The Industries & Agro-Ressources (IAR) biorefining Cluster is at the heart of plant chemistry and industrial biotechnology. All the projects supported by IAR Cluster are based on the biorefining model, also known as plant refining.
Biorefining or plant refining uses every part of a plant, meaning that the whole plant is of value.
Biorefining is part of an approach where non-food and food uses for agro-resources exist side by side and complement each other.
Biorefining offers user markets molecules similar in properties and applications to those created by petroleum chemistry, as well as molecules with new uses.
Given dwindling fossil fuel resources, this is a real alternative offering several advantages:
- using renewable raw materials
- breaking free from a dependence on fossil fuels
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- putting agricultural waste to good use
- supporting economic development in areas affected by industry relocation.
To be economically viable and part of a vision for sustainable development, biorefining needs to satisfy two requirements:
- production costs (comprising raw materials, processes and positive/negative externalities) must be competitive
- products and processes must respect the environment, on both a local and global level without creating extra waste.
Today, experts are leaning towards third generation biorefineries, where the challenge is to transform and use the entire plant while underpinning the rationale of industrial ecology.