Jorge Hilbert: Biorefineries in Argentina – status quo and future perspectives
Jorge Hilbert (INTA, Argentina), 4th SMIBIO Workshop, 6 July 2018 in Straubing
In the next presentation, Jorge Hilbert, who works as international consultant of INTA in innovation activities, revealed information about the evolution of agriculture and its impact on biomass production in Argentina. He pointed out the distinctive characteristics of the Argentinian agriculture sector, which are no till, low energy use, decrease in agrochemicals danger and precision farming. Mr. Hilbert spoke then about the importance of small-scale advantages for biomass transformation. In Argentina those are a significate energy consumption reduction by product unit, lower residue volume & treatment costs, lower values of raw materials, lower investment per unit of product generated, diversified markets and products, lower GHG emissions and lower logistics and transport requirements. To the variables to be considered for biomass as a biorefinery feedstock belong in his opinion a relative low price of final products, working force and technology availability, foreign currency balance of the country, profit of the combination of products, added employment and added-value at local level, risk of local and foreign policy changes, changes in final product public perception, the competitive use of feedstocks in present and future markets and furthermore transport & logistics. He emphasized the steps to be included in a biomass study and the way the complex biomass system works at a global and local level as well as the importance of generation of different kinds of products considering the available volume, size of the market and final price. Mr. Hilbert then presented a case study of Argentinian carthamus plants where the co- production of the enzyme chymosin can be a way to increase value. He continued with considerations on environmental studies over biorefineries and the used feedstocks, especially time and area included in the studies as well as new products developed and their impact on the overall performance of the total combination of outputs from the biorefinery.
Mr. Hilbert gave then a special attention to public perception, how it works and the challenges one is confronted with in this area. (media, regulatory measures, technology and scientific support). In his opinion, in Argentina for biofuel biorefineries the existing challenges are food security and the false perceptions and the life cycle assessment biorefinery studies which have not yet been defined (i.e. functional unit, boundaries and allocation criteria).
After showing examples of the biorefinery concept in biogas plants and a case study of biomass environmental research for two types of biomass in Argentina, Mr. Hilbert concluded his presentation with the recommendations of the pan-American network on biofuels and bioenergy adapted for the bio refinery concept.