BioProducts (Natural products and Industrial Chemicals)

Bioproducts are industrial chemicals made from biomass sources.  Although strictly speaking, energy also is a product of biomass, the convention is that the term bioproducts refers to biomass-based products other than energy-market biobased-products (i.e., electricity, heat and liquid transportation fuels).  Many of the chemicals, plastics and polymers we use today can be made from plant-based resources.  Bioproducts allow the opportunity to replace fossil-fuel based plastics, polymers and chemicals with biomass-based sources.  Bioproducts are often by-products of biofuel and biopower production pathways.  Bioproducts are usually higher-value chemicals than bioenergy and the bio-based 'by-products' of bioenergy production systems often depend upon the bio-based by-products to make the system financially sustainable.  Plant molecules can be used as building blocks for many industrial chemical products such as adhesives, construction materials, composites, gums, inks, lubricants, oils, paints, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plastics, polymers, resins, solvents, tar derivatives and textile fibers.  Petroleum molecules have been more commonly used as building blocks for these industrial chemicals.  However, instead of beginning with fossil petroleum, plant molecules can be converted to high-value industrial chemical products through separation technologies, or a number of chemical conversion pathways.  Some plants are being genetically engineered to produce higher quantities of useful compounds or new secondary metabolites that can be harvested for bioproducts manufacturing.

The BBEP workshops provide participants with a suite of engaging bioproducts activities for your classroom, from using corn-based shrink-wrap labels, making bioplastics and testing biobased cleaning products.