Biorefineries are envisioned as complex, integrated plants capable of using biomass feedstocks to produce a broad spectrum of chemical and fuel products. Their development is favored due to ample availability of biomass resources, and policy and economic incentives. Their design and deployment requires choices on scale, location, product portfolio and technologies to be used. Biomass processing also requires new chemical transformations and process designs, and is subject to unique logistical challenges. These factors open up exciting research vistas for process systems engineering research, ranging from enterprise-level analysis to process modeling and design. This paper highlights recent progress and future research opportunities in this emerging field.
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Financial support from the National Science Foundation (grant CBET-0855863 ), the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (Award No. DESC00001004 ), an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US DOE , the Initiative for Renewable Energy (Large Grant: RL-0004-09 ) and Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships from the University of Minnesota are gratefully acknowledged.