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Sustainability in Bioeconomy and Bioenergy

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 July 2024 | Viewed by 12559

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research—UFZ, Department of Bioenergy, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany
Interests: resource management under life cycle concepts; social life cycle assessment in regional contexts; regionalized assessment of sustainability issues related to the bioeconomy field; evaluation of emerging bio-based technologies under a system analysis perspective
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Guest Editor
DBFZ—Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum gGmbH, 04347 Leipzig, Germany
Interests: scenarios and utilisation strategies for bioenergy and bioeconomy; assessment methods of biomass integration; flexible demand-oriented bioenergy; stakeholders of the bioeconomy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nowadays, a series of transformation processes is influencing the societal and political agenda—among others the transition of energy provision and use, and the transition in the circular management of the available fossil and renewable resources. Within the former, the bioenergy field has historically played the role of introducing technical solutions for climate-friendly energy generation but is currently searching for a more specialized role, for example the introduction of more flexible concepts (in terms of inputs and/or outputs), niche applications for biofuels, as well as coping with the increasing use of biomass for the achievement of new bio-based solutions in the bioeconomy field. The bioeconomy, in turn, is part of the second transitional process that deals with the use of available biomass resources to achieve a range of applications with a maximum of sustainable value-added.

These transitional processes must be analyzed from a systems’ perspective, as they are no longer considered “technically driven” processes: they are influenced by further societal and industrial trends (e.g., urbanization, industrialization, population growth, use of resources) and drivers (e.g., technologies, behavior), an influence that is reflected in the systems’ material and energy flows. This makes the definition of their system and their potentially achievable results and impacts a matter of current discussion, especially when considering scaling components such as the regional impacts of these activities, local emissions, or their contribution to regional value-added generation.

Moreover, bioenergy and the bioeconomy should also be integrated in a system-oriented way to achieve the best system outcomes, especially when considering their relevance to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), or by fulfilling specific systemic roles, such as flexible energy generation for sectors where other renewable sources are less effective or have technical limits (e.g., industrial process heat) or in terms of their contribution to a climate-negative system (e.g., introduction of BECCS technologies).

This Special Issue, entitled Sustainability in Bioeconomy and Bioenergy, intends to provide a discussion and exchange platform for the up-to-date research in the areas of systems analysis and material flow management of these sectors. A particular case we want to explore and discuss is the systems integration of the bioeconomy and bioenergy fields.

We therefore welcome articles that present case studies, reviews, and new developments in bioeconomy and/or bioenergy systems related, but not limited, to the following subjects:

  • Scenario analysis of the envisaged systems or of their different comprising sectors;
  • Drivers, trends, and indicators for the assessment of the envisaged systems;
  • Definition and implementation of monitoring systems;
  • Life cycle-based tools for sustainability assessment;
  • Life cycle-based assessments of the potential environmental, social, and/or economic impacts of bio-based technologies and/or value chains;
  • Techno-economic, socio-economic, and/or environmental assessments of prospective bio-based technological concepts;
  • Integrative and spatial life cycle assessments of bio-based value chains.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Alberto Bezama
Dr. Nora Szarka
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • system integration
  • bioeconomy
  • bioenergy
  • scenario development and assessment
  • monitoring
  • life cycle assessment
  • indicators
  • technology assessment
  • life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA)

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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28 pages, 6358 KiB  
Article
Reflecting Regional Conditions in Circular Bioeconomy Scenarios: A Multi-Criteria Approach for Matching Technologies and Regions
by Almut Güldemund and Vanessa Zeller
Sustainability 2024, 16(7), 2935; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16072935 - 1 Apr 2024
Viewed by 589
Abstract
The Circular Bioeconomy (CBE) combines the concepts of bioeconomy and a circular economy. As an alternative concept to the current fossil-based, linear economy, it describes an economy based on the efficient valorization of biomass. It is regional in nature and aims to improve [...] Read more.
The Circular Bioeconomy (CBE) combines the concepts of bioeconomy and a circular economy. As an alternative concept to the current fossil-based, linear economy, it describes an economy based on the efficient valorization of biomass. It is regional in nature and aims to improve sustainability. An analysis of the transition process, by identifying its success criteria and assessing its impacts through the modeling of technology-specific scenarios, is necessary to ensure that CBE concepts are sustainable. However, a comprehensive consideration of regional influences on both is lacking. Based on extensive literature research and an expert survey, we develop a multi-criteria approach where we (i) present a comprehensive catalog of CBE success criteria and discuss their region-specific characters and (ii) develop a methodology based on evaluation matrices that enable CBE technologies to be matched with regions. The matrices support the evaluation of technological and regional characteristics influencing successful CBE implementation. The results show that the success criteria “biomass resources”, “technological”, and “social” are perceived as highly important, and that most of the success criteria are both region- and technology-specific, highlighting the relevance of developing matrices to match them. We describe such matrices indicatively for the two broadest and most important success criteria clusters “social acceptance” and “biomass supply chain”. With this, we substantiate the regional nature of CBE and raise the awareness on the importance of considering regional conditions in CBE transition processes. Furthermore, we provide practical guidance on how regional conditions can be reflected in the selection of technologies, e.g., in regional CBE technology scenarios. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Bioeconomy and Bioenergy)
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35 pages, 2824 KiB  
Article
Assessment of EU Bio-Based Economy Sectors Based on Environmental, Socioeconomic, and Technical Indicators
by Víctor Fernández Ocamica, Monique Bernardes Figueirêdo, Sebastián Zapata and Carmen Bartolomé
Sustainability 2024, 16(5), 1971; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16051971 - 27 Feb 2024
Viewed by 980
Abstract
The development of a resilient and circular bio-based economy is of paramount importance, notably in the EU, where current climate policies and evolving regulations strongly demand more sustainable practices, impacting monitoring and reporting, as well as the deployment of novel valorization routes for [...] Read more.
The development of a resilient and circular bio-based economy is of paramount importance, notably in the EU, where current climate policies and evolving regulations strongly demand more sustainable practices, impacting monitoring and reporting, as well as the deployment of novel valorization routes for byproducts and waste streams. In this context, with the aim of assessing the current state of the European bio-based economy, a comprehensive analysis based on socio-environmental, socioeconomic, and technical indicators was carried out on major sectors, namely textiles, woodworking, pulp and paper, bio-based chemicals and materials, liquid biofuels, and bio-based electricity. Each sector was evaluated with respect to its main biological raw materials, and a methodology is proposed to link their geographical origin (inside or outside the EU), import shares, and internal production with socio-environmental impacts, based on official databases and indexes. Socioeconomic data (turnover and employment) and technical data (average bio-based content within the main products of the sector) were also considered for the analyses, allowing a multi-angle comparison between sectors and the identification of barriers and opportunities for future developments. Finally, a quantitative and qualitative overview of non-hazardous biogenic waste streams generated in the EU is presented, and opportunities for their valorization and reintegration into the EU bio-based economy are discussed. As a result of this analysis, beyond enabling the assessment of each sector within the bio-based economy, along with the assignment of values for comparison, the implementation of this evaluation facilitated the identification of improvement pathways, which were consolidated into a set of proposals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Bioeconomy and Bioenergy)
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15 pages, 2929 KiB  
Article
Life Cycle Analysis of Succinic Acid Production in the Brazilian Biorefinery Context
by Gabriel Baioni e Silva, Andreza A. Longati, Cíntia R. Sargo, Felipe F. Furlan, Rafael S. Capaz, Electo E. S. Lora and Thais S. Milessi
Sustainability 2024, 16(3), 1234; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16031234 - 1 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1028
Abstract
Succinic acid is an essential component of the chemical industry. Traditionally produced from fossil resources, its sustainable production using renewable resources faces challenges due to the complexities of cultivation and purification. This study assessed the environmental impacts of succinic acid production from sugarcane [...] Read more.
Succinic acid is an essential component of the chemical industry. Traditionally produced from fossil resources, its sustainable production using renewable resources faces challenges due to the complexities of cultivation and purification. This study assessed the environmental impacts of succinic acid production from sugarcane through a life cycle analysis and compared it with three other scenarios: using sorghum, apple pomace, and the traditional chemical route. Employing the ReCiPe midpoint methodology with a cradle-to-gate approach, the analysis highlighted significant environmental impacts linked to the agricultural stage in the sugarcane process. The use of pesticides, fertilizers, and energy demand resulted in elevated impacts compared to other stages of the process. The other scenarios also presented strong contributions in the purification stages. The production from sugarcane proved advantageous compared to other scenarios, minimizing impacts in 6 out of 10 categories. It is evident that the selection of the correct biomass is crucial for process sustainability, and the use of second-generation inputs can help reduce impacts in the agricultural stage. However, advancements in the fermentation stage are necessary, along with a reduction in the complexity of the purification steps. This study emphasizes the potential of renewable succinic acid production from sugarcane juice in the Brazilian scenario. Utilizing this process could reduce succinic acid’s environmental impacts by 70% to 99% compared to the petrochemical route. The process should be considered as a sustainable alternative to be included in the portfolio of biorefineries, enhancing factory profitability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Bioeconomy and Bioenergy)
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22 pages, 1594 KiB  
Article
Circular Bioeconomy in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona: Policy Recommendations to Optimize Biowaste Management
by Karin Meisterl, Sergio Sastre, Ignasi Puig-Ventosa, Rosaria Chifari, Laura Martínez Sánchez, Laurène Chochois, Gabriella Fiorentino and Amalia Zucaro
Sustainability 2024, 16(3), 1208; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16031208 - 31 Jan 2024
Viewed by 765
Abstract
Municipal biowaste management is at the core of the transition towards a circular bioeconomy in the EU. However, most urban systems are still far from being aligned with these principles. This paper addresses the case of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. The current [...] Read more.
Municipal biowaste management is at the core of the transition towards a circular bioeconomy in the EU. However, most urban systems are still far from being aligned with these principles. This paper addresses the case of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. The current system of biowaste management is compared with a more sustainable alternative scenario. Regulatory and non-regulatory drivers and barriers for the transition from the current state to the alternative scenario are identified and later transformed into policy recommendations using a multi-stakeholder approach. This paper focuses on the separate collection of biowaste and the production of biomethane. Increasing the quantity and quality of separate biowaste collection is a prerequisite for the market-relevant production of biogas from anaerobic digestion that can be converted into biomethane. The results show that more efficient collection systems such as door-to-door or smart bins together with tax incentives such as the pay-as-you-throw principle are key to increasing the amount of collected biowaste, while targeted communication combined with controls and penalties are key to minimizing impurities. In addition to financial incentives for the construction of new anaerobic digestion plants, financial incentive systems are also required for the biomethane sector to ensure competitiveness with fossil fuels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Bioeconomy and Bioenergy)
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32 pages, 1724 KiB  
Article
What Drives a Future German Bioeconomy? A Narrative and STEEPLE Analysis for Explorative Characterisation of Scenario Drivers
by Sören Richter, Nora Szarka, Alberto Bezama and Daniela Thrän
Sustainability 2022, 14(5), 3045; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14053045 - 4 Mar 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 4455
Abstract
A future bioeconomy pursues the transformation of the resource base from fossil to renewable materials in an effort to develop a holistic, sustainable production and provision system. While the significance of this change in the German context is not yet entirely explored, scenarios [...] Read more.
A future bioeconomy pursues the transformation of the resource base from fossil to renewable materials in an effort to develop a holistic, sustainable production and provision system. While the significance of this change in the German context is not yet entirely explored, scenarios analysing possible pathways could support the understanding of these changes and their systemic implications. Bioeconomy in detail depends on respective framework conditions, such as the availability of biomass or technological research priorities. Thus, for scenario creation, transferable methods for flexible input settings are needed. Addressing this issue, the study identifies relevant bioeconomy scenario drivers. With the theoretical approach of narrative analysis, 92 statements of the German National Bioeconomy Strategy 2020 have been evaluated and 21 international studies in a STEEPLE framework were assessed. For a future German bioeconomy 19 important drivers could be determined and specific aspects of the resource base, production processes and products as well as overarching issues were exploratively characterised on a quantitative and qualitative basis. The developed method demonstrate an approach for a transparent scenario driver identification that is applicable to other strategy papers. The results illustrate a possible future German bioeconomy that is resource- and technology-driven by following a value-based objective, and which is supplied by biogenic residue and side product feedstocks. As such, the bioeconomy scenario drivers can be used as a starting point for future research like scenario development or modelling of a future German bioeconomy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Bioeconomy and Bioenergy)
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Review

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19 pages, 1278 KiB  
Review
Life Cycle Based GHG Emissions from Algae Based Bioenergy with a Special Emphasis on Climate Change Indicators and Their Uses in Dynamic LCA: A Review
by Raja Chowdhury, Nidia Caetano, Matthew J. Franchetti and Kotnoor Hariprasad
Sustainability 2023, 15(3), 1767; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15031767 - 17 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3032
Abstract
Life cycle-based analysis is a key to understand these biofuels’ climate benefits. This manuscript provides a state-of-the-art review of current biofuel production, primarily through algae-based routes. Standalone biofuel production has an unfavorable environmental and energy footprint. Therefore, industrial symbiosis is required to reduce [...] Read more.
Life cycle-based analysis is a key to understand these biofuels’ climate benefits. This manuscript provides a state-of-the-art review of current biofuel production, primarily through algae-based routes. Standalone biofuel production has an unfavorable environmental and energy footprint. Therefore, industrial symbiosis is required to reduce the environmental impacts of biofuel. The availability of waste heat, CO2, renewable energy, and colocation of other industries, especially renewable energy and dairy firms, have been demonstrated beneficial for producing biofuel through the algal route. Dynamic life cycle assessment (DLCA) issues were discussed in detail. DLCA is one of the highlighted areas of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) paradigm that can improve the applicability of climate change indicators used in the LCA. Various climate change indicators, global warming potential (GWP), global temperature change (GTP), and climate tipping point (CTP) were discussed in detail. Special emphasis was given to waste-based bioenergy production and its LCA as this route provided the lowest GHG emissions compared to the other bioenergy production pathways (e.g., from energy crops, using lignocellulosic biomass, etc.). The use of LCA results and modification of life cycle inventory (e.g., modification in the form of the regional energy mix, dynamic Life Cycle Inventory (LCI), etc.) was another highlight of this study. Such modifications need to be incorporated if one wants to improve the applicability of LCA results for net zero target analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in Bioeconomy and Bioenergy)
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