Almost all products currently made from fossil fuels can also be produced from biomass. These bio-products are not produced solely from renewable sources, but they often require less energy to be produced than the ones based on oil.
The researchers found that the process of making biofuels can be used to make antifreeze, plastics, glues, artificial sweeteners and toothpaste gel.
Other contributors to building biotech products are carbon monoxide and hydrogen. When biomass is heated with a small amount of oxygen, the two gases are produced in abundance. Scientists call this mixture – biosynthesis gas. These gases can be used to produce plastics and acids, which can then be used to produce photographic films, textiles and other synthetic fabrics.
When biomass is heated in the absence of oxygen, it produces pyrolysis oil. A chemical called phenol can be extracted from the pyrolysis oil, and is used to make wood adhesives, molded plastic and insulation foam.
In the future, it is possible to see biorefineries – similar to refineries producing oil – producing not only biofuels but also a variety of bioproducts.
These refineries could also generate electricity for their own use and for sale and also the heat produced by its own processes.