Against the backdrop of pressing global climate change issues MultiBioPro brought together leading experts from science and economy with complementary multidisciplinary expertise to further explore and optimize the potential of new, sustainable energy plants as future bioresources. The project thus had clear social and environmental benefits, addressing real-life issues associated with climate sustainability.

Biorefineries are increasingly gaining importance as sustainable alternatives to traditional oil refineries, and may even come to replace them completely in the future as fossil fuels run short. Currently existing biofuels, however, are exclusively produced from the edible parts of plants and need to be substituted with other socially and ecologically compatible bioresources. Instead of typical energy plants such as corn crops and sugar cane, residues of plants and plant products that would have otherwise gone to waste should be used. Also new plants that are not typical crop plants, but grow in quite different environments, otherwise unsuitable for normal agriculture, could become suitable energy crops. Ideally these plants could be used for multiple purposes and not only for biofuels, for example providing biomass that can be processed into plastics, chemicals, detergents, and other materials.

In MultiBioPro, activities centered around the poplar and the tobacco tree. Whereas the first is likely to serve as a multipurpose crop that can be turned into biofuel as well as other products derived from fermentable sugars, and maybe even provide certain compounds with medicinal purposes; the latter is especially interesting since it can be grown in extremely arid climates such as deserts. Moreover, it can either be used directly as fuel or as an additive to make cleaner fuels with less particulates and carbon monoxide.

The project was based on an ambitious scientific programme that goes beyond the existing state of the art. The academic/industry based alliance thereby covered all steps involved in the biorefinery platform: experts on employment of feed stocks, biobased products, chemical manufacturers, technological partners, and market consultants came together in a concerted action to ensure a cost-effective and proficient end product.

The benefits of MultiBioPro at a glance: