ABC's of Bioproducts
Today, petroleum is refined to make chemical feedstocks used in thousands of products. Many of these petroleum-based feedstocks could be replaced with value-added chemicals produced from biomass to then manufacture clothing, plastics, lubricants, and other products. The emerging U.S. biobased products industry combines expertise and technology from the agriculture, forest products, and chemical industries to create plastics, chemicals, and composite materials from renewable resources including agricultural crops and residues, trees and forest residues, grasses, animal wastes, and organic municipal solid wastes. Multi-disciplinary research is key to developing energy-efficient and cost-competitive technologies for converting biomass to value-added products. Together with industry, grower representatives, universities, national labs, and other government agencies, the Biomass Program is guiding the development of a viable biobased products industry. The Department of Energy (DOE) has also published a BioProducts Opportunities report, which may be useful to students who want to learn about the potential of biobased products.
Many biobased products are currently being sold and more being developed. To aid in the adoption of these biobased products into wide-spread consumer usage, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently developing guidelines for a Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program (FB4P) . The DOE is getting head start with adopting a preferred purchasing program for biobased products through implementation of its Buy-Bio initiative.