-based plastics represents the most widely used, constituting about 50 percent of the Bio-plastic market. Pure starch which is able to absorb humidity, is very suitable for the production of drug capsules by the Pharmaceutical Sector.
Blended with biodegradable polyesters, these plastics are used in industrial applications and are able to be composted. They have fewer greenhouse gas emission when they biodegrade, and also have less hazardous waste than oil-derived plastics which can remain solid for hundreds of years.
Produced from bio-based products as a replacement for petroleum based inputs, Bio-chemicals are starting to emerge on both a small, and large scale. In the industrial field vegetable oils from corn, soybean, and canola can be used for the manufacturing of chemicals such as solvents, lubricants, waxes, adhesives, resins, and paints.
Bio-pharmaceuticals also known as biological products are plant-derived compounds and are distinct from chemically synthesized pharmaceuticals products. Examples of these biologic are, vaccines, antibiotics, drugs, or blood components etc. Since they are produced from medically active compounds in plants, their production cost could be greatly reduced making them more widely available to the Public.
Bio-cosmetics are manufactured from plant-based materials such as vegetable oils, starches, proteins and derivatives. Forest plant extracts, particularly conifer essential oils, are used in many different creams and other personal care products.
Other plant-based products are, body creams, soaps, deodorants, shampoos, sunscreens, skin care, beauty and personal hygiene products. There is an increase market demand for Natural Source Products, particularly as a replacement for petroleum based ones.Natural Resource Canada's
Bio-Pathway Project Phase II, estimates that markets from innovative Bio-Products produced by extracting maximum value of wood fiber from every tree, could reach $200 Billion or more. Wood previously deemed of no use is now being turned into products and services for a growing Bio-Economy.
The United States Department of Agriculture Bio-based product procurement program is to increase the US Government's purchase and use of bio-based products, which will create demand for many agricultural feed-stock for the production of these products.
It will boost the industrial base through value added agriculture processing, and manufacturing in rural communities. It will also enhance the Nation's Energy Security, by substituting domestically produced bio-based products for those made from fossil-based ones, derived from imported oil and Natural Gas.
For more information see Alternative Global Energies
See Bio-energy and Biomass