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Integrated sustainability assessment

 

A key ambition of the BIOCORE project is to demonstrate the sustainability of the concept. Therefore, during the first and second year of the project, partners have laid the foundations for the future multicriteria sustainability assessment. The initial phase of this study has focused on the definition of the boundary settings (e.g. timeframes, scale of biorefinery etc) for the study and the precise description of the different value chains.

Starting with C5 and C6 sugars and lignin, it is theoretically possible to manufacture an extremely wide variety of products, including fuels, chemicals, feed and/or food ingredients and materials. Therefore, to choose among the many value chains identified during the first 12 months of the project, a sub-group of BIOCORE project members, led by INRA, devised a rapid methodology that took into account the key factors that determine economic (raw materials costs, product price, market volume etc) and environmental performance (GHG emissions/carbon footprint). The outcome of this process was the selection of <20 value chains that hold sufficient economic and environmental potential to warrant further study within the framework of BIOCORE. To achieve this result, it was necessary to develop a tools and methods. Among these, a key achievement concerns the development of a methodological approach that possesses the capability to translate experimental accomplishments into input-output blocks of a synthesis model. This method offers the possibility to tackle large and rich sets of paths and products. Other than its holistic nature, the methodology is generic, systematic and readily amenable to extensions.

Regarding the final integrated assessment of the BIOCORE concept, in the previous reporting period it was possible to finalize all of the definitions, settings and system descriptions. These are described in an internal report, which prepared the ground for further methodological development in all of the targeted areas (i.e. economic, environmental and social sustainability assessments, including SWOT analyses). In relation to this activity, BIOCORE partners have participated in a cross-project harmonization activity, which will ensure that identical methods are used to assess the performance of the concepts and processes that are being developed in BIOCORE, SUPRABIO and EUROBIOREF. The methodologies that will be used to perform economic, environmental and social sustainability assessments are now documented in two deliverables (D 7.1 and D 7.2) that have been submitted to the European Commission.