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Open Agriculture: Topical Issue on Beyond biofuel: bio-based products at the gateway of the European bioeconomy

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Prof. Piergiuseppe Morone, Unitelma-Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy


Biofuels production has long attracted attention of researchers, analysts and policy makers, dominating the debate on the needed transition from a fossil-fuel economy to a bioeconomy. The production of bioenergy on an industrial scale marked the beginning of the substitution of fossil resources (Karp and Richter, 2011), however, the mere production of bioenergy does not exploit biomass components efficiently. Indeed, research showed that the added value for the use of the biomass for the production of materials is five to ten times higher than it is for energy production (Carus et al., 2014). 

Broadly speaking, bio-based products are likely to be the most valuable option both in economic and environmental terms. For instance bio-based products can be grown and processed close to their point of use, thus reducing significantly transportation costs (and associated pollution) typically linked to fossil resources which must be extracted and shipped throughout the world (Ohio EPA, 2007). In economic terms, the use of biomass in the chemical industry generates about 8 times more employment than the use of biomass for biofuels (Nova-Institute, 2015) – meaning that the development of the bio-based products sector will provide a significant boost to labour force demand (and mainly highly skilled workforce). 

For all these reasons, the EU has identified the bio-based products sector as a priority area with high potential for future growth, offering a viable answer to current societal challenges (European Commission, 2015). Nonetheless, the current framework of action of the European bioeconomy has severe drawbacks when the balance between the material and the energy use of biomass is compared, clearly disfavouring the material applications and preventing European bioeconomy from tapping into its full potential (Carus et al., 2015).

We invited the contributions from scholars who work in the issues of bio-based products, focusing on the economic, environmental, technological, political or regulatory aspects associated with this new and promising sector.



Sustainable biomass supply and demand: a scenario analysis
Piotrowski, Stephan / Carus, Michael / Essel, Roland

Assessing extension and outreach education levels for biofuel feedstock production in the Western United States
Andrango, Graciela C. / Bergtold, Jason S. / Archer, David / Flora, Cornelia 

Impact of different factors on the yield and properties of fractions enriched in dietary fiber isolated from peach (Prunus persica L.) residues
Sette, Paula / Calvache, Jhon Edinson Nieto / Soria, Marcelo / Pla, Marina de Escalada / Gerschenson, Lía N. 

UE Biobased Policy: A Critical Economic-Geographical Point of View
Ciervo, Margherita