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Bioresource Technology xxx (2016) xxx–xxx

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Bioresource Technology
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/biortech

Review

Anaerobic biorefinery: Current status, challenges, and opportunities
Chayanon Sawatdeenarunat a, Duc Nguyen a, K.C. Surendra a, Shilva Shrestha a,b, Karthik Rajendran a,
Hans Oechsner c, Li Xie d, Samir Kumar Khanal a,⇑
a

Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering (MBBE), University of Hawai’i at Ma¯noa, 1955 East-West Road, Agricultural Science Building 218, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), University of Michigan Ann Arbor, 1351 Beal Ave., 107 EWRE Bldg, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2125, USA
c
State Institute of Agricultural Engineering and Bioenergy, University of Hohenheim, Garbenstrasse 9, Stuttgart 70599, Germany
d
Department of Environmental Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, PR China
b

h i g h l i g h t s 
Anaerobic biorefineries are a new approach for producing biobased products. 
Most organic substrates can be used as feedstocks for anaerobic biorefineries. 
Large-scale biorefineries have the potential to maximize economic benefit. 
Small-scale anaerobic biorefineries improves living quality in developing countries.

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 3 February 2016
Received in revised form 11 March 2016
Accepted 12 March 2016
Available online xxxx
Keywords:
Anaerobic digestion
Biorefinery
Bioenergy
Value-added products
Organic feedstocks

a b s t r a c t
Anaerobic digestion (AD) has been in use for many decades. To date, it has been primarily aimed at treating organic wastes, mainly manures and wastewater sludge, and industrial wastewaters. However, with
the current advancements, a more open mind is required to look beyond these somewhat restricted original applications of AD. Biorefineries are such concepts, where multiple products including chemicals,
fuels, polymers etc. are produced from organic feedstocks. The anaerobic biorefinery concept is now gaining increased attention, utilizing AD as the final disposal step. This review aims at evaluating the potential significance of anaerobic biorefineries, including types of feedstocks, uses for the produced energy, as
well as sustainable applications of the generated residual digestate. A comprehensive analysis of various
types of anaerobic biorefineries has been developed, including both large-scale and household level
applications. Finally, future directives are highlighted showing how anaerobic biorefinery concept could
impact the bioeconomy in the near future.
Ó 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Contents
1.
2.

3.

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Potential feedstocks for an anaerobic biorefinery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.1.
Lignocellulosic biomass. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2.
Municipal solid waste (MSW). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3.
Animal manure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4.
Food wastes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Large-scale anaerobic biorefinery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.1.
Biogas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2.
Digestate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2.1.
Carbohydrates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2.2.
Lignin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2.3.
Solid residues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.3.
Liquid effluent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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⇑ Corresponding author.
E-mail address: khanal@hawaii.edu (S.K. Khanal).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2016.03.074
0960-8524/Ó 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article in press as: Sawatdeenarunat, C., et al. Anaerobic biorefinery: Current status, challenges, and opportunities. Bioresour. Technol.
(2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biortech.2016.03.074

. . . . . .3 20. .074 . . . and biomass) have been promoted to address environmental issues such as climate change and local air quality degradation. .e. . energy security is also a major concern for countries that rely on imports of fossil energy resources. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2008). . . . .3 18. . .8 29. . . crop residues. . 5.g. . wind. . solar. . . In developing nations. . . . . and Laos among others. Among the various renewable energy sources. . . . . . . . The excessive use of fossil fuels has also been linked to several environmental issues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 1. . animal manures. power. . . . . animal manure. The CO2 emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels alone contributes to more than 90% of energy-related GHG emissions (International Energy Agency (IEA). AD process has been widely adopted for bioenergy production. . . .7 25. The biorefinery concept is analogous to a traditional petrochemical refinery in which multiple products are produced from crude petroleum. Introduction The global total primary energy consumption was reported around 524 Quadrillion Btu (QBtu) in 2010 (Energy Information Administration (EIA).7 37. . .. . The produced biogas is used for combined heat and power (CHP) generation. . biohydrogen.6 13. renewable energy technologies (e. . . . . 2014).9 18. . . . food wastes. . Moreover. . . . . . . . . . . . . One approach to circumvent this problem is to identify and explore alternative products/chemicals apart from bioenergy production by adopting the biorefinery approach.g. . . . . . . Acknowledgements . . biomethane. . . . 1. . . In the recent years.0 11. . . .) into biogas. . and Brazil among others. . . . .. . . while Germany alone has more than 8000 plants (EBA. . commonly known as bioslurry. 2013. Surendra et al. . . . . . . . and cattle dung) is used as a primary energy source for heating and cooking. . . . . .. . . Anaerobic digestion (AD) is one of the most promising biotechnologies for converting diverse organic substrates. . . .. . . . . . . . . . Technol. . Using biogas for CHP generation or transportation fuels is a well-established process in developed countries.biortech. .0 35. . . . . Conclusion . . . . . . Moreover. . . . . . . . . . . . .0 8. producing biogas alone might not be economically competitive. . . The biogas serves as a clean energy for cooking and lighting in rural households. . .. . . . . . . (2011) Cui et al. . . . . . . such approach aims at maximizing the profit by producing low volume high-value products while meeting the energy needs by producing low-value high volume fuels. . . 2015). . . and biobutanol) and a plethora of Table 1 The composition of selected lignocellulosic biomass. . . (2016) Karthikeyan and Visvanathan (2012) Elliston et al. . . . . . .. . . . . as well as municipal and industrial wastewaters. .5 38. . . .1016/j.e.. . . . . . . . in recent years. especially greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and local and regional air quality degradation. . . hydro. . . . . . . . .1. . . . . and paper wastes among others) is one of the most promising feedstocks for producing bioenergy (e. References . Cambodia. 2015). . this review also highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with both commercial and small-scale anaerobic biorefineries. . 2015). . and opportunities. . . . . bioethanol. . . . . .1 35. . . .g. . . . but low volume products (i. The renewable-based power generation in 2014 increased to 128 GW which is over 40% higher than renewable power generation in 2010 (IEA. Sawatdeenarunat et al. . . . . / Bioresource Technology xxx (2016) xxx–xxx 4. . . . . . . Bangladesh. . . . Thus. . . Challenges and prospectives . Lignocellulosic biomass Lignocellulosic biomass (e. .9 21. . . . .doi. . . . . .5 46. Currently. . . . especially in developing countries where biomass (e. . and conventional transportation biofuels) to achieve energy security. . . . 6. serve as . . Potential feedstocks for an anaerobic biorefinery 2. .. http://dx. .org/10. . .9 29. . . . .9 26. agricultural and forest residues. heat. . . .2016. . AD processes are becoming immensely popular for conversion of organic wastes (e.0 Teater et al. chemicals and drop-in biofuels to enhance economic viability of the system) and high-volume but low value products (i. However. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anaerobic biorefinery: Current status. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C. food wastes. . . . . . . . a biorefinery is a facility that integrates biomass conversion processes and equipment to produce fuels. . (2012) Monlau et al. .. . . . . .. .e. Biomass Cellulose (%) Hemicellulose (%) Lignin (%) References Corn stover Wheat straw Switch grass Rice straw Napier grass Barley straw Miscanthus Coffee pulp Paper waste 39. . . . . . Vietnam. . . . . . . and/or upgraded to biomethane to be used as transportation fuels. 2013). . . . . . . . . biomass has so far been the largest single source currently being used. . . . . . . . especially due to the volatility of market and price indexes of fossil fuels (Surendra et al. . . Small-scale anaerobic biorefinery . . . (2013) Reddy et al. .9 22. . . . .03. . as well as energy insecurity. . . . . . . . . China. energy crops. . . . . . Although AD technology had primarily been developed and adopted for waste stabilization.. (2012) Vasco-Correa et al. 2. . but there exists only limited studies primarily focusing on the anaerobic biorefinery (Maclellan et al. .7 37. . The energy consumption is expected to increase by nearly 50% by 2050 due to growing demand from emerging nations such as India. .7 33. . . challenges. and chemicals from biomass. . . .1 17. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). . . .g. .1 20. . . . . . . . . . . to energy-rich biogas (Khanal. 2015). . .. or injected into natural gas grid. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . et al. . . . (2016). . and lignocellulosic biomass). . .2 C. . There have been several successful examples of implementation of biodigester technologies in developing countries in Asia including Nepal. (2011) Teater et al. . . fossil-based fuels supply over 85% of world energy demands. etc. . The residuals after digestion. . . (2013) Please cite this article in press as: Sawatdeenarunat. agri-residues. . . . in which AD serves as a centerpiece to produce high-value.6 26. 2014). . . . . . . . . .0 45. . . . Bioresour. . . . . . .000 commercial AD plants are already in operation in Europe.8 33. . . . This review provides an overview of the anaerobic biorefinery concept and critically examines the recent advancements in anaerobic biorefineries. . . . . . . . 00 00 00 00 00 an organic fertilizer for crop production and as a fish feed for aquaculture application (Surendra et al. . . . . . Over 14. . . The anaerobic biorefinery is one of the biorefinery concepts. electricity. and outlines directions for future research and development.9 37. Recently many studies have discussed the biorefinery concept in general.. . . . . ranging from high solid feedstocks (i. . . . .g. (2011) Ye et al. . . municipal solid waste. firewood.

In AD of lignocellulosic feedstocks.g.6 8..9 9.2 million metric tons wet weight/day. Cellulose is a long linear chain of homopolysaccharides of b-D-glucopyranose. Anaerobic biorefinery: Current status.8 2. respectively. Lignin is a nonpolysaccharide component in a lignocellulose structure. 2010). bio-based products/chemicals (e.2 74 1 21 NA NA NA 1 Budhiarta et al.S. capital. (2010) Thailand 1. 2003). lignin provides rigidity to plant cell wall and is more resistant to biological degradation than to cellulose and hemicellulose. a simple and low-cost technology. Incineration is a combustion process for recovery of energy from MSW while reducing the volume of the waste. urbanization. the crystalline and amorphous. 2010) thereby significantly reducing required landfill volumes and the associated logistic costs. which link to each other by b-(1-4)-glycosidic bonds (Kumar et al. is only economically feasible for MSW with net caloric value of over 6 MJ/kg (Zhang et al.8 1. however.03. and lignin along with small amounts of other organic compounds such as proteins and lipids..5 17 12. 2010).biortech. has been the most common practice in disposing the MSW.doi. and competition for valuable land around urban and suburban areas. the high cost (i. Location Malaysia Kuala Lumpur China Beijing Shanghai Shenzhen United States a Waste generation rate Composition of MSW (%) References (kg/capita/day) Organic waste Paper Plastic Glass Metal Textile fiber Wood 1. 2.2 NA Zhang et al. Composting has been used primarily for waste stabilization with a more limited reduction in the volume of MSW. The composition of a selected lignocellulosic biomass is presented in the Table 1. and life style of people (Cheng and Hu. Typically.1 9.1 4. challenges.. which is often very costly (Zhang et al.. 2008). AD has a potential to recover energy resources from MSW. Also. and some acidic sugars.7 20 13 1.9 2. The AD of OFMSW can be classified into two main groups. and AD have been adopted for the management of MSW and recovery of resources. and acts as a binder. The incineration of MSW for power generation. Sawatdeenarunat et al. Lignocellulosic biomass is primarily composed of polymers in plant cell walls including cellulose. heat and electricity) via thermochemical processes and various bio-based products (i. biogas. The characteristics of MSW depend on many factors.15a 35. especially the OFMSW. conventional AD only generates single low-value product. deoxyhexose.. pectin.e. operational. the organic fraction of MSW (OFMSW) is biologically converted into a more stable products known as compost (Bernal et al.074 . Karthikeyan and Visvanathan (2012) estimated that the global MSW generation could be as high as 9. 2009). Chaya and Gheewala (2007) Based on the municipality that has the population between 10. Landfilling. http://dx.9 8. and coumaryl alcohol. 2010). the compost is a relatively low-value product.9 3.7 4. N2O and CO2) emissions. organic acids.5 1. the source. hemicellulose. thermal. A lower degree of polymerization and amorphous structure makes hemicellulose more vulnerable to chemical. succinic acid.e... Furthermore. Additional technologies such as incineration.1 7. The complexity of this form creates a resistance to biological degradation and significantly reduce its accessibility to cellulose degrading enzymes (Brown. (2016). the clean and stable solid residue following incineration can also be used as construction materials (Cheng and Hu. and more than 20% for D-AD (Karthikeyan and Visvanathan.e. However. Municipal solid waste (MSW) MSW is the refuse generated during daily activities from residential and business areas. and opportunities.. 2008).. Additionally. 2010)..8 3. Please cite this article in press as: Sawatdeenarunat. The quantity and composition of MSW generation in some selected countries are shown in Table 2. / Bioresource Technology xxx (2016) xxx–xxx Table 2 The quantity and composition of municipal solid waste (MSW) in selected countries. this conventional waste disposal practice has been associated with several environmental issues including surface and ground water contamination (Cheng and Hu. (2012) 0. pentose. incineration plants requires special off-gas treatment systems. alone (Khanal. biopolymer and vanillin among others) via chemical processes (Surendra et al.7 15.1016/j.2016. Technol. Zhang et al. and minerals (Frigon and Guiot. 2010). citric acid.6 2.8 5 1. The crystalline structure has a high packing density resulting from hydrogen bonding. 2010).4 66.1 NA Al-Khatib et al. including but not limited to. which fills up the space between cellulose and hemicellulose. The operating organic loading rate (OLR) of W-AD and D-AD are 2–5 and 5–12 kg volatile solids (VS)/m3/d. 2010).2.3 0. GHGs (CH4. et al. Cellulose has two different structural forms. The lignocellulosic biomass has a potential to significantly contribute to global demand of renewable energy and biobased products (Kumar et al. season. Incineration reduces approximately 90% and 70% of volume and mass of MSW. and maintenance cost) and need for trained professionals to operate incineration plants are additional limitations on MSW incineration..000 people. It is estimated that the AD of the OFMSW produced globally could generate enough biogas to contribute around 2% of the total global energy consumption (Rajendran et al. Bioresour.000 and 50. The monomer of lignin is a phenylpropane-based compounds consisting of aromatic alcohols namely. 2015). 2010. the economic and population growth status. AD technology has been applied to stabilize OFMSW and to recover energy-rich biogas. However.8 2.4 billion dry tons of such biomass can be produced in the U.7 40 11. Hemicellulose is another form of heteropolysaccharides present in plant cell walls. respectively. bioplastic. sinapyl. (2010) 2 14.5 27.org/10.9 20.5 NA Challcharoenwattana and Pharino (2016). location.).7 6. Lignin can be used to produce energy (i.3 EPA (2013) Palestine Nablus district 0.98 63..4 12.. and biological degradation than cellulose (Cherubini. C. lignin usually remains undigested. 2014).. The monomers of this compound include hexose. (Zhang et al. coniferyl.3 C. lactic acid etc.82 65. wet AD (W-AD) and dry AD (D-AD) with total solids (TS) content of the initial substrates being less than 10% for W-AD.3 3 2. 2012). During composting. Although. 2008). composting. It has been reported that globally more than 200 billion dry metric ton of biomass can be produced per year while 1.7 5 0.

8 112. Animal manure Animal manure normally consists of feces.9a Million Million Million Million Million References dry metric tons wet metric tons wet metric tons wet metric tons dry metric tons Perlack et al. food waste in general are low in nitrogen content and the Please cite this article in press as: Sawatdeenarunat.2 10. including water pollution.2–1.2016. (2013) Table 4 The amounts of animal manure annually generated in selected countries. (2009). urine. The high organic content and moisture levels make food waste an ideal substrate for AD. and leachate generation among others. This is equivalent to direct economic loss of nearly $750 billion annually.org/10.1 1.3–59.156 13.7 253.biortech.8 0.0–5. animal feed.2 NA 0. (2000) Chadwick et al. http://dx. VS). 2013). 2011).3. high organic content (i.7 0. (2015) Komiyama et al. C. 2007).6 NA 4. at the production level.0 2816. direct disposal into landfills.0 NA 15. Currently employed methods for food wastes management include animal feeding.. However. challenges.03. Alternatively. Song et al. while simultaneously remediating the waste.1016/j. gasification.074 . and last but not least. al. hormones and antibiotics. insufficient purchase planning. (2009). For example. 2015). phytotoxicity. compost is a very low-value product with significant emissions of GHG especially N2O and CO2 released during the composting process.doi. (2011) Labatut et al. This nutrient-rich effluent could be land applied commonly known as ferti-irrigation.4–0. (2011) Li et al. Qiao et al. However. / Bioresource Technology xxx (2016) xxx–xxx Table 3 The characteristics and energy potential of animal manure.. et al. 2007) makes the economic viability of the animal manure composting questionable. 2007). and presence of the hormones and pharmaceutically active compounds used in treating the animals (Ro et al. Bioresour. the careless attitude of the consumers. Algae farming using this effluent not only offers nutrient recovery but also provides an algal biomass for further diverse end applications such as producing biofuel (e. Technol.5–12. excessive GHG emissions. (2011) developed a struvite crystalization process which eliminated the need for external chemical addition which could significantly reduce the operating cost of the struvite production system. an average of 95–115 kg of food waste is generated per person per year. GHGs emissions. and chicken. al. Composting and gasification (for renewable fuel generation) are some of the alternative technologies for managing animal manure. and assuming that manure is generated 365 days/year. 2. Except for the waste from meat processing plants. Phosphorus in the form of struvite can be recovered from anaerobically digested animal manure and has potential to serve as marketable organic fertilizer (Le Corre et al. Gasification has the advantage of being able to handle a wide variety of feedstocks. including compactness of the system. a Location Year Annual amount Unit United States England and Wales China Japan Thailand 2005 2000 2010 2011 1997 31.g. and high-value phyto- chemicals among others.. Composting is a low-cost method of converting food wastes into biofertilizer. biodiesel and biomethane). (2005) From cattle.832 Bernal Bernal Bernal Bernal 15–33 22–70 et et et et al. In Europe and North America.8 291. Gasification of animal manure has merits. and sometime animal beddings and is one of the important potential feedstocks for anaerobic biorefineries.2–13.4 C. Food wastes Food waste generation occurs throughout the supply chain from initial agricultural production to final household consumption.8 NA 0. effective destruction of pathogens. There are several reasons for such a large generation of food wastes.. the excessive land application of animal manure can result several environmental problems. and the characteristics of the feed.. inherent presence of suitable microbes. both for producing bioenergy and for managing waste. At the consumer level. uneaten.e.. Incineration has high capital and operation costs. (2005) Chambers et al. Such practice of recycling nutrients not only improves nutrient removal from wastewater but also benefits agricultural practices by reducing the requirements of costly chemical fertilizer. However. swine. (2007). 2009).1–0.0–0. and opportunities. In 2011. Sawatdeenarunat et al. (2007). (2007). Animal Total solids (%) Organic carbon (%) Total nitrogen (%) Ammonia nitrogen (%) Methane potential (mL/gVS) Energy value (kJ/kgTS) References Cattle Dairy Swine Poultry 14–30 6. and reduced wastewater generation. food components. the effluent could be used as nutrient source for algal cell production (Sawatdeenarunat et al.. and biomass variability may yield inconsistent output with low thermodynamic efficiency. a study by the FAO estimated that approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption worldwide is discarded as waste.. al.0 3.8 139. representing about 1. growth stage.8 242. (2011) Qiao et al. Animal manure is usually applied to agricultural land as a source of nutrients. Anaerobic biorefinery: Current status. Landfilling of food wastes poses several concerns such as high land cost. composting and AD. The characteristics of animal manure strongly depend on animal species.4.. (2009). gasification is still a costly technology and requires a highly efficient heat recovery system to maximize the economic gain from animal manure gasification (Ro et al. The characteristics and energy potential of selected animal manures are presented in Table 3. residual. farmer– buyer sales agreements result in farm crops being wasted due to quality standards lacking perfect shape or appearance. al. (2007).3 billion metric tons waste per year (Gustavsson et al.. (2009). but much drier feedstocks are required. al. The effluent from an AD plant treating animal manure is rich in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus and needs further treatment prior to disposal to environment. The anaerobic biorefinery concept aims at maximizing the recovery of more diverse resources from MSW in addition to the biogas. incineration. 2. During composting. The amounts of animal manure annually collected in selected countries are shown in Table 4. (2016). animal manure is aerobically treated to stabilize the organic matters and destroy the pathogens.863 19. and there is also a serious concern of fugitive gas emissions (Arancon et al. Due to its inherent properties such as relatively small size. animal manures have been widely used in AD.0 84. al. the need for the costly unit upstream processes such as dewatering and a long retention time (Ro et al. Ro Ro Ro Ro et et et et al.6 0.4–1. and good buffering capacity. (2014) Sajjakulnukit et al. However. The general characteristics of the selected food wastes are summarized in the Table 5.

C. AD technology has several inherent merits such as remediation of highly putrescible organic wastes at a smaller environmental footprint. 2015). 2010).0 92. Technol. The anaerobic biorefinery approach provides significant merits to generate more diverse value-added products from food wastes in addition to biogas. Although AD is currently the best available technology for food waste-tobioenergy production (Khanal. (2004) Tampio et al. biomaterials. The anaerobic biorefinery concept is illustrated in Fig. / Bioresource Technology xxx (2016) xxx–xxx Table 5 The general characteristics of the selected food wastes. Sawatdeenarunat et al.1016/j. challenges.e.e.0 NA NA 17. Please cite this article in press as: Sawatdeenarunat.. 2013). Fig.org/10. Details of derivatives from these platform chemicals and their production pathways are found elsewhere (Choi et al. http://dx. 3. conventional AD generates a single relatively low-value output (biogas). Anaerobic biorefinery: Current status. (2011) COD: chemical oxygen demand.0 94.7 17.8 24.3 29. and xylotol (Bozell and Petersen. digestate. household.03.. capturing GHGs. biofuels.biortech.5 NA 98. Korea UK India 67.074 . levulinic acid.. and liquid effluent) is discussed in following section. furans. animal feed. lactic acid.doi. 2008).1 Shin et al. Large-scale anaerobic biorefinery The anaerobic biorefinery is a promising concept. Diverse organic materials ranging from industrial wastewaters to municipal and farm wastes could be used as feedstocks in an anaerobic biorefinery to produce biogas with concomitant generation of digestate (i. 1. 1.8 15.5 C. hydroxypropionic acid/ aldehyde. and juices centers University canteen S.. and fertilizer. succinic acid. Bioresour. glycerol and derivatives. co-digestion of such food waste with nitrogen-rich substrates such as sewage sludge and animal manure can significantly improve the AD efficiency of food wastes (Zhou et al. and at the same time valorizing organic wastes into high-value products/chemicals and intermediates. Bozell and Petersen presented a revised list of top ten building block chemicals which can be derived from lignocellulosic biomass.4 1. (2016). a Source Country TS (%) VS (% TS) Soluble CODa (g/L) Total carbohydrate (% TS) Total protein (% TS) Total fat (% TS) TKN (gN/L) References Dining hall Biowaste digestion plant Fruit and vegetable markets.9 88. sorbitol.2016. Schematic of large-scale anaerobic biorefinery for producing biofuels and biobased products. biogas. Combinations of biochemical and thermochemical technologies have been adopted for the conversion of biomass to building block chemicals. in which the anaerobic reactor/digester acts as a centerpiece for bioconversion of feedstocks (substrates) into diverse high-value products and intermediates. et al..5 NA 7.6 NA NA NA NA 6. including ethanol.87 NA NA 8.9 NA Qiao et al. The potential resource recovery through AD from three output sources (i.2 NA 37. (2014) Rao and Singh (2004) China 19. The digestate could be further processed to plethora of biobased products and chemicals. hydrocarbons. solid residue and liquid effluent). and opportunities.

Recently. especially CH4 are effectively captured and utilized. 2016). stillage and vinasse are rich in carbon content. Succinic acid. a second-generation energy crop. a chemical with two AOH functional groups) production from lignocellulosic biomass has gained great interest compared to conventional alcohol due to their higher market value. wastes that need to be managed (e.2016.4-butanediol. 2010). respectively (Bozell and Petersen.. Other operational parameters such as pH. Besides alcohol or acid fermentation pathways.4 g/g glucose and 0. could be used as platform chemical to produce high-value products such as 1. co-digestion with nutrient-rich feedstocks like cattle manure to adjust C/N ratio to 20–30:1 have been widely applied (Khanal. the H2S in biogas has to be removed to a value below 250 ppm prior to feeding to the CHP engine. acetic. absorption by scrubbing..S. Sugars could also be converted to shortchain volatile fatty acids (i.biortech. has been reported to yield 149 kg and 115 kg per dry metric ton of biomass. and arabinose are ideal substrates for producing different alcohols. propionic. ammonia.org/10. Individual or combinations of various types of organic wastes could be used as a feedstock for AD. Carbohydrates Feedstock rich in carbohydrates include lignocellulosic biomass such as energy crops. which is a building block of many high-value industrial chemicals including anhydride. lignocellulosic biomass consists of 30–56% cellulose and 10–27% hemicellulose (collectively known as holocellulose). In case of anaerobic digester fed with sulfur-rich substrate. dehydration of sugars to produce furans has been studied as an alternative conversion route. water pressure absorption.g. Sugars released from enzyme hydrolysis in the form of glucose. Propanediols and butanediols are platform chemicals for producing many industrial products including solvents. 2008). adapting biorefinery concepts into the utilization of biogas could open up ideas for research and development in conversion pathways for a variety of higher-value biogas derivatives.. should also be maintained within the recommended range for efficient digestion. Bioresour. and hydrogenation.. Furans are platform chemicals to produce a Please cite this article in press as: Sawatdeenarunat. In the following sections. lactic acid is also considered a building block chemical for poly-lactic acid.. and particulates can be removed to obtain CH4 content greater than 95% in a process called biogas cleaning and upgrading. biological filtration. carbohydrates. with a global market demand of up to 50. tetrahydrofuran. Besides energy crops. have high potential to be used as AD feedstocks. and protein) is discussed.1. The microbial fermentation of diacids (i. maize and grass sillages and agri-residues.25 g butanol/g xylose (Bramono et al. (2015). Recently. known as stillage and vinasse. resource recovery from different components of AD residue (e.. Various methods for H2S removal. Dehydration of C5 and C6 sugars has been applied to produce biomass-derived furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). 2011). Depending on sources.. agricultural and food processing wastes/wastewater. MSW.2. which are listed among the top ten platform chemicals by U. Thus. waste activated sludge. biogas could be converted to methanol. requiring the addition of nutrients to optimize the carbon to nitrogen (C/N) ratio. In practice. adhesives. Details of biomassderived selected platform chemicals with their derivatives and applications are summarized in Table 6. Anaerobic biorefinery: Current status. and detergents (Zeng and Sabra. AD can effectively breakdown hemicellulose due to its amorphous structure. Besides H2S. food waste. organic acids. This solid residue could serve as a substrate for producing a wide variety of high-value biobased products via biorefinery concept. ammonia. On one hand. Bioethanol fermentation by yeast or Zymomonas and biobutanol production by Clostridium spp. biogas impurities such as CO2. 3.)..doi... respectively (Pöschl et al. The most common industrial-scaled application is heat and electricity generation using a combined heat and power (CHP) unit. research efforts have been shifted towards optimization of butanol production due to its higher value as a fuel and chemical. However. 2011). and cryogenic separation have been applied for biogas upgrading process at commercial-scale plants. and valeric acids) through the carboxylic acid pathway by using fermentative microorganisms.3 g/g lignocellulosic biomass (Nanda et al. mannose. and anhydrides.e.. GHGs. Upgraded biomethane could be used as transportation fuel in the form of compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquid natural gas (LNG) or injected into a natural gas grid. has been extensively studied. butyric. residues of bioethanol distillation from sugarcane and corn. respectively (Kuglarz et al. and biopolymers (Jansen and van Gulik. the presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the biogas at a concentration higher than 250 ppm could be detrimental to the CHP unit. allowing more efficient downstream enzymatic saccharification of carbohydrates into sugars. dehydration. Apart from using biogas as a renewable energy resource for heat and electricity generation as discussed above.23 g butanol/g glucose and 0. and malic acids). ferric oxide adsorption. fumaric. 2011). PSA. total volatiles fatty acids to total alkalinity (VFA/ALK) ratio. DOE. Technol. fat.. C. Depending on substrate type and operating condition of the digester. This concept of ‘‘low-volume. and 3–30% lignin (dry wt. acrylic acids. 2014). Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been widely employed for bioethanol production with the ethanol yield of 0. succinic. the com- position of solid residue varies. animal manure etc. Digestate The effluent (digestate) from an anaerobic digester can be separated into liquid and solid streams. For instance. (2016). Other genetically engineered microorganisms.1016/j.. ethylene. 2014).. The co-production of bioethanol and succinic acid from hemp (Cannabis sativa L.g. diol (i. membranes. 2010). such as Escherichia coli have also been reported to effectively produce a variety of alcohols.03. et al. and on the other hand. 2016). Yeast. challenges. xylose. Clostridium species have been reported to produce 0.2. galactose. respectively. high-value” conversion pathway for biogas or syngas (H2 + CO) to liquid fuels and chemicals through chemical and biological conversions has gained significant interest in recent years (Munasinghe and Khanal. However.e. Electrical and thermal conversion efficiencies of CHP unit are around 40% and 50%. Utilization of the produced biogas has been commercialized in a wide range of applications.6 C. Sawatdeenarunat et al. These carboxylic acids are precursors for various valuable derivative chemicals such as diols. The potential methane yields from various organic feedstocks can be found in Table 3 and Sawatdeenarunat et al. Biogas Biogas is the prime product of AD. moisture. and a wide range of biochemicals and biobased products (Surendra et al. 3. 2015).1. Overall. / Bioresource Technology xxx (2016) xxx–xxx 3. such as pressure swing adsorption (PSA).000 metric ton/year. 2011). resins. 2010). and ash (Cheng et al. and micro-aeration have been studied and commercialized. polyols and other aromatic compounds (Räuchle et al. esters. http://dx.074 . The solid stream primarily consists of suspended solids and undigested residues. alkaline absorption. has been studied extensively (Bozell and Petersen.e. residues from biofuel processing industries also have high potential as an AD feedstock. biogas production from organic wastes is an intrinsic merit of AD technology. Such findings have stimulated the idea of using AD as a biological pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass. AD helps reduce the volume of organic wastes with a small environmental footprint and energy consumption. In addition. the biomass also contains small amount of extractives. lignin. and propanediol through polymerization. 2015). The removal of hemicellulose during AD opens-up lignocellulosic matrix structure that enhances the further breakdown of the cellulose component of biomass (Mathews et al. and opportunities. basis). More details on biogas production and utilization can be found in Budzianowski (2016). respectively. etc.)..

gasoline) Chemical industries Biohydrocarbon NA – – Lactic acid 0. Bozell et al. bioplastic.4 Polymerization Polylactic acid Plastic industries Succinic acid 0. / Bioresource Technology xxx (2016) xxx–xxx Table 6 Bio-based platform chemicals and derivatives (adopted from Choi et al. a major component of digested fiber following AD and saccharification processes. Instead of going through enzymatic saccharification.3 Glycerol 2. such as polypropylene–micro crystalline cellulose composite. an alternative pathway for utilizing the cellulose present in digestate fiber is to purify the cellulose by a delignification process. and medical supplies (Klemm et al. (2007) reported a technology for lignin utilization which produces aromatic compounds.2. food production.doi. Liquid effluent Ammonium and phosphates are the major nutrients present in the liquid effluent from AD process. Please cite this article in press as: Sawatdeenarunat. challenges.. such as levulinic acids. gasification. Although the demands for such products are high. C. methanol. and pyrolysis are commonly used for lignin conversion (Bozell et al. butanediol) Butylolactone Plastic industries Coating Chemical and plastic industries Oxidation Polymerization Maleic acid Fumaric acid Polyester polyols Dehydration Acrylic acid Hydroxypropionic acid NA Chemical industries Adhesives Coating Plastic industries Coating Levunic acid NA Hydrogenation y-Valerolactone Fuel additives Sorbitol 1. There is an economic tradeoff between bio-oil and biochar production which depends on the market price for the product and the type of pyrolysis method used (Pandey et al.2. Lignin has potential applications in producing heat and electricity.2. Lignin The lignin content of lignocellulosic biomass varies from 10– 35% of dry weight. 2010). and Fischer–Tropsch fuels). Sawatdeenarunat et al. Anaerobic biorefinery: Current status. fuels (e.7 Oxidation Chemical industries Hydrogenolysis Succinic acid Acetyl acrylic acid Diols (ethylene/propylene glycols) Hydrogenolysis Diols (ethylene/propylene glycols) Chemical industries Xylitol 0. solvents Hydrogenation Biopolymers Fumaric acid Furoic acid Furandicarboxylic acid Furfuryl alcohol Plastic industries Chemical industries Hydrogenolysis Oxidative dehydration Diols (ethylene/propylene glycols) Acrylic acid Chemical industries Plastic industries Coating Fuels (jet fuel. For example. has a high potential for biorefinery applications. which has been found to be effective in carbon sequestration thereby reducing net carbon dioxide emissions. (2016). and opportunities. However. benzene–toluene–xylene (BTX) and lignin monomers through catalysis and selective oxidation processes. Besides the thermochemical pathway. 2007). which have many industrial applications. resins and adhesives) pose a potentially very interesting opportunity for a lignin biorefinery. 2005). et al.1 wide-range of chemicals. Technol. Biochar is mainly used as a soil conditioner. There is a wide range of derivatives from cellulose. Solid residues Besides the lignin utilization via thermo-chemical processes.. the whole solid fibers after the solid–liquid separation of the digestate could be used for the production of bio-oil and biochar via pyrolysis.org/10.biortech. and cellulose ethers. 2015). hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF)) 0. furfural alcohol.7 C. 2015). syngas.074 .. depending on the plant species (Mathews et al. http://dx. and dimethyl sulfoxide. and thus land application of the liquid effluent must be carefully regulated. dimethyl ether.g.3. technological challenges have hindered lignin biorefinery applications due to the intrinsic recalcitrant structure of this phenolic macromolecule.1016/j. the traditional practice of applying the liquid effluents as ferti-irrigation has environmental issues when applied in excess. coolant. and biopolymers (Bozell and Petersen.05 Dehydration Acrylic acid Hydrogenation Diol (propanediol. including phenols.. Technological advancements to purify lignin for carbon fibers and Chemical industries biopolymers (e.3. Platform bio-based chemical Market demand (million metric tons/year) Conversion pathway Derivatives Applications Ethanol 86. Lignin. cellulose esters like cellulose acetate and cellulose nitrate have been widely commercialized in producing membrane filters for water treatment. Bio-oil can also be produced by hydrous pyrolysis in which thermal decomposition takes place in the presence of water known as hydrothermal treatment. which aims to keep the polymerized structure of lignin intact instead of breaking it down to its monomers. Bioresour. (2015)).0 – Polymerization – Polyethylene (PE) Polypropylene (PP) Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) Ethylene glycol Fuels Plastic industries Oxidation Furans (furfural. Thermochemical processes such as combustion. lack of technical experience and high energy costs have hindered the commercialization of ligninbased high-value chemicals production.g. a potential future technology for utilizing waste lignin uses an opposite approach.2016.. As mentioned earlier... 3. diesel.0 Polymerization Oxidation Plastic industries Textile fibers Antifreezes. 3. cellulose esters. vanillin. 3.03.

75 million biogas plants (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.. Furthermore. The residuals after digestion. 2006).. Challenges and prospectives The biorefinery concept has taken its shape in the last decade. The rural areas in such countries largely depend on traditional biomass such as firewood. Some of the future directions for anaerobic biorefineries could be the integration of different biorefinery platforms where the wastes from these platforms are to be used for the producing biogas. generated from the residual bioslurry should be exploited. improved robustness and functionality. The government plans to expand to more than 1. which is finally used to make vermicompost. Several studies reported the use of bioslurry as a fertilizer in upland (Alburquerque et al. operation. Proper awareness and knowledge concerning the operation and maintenance of digesters. Bangladesh. 5. Nguyen and Fricke (2015) showed that the digester effluent from co-digestion of pig manure and spent mushroom substrate in Vietnam was suitable for application as feed for Tilapia in addition to vegetable gardening..org/10. The local community in the developing countries should be made aware of and encouraged to explore different avenues in which the AD effluent can be utilized. the Royal Cambodian Government has implemented a nation-wide initiative to deploy biodigester technology and has built over 23. 2015) and flooded (Nishikawa et al. SNV and the Dutch Government (SNV Netherlands Development Organization Vietnam. if in excess. http://dx.. but also provides algal biomass for diverse applications such as biofuel production (e.. before final treatment of the food processing waste through AD technology (Pandey et al.. Nutrients and potentially valuable chemicals can be recovered from food production and processing industries. 4. 2009). Conclusion This paper describes the anaerobic biorefinery possibilities. 2012). Other targets include insuring that the valuable chemicals. / Bioresource Technology xxx (2016) xxx–xxx Recently.biortech. crop residues. These practices help reduce the agrarian costs of local farmers and mitigate environmental impacts at the same time. Technol. The effluent following algal biomass separation could be recycled back as process water in AD plants or used for irrigation with less risk of ground and surface water contamination. and opportunities. biodiesel. increases in financial subsidies for the installation of biogas plants. India has approximately 4. So far. An algae farm using such a nutrient source not only offers nutrient recovery from the effluent. The authors reported that the precipitated struvite at Mg:N:P molar ratio of 1. Sawatdeenarunat et al. 6. Le Corre et al. 2013). Smith et al.000 household biogas plants distributed nationwide (Surendra et al. Nepal has over 250. serve as a fertilizer for crop production and a fish feed for aquaculture application.5:1:1 met the regulations for heavy metal limits for fertilizers. and Indonesia are gradually extending their biogas programs.. The anaerobic biorefinery concepts in large-scale and small-scale Please cite this article in press as: Sawatdeenarunat. 2015). 2002. Biogas technology has been introduced primarily to provide a clean energy for cooking and lighting to rural households and to curtail deforestation. and is expected to reach 80 million by 2020 (Rajendran et al. etc. Moreover. the usefulness of local bioresources for biogas production. (2016). Suthar (2010) showed that the dried slurry from manure-based biodigester could also be used as vermibeds. China has by far the largest number of household biodigester with over 30 million operational plants as of 2012..2016. other sources of revenue. Uysal et al. The protein-rich solid residue after lipid extraction could be used in animal feed application or as a cosubstrate for AD (Park and Li.. respectively (Spolaore et al. The produced biogas can be used for on-site energy requirements or fed to the grid.. but has many miles to go before an established system can prosper. For example. nutrient-rich effluent from AD process could potentially be used to produce struvite (MgNH4PO4). the use of bioslurry as a organic fertilizer for rice and horticulture crop production is being widely promoted in Cambodia. The fish growth rate in the treatments supplied with 50% digester effluent and 50% commercial feed (CF) was not significantly different from the growth rate of fish provided with 100% CF.. biomethane. 2012). algae farming using such nutrient-rich effluents has gained significant interest as an efficient approach for nutrient recovery (Van Den Hende et al. Bioresour. and Thailand. There is also a need to conduct a comprehensive techno-economic analysis of anaerobic biorefinery by considering the local conditions. challenges. with the current fluctuation in energy prices. Anaerobic biorefinery concepts have been well received by rural households who have biogas digesters.1016/j. and improved designs which deliver lower cost.g. greater focus is required to maintain the more consistent nutrient levels. In Cambodia. the default product of AD is mainly biogas. Other developing countries such as Cambodia. 2012. commonly known as bioslurry. (2010) determined the fertilizer quality of struvite produced using effluent from anaerobic digester treating sewage sludge.. Small-scale anaerobic biorefinery There is a huge potential for smaller household digesters in developing countries to utilize the locally available bioresources such as animal manures and crop-residues for biogas production.000 units between 2003 and 2011 through the combined effort of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Algal biomass usually is rich in lipid and protein contents with values as high as 75% and 60% of TS.074 . Anaerobic biorefinery: Current status. 2014.0 million biodigesters in all 24 provinces.8 C. are recovered in the biorefinery before the feedstock is sent to the AD process. Ali et al.. animal feed. an orthophosphate crystalline material with potential application as a slow release biofertilizer.doi. and high-value phytochemicals among others. Similarly. amino acids. and biohydrogen). 2006. Laos. and animal dung for cooking. Similar research findings have also been reported in China. farmers are using bioslurry for aquaculture applications. 2014) and Vietnam installed more than 115. However. The problem with current AD systems is that they are perceived only as a method of reducing organic waste and producing energy.03. 2015). Effluents from the AD plants treating nutrient-rich waste streams such as swine and poultry manure could be an ideal substrate for recovering nutrients via struvite precipitation. However. Struvite formation takes place when the ratio of Mg:NH4:PO4 is greater than 1:1:1 on a molar basis and pH is high (Jaffer et al. Currently. et al. 2014). C. Jaffer et al. 2012) rice systems. the anaerobic biorefinery approach to produce high-value products could enhance the economic viability of biofuels and biobased products.) are being widely adopted for this process due to their high nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) removal efficiencies (Yan and Zheng. ease of construction. nutraceuticals. (2008) concluded that manure slurry from biodigesters can be safely used as a fish feed and reported an increase in fish production by 20–30%. and maintenance would aid the development of small-scale anaerobic biorefinery in developing countries. Certifications programs for the bioslurry could also encourage the customer to buy the product as a fertilizer. Lipid from algal biomass could be extracted and used for producing biodiesel and glycerol as by-products. Microalgae (Chlorella spp.. 2002) reported the technical and economic feasibility of recovering nutrients via struvite precipitation from wastewater treatment plants. Bio- gas technology produces two valuable products – biogas as source of cooking gas and digestate (or bioslurry) as a source of fish feed and organic fertilizer.304 household/farm-scale digesters as of July 2015 in 15 provinces. Several studies (Shu et al. 2012).

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