The society in which we live has developed an insatiable demand for energy and material goods. Historically these needs have primarily been met by utilizing fossil fuels and other nonrenewable raw materials. As environmental concerns grow, however, renewable resources are gaining increased attention. This paper examines industrial biorefineries, which are at the leading edge of the development of emerging biobased industries. Biorefineries, similar in concept to traditional petroleum refineries, utilize various conversion technologies to produce multiple products, including fuels, chemicals, industrial products, and electrical power from renewable biomass sources, such as corn stover, residue straw, perennial grasses, legumes, and other materials. Industrial biorefineries are rapidly increasing both in number as well as in capacity throughout this country, and are thus poised to add significantly to the nation’s industrial goods and energy supplies in coming years. Therefore it is vital for engineering graduates to understand this developing industry and its fundamental concepts, especially those involved in the Agricultural, Biological, Chemical, Environmental, Food, and Process Engineering disciplines. To adequately prepare engineering students for the opportunities presented by biorefining, it is imperative for engineering programs to address this burgeoning industrial segment. Toward this end, this paper will discuss major biorefinery concepts, specific applications, and curriculum modification and incorporation techniques that can be used to achieve these efforts. The trends discussed here and their implications are critical for educators, because in coming years biorefining will be used to simultaneously meet the needs of our society as well as that of environmental stewardship.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kurt_rosentrater/202/