- Written by UN FAO
Scientists in Sweden and Bolivia have teamed up to investigate whether residues from the Latin American country’s production of quinoa—the health food that helped a good number of poor Andean farmers to a higher standard of living in the early-to-mid 2000s, but with overproduction and falling prices in its wake—can be turned into biorefinery products such as renewable ethanol, bio-based polymers or so-called biopesticides.
In essence, the Swedish and Bolivian researchers will pool their expertise in biochemical conversion of recalcitrant lignocellulosic materials, on the one hand, and in microbial biodiversity and agricultural conditions of the high Altiplano of the Andes, the high planes of the mountain range that straddles Bolivia and Peru, on the other. The scientists will start where food production stops, that is once the edible quinoa seeds have been separated from the rest of the quinoa plant and what is left are the stalk and seed coats.
Is the efficient and sustainable biorefinery of the future challenged by the low price of oil and gas and the lack of a political framework that encourages bio-based production in the long term? Yes. Have actors in the sector shut up shop while waiting for conditions to be right for launching the bioeconomy? Not at all.
Judging from developments in Sweden, a precursor country in terms of biorefinery development based on woody materials and organic waste, great strides are being made in industry and academia to pave the way for a transition from an economy heavily reliant fossil fuels and materials based on petrochemicals, towards a bioeconomy. A few such developments were highlighted yesterday at a seminar at Umeå, in northern Sweden, on Feedstock for Sustainable Biofuel Production, by the Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels (f3 Centre), the research environment Bio4Energy and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
Feedstock for Sustainable Biofuel Production
— Feedstock Potentials, Climate Change Impact of Forestry and the Realisation of Forest Biorefinery
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