Sustainability index accounting food and carbon benefits on circular 2,3-butanediol biorefinery with oil palm empty fruit bunches

Shazia Rehman, Md Khairul Islam, Noman Khalid Khanzada, Huichuan Zhuang, Huaimin Wang, Sumate Chaiprapat, Shao Yuan Leu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Progressive replacement of petroleum chemicals with biomass derived products is an essential research goal toward sustainability. However, the progress of the development of new generation biorefinery has been affected by many factors, i.e., prices of crude oil, food, and carbon. To quantify the environmental and social impacts of the technologies, this study constructed a sustainability index for calculating two new bio-butanediol production processes with oil palm empty fruit bunches as example feedstock. The performance of organosolv pretreatment using butanediol was compared with the whole slurry conversion process using sulfite pretreated biomass, over the petroleum refinery and first generation biorefinery with food crop feedstock. The organosolv biorefinery process successfully converted the biomass into 77.3 ± 1.63 g/L of bio-butanediol (0.45 g/g yield), which is slightly higher (5.5%) than that of the sulfite-based process. The integration of biorefinery techniques, with oil palm farming shall result in 6.8 kg-CO2 and 0.5 kg-food benefits per kg butanediol produced, yielding a sustainability index of 7.30. The food index for first generation biorefinery is −1.04 kg food per kg butanediol produced. Using empty fruit bunches for butanediol production could save 1.54 kg food crop consumption, which turns the “food vs. fuel competition” into a “food plus fuel nexus”.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117667
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Butanediol
  • Energy and carbon footprint
  • Oil palm empty fruit bunches
  • Staged-organosolv-pretreatment
  • Sustainability index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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