POTENTIAL FOR UTILIZING PALM OIL RESIDUES IN BIOREFINERY

The demand for materials from renewable resources capable of replacing chemicals and petroleum-based fuels is growing rapidly due to the progressive depletion of natural resources and the environmental impact caused by pollution. In this scenario, several developed and developing countries are mobilizing large investments to make lignocellulosic biomass with a degree of relevance in the world energy matrix (Silva, 2015).

Biomass can be obtained from non-woody, woody plants, organic waste and also from biofluids. An important concept in the efficiency of a bioconversion process of lignocellulosic biomass into products with high added value is the integrated biorefinery, in which the main objective is to make economically viable the use of all biomass fractions for the production of biofuels, bioenergy, biomaterials and biochemicals through biochemical, chemical and thermochemical processes (Silva, 2015).

Among the different sources of biomass, oil palm (Elaeis guineensias) known as palm, has been investigated in biorefinery processes, due to the large amount of waste generated and the enormous potential to supply the demand for vegetable oil by 2050, as the oil from palm is the most produced oil in the world. From the cultivation of palm oil to the industrial process, various amounts of waste are generated, of which the stalk and bunch of the palm stand out for being low-cost and biodegradable agricultural waste. One of the characteristics of the palm is its high productivity per hectare and a low maintenance cost. Production in the last harvests of 2016/2017 reached a significant 64.5 million tons of palm oil and 7.6 million tons of palm kernel oil, representing approximately 40% of all vegetable oil production globally, with Brazil being the 12th largest palm oil producer in the world. The oil palm culture has the advantage of having its cultivation inserted in areas with damaged soils, with little availability of nutrients and low availability of water resources (Feroldi et al., 2014).

One of the best ways to use agricultural waste in a more efficient and sustainable way is to use technologies that employ chemical, thermochemical and biochemical processes (Santos, 2013). The advantages of biorefineries are numerous, as they produce different products, they can exploit the maximum potential of biomass and add the greatest possible value, thus increasing profitability, reducing energy demand and reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (Silva et al., 2000). The broad spectrum of products also reduces the dependence on the production of only a single product, thus increasing the sustainability of rational use, reducing the existing competition between the use of biomass for food or for fuels. In this context, the main objective of this article is to evaluate the chemical potential of palm oil residues within the concept of biorefinery.

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