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 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 municipal solid wastes.
Multi-disciplinary research is the 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 Bioenergy Technologies Office is helping to guide the development of a viable biobased products industry. The Department of Energy has also published a Bioproducts Opportunities report, which provides information about the potential of biobased products, as well as the top value-added chemicals from biomass reports:
- Volume I: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/pdfs/35523.pdf
- Volume II: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/biomass/pdfs/pnnl-16983.pdf
Many biobased products are currently being sold and more are being developed. To aid in the adoption of these biobased products into wide-spread consumer usage, the United States Department of Agriculture is currently developing guidelines for a Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program.