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Bioenergy > Technologies > By-products/Co-products of biofuels production

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The production of bioenergy can produce large quantities of organic and chemical co-products and by-products that can be of economic use. The development of succesful markets for by-products may be a key determinant of the success for many bio-based industries.


Ethanol production

Corn ethanol

By-products of corn ethanol production include:

  • Dried distillers grains (DDG): These can be used as animal feed, primarily for cattle, since chickens, pigs and other livestock have trouble digesting DDGs (citation needed).
  • Wet distillers grains: Normally, distillers grains are dried so they can be preserved and transported. However, the wet distillers grains can also be used as livestock feed if the livestock are closer to the plant. Because drying distiller's grains requires a substantial amount of energy, using wet distiller's grains improves the net-energy and green-house gas emissions of the ethanol plant.
  • Condensed Distillers solubles This is also used as an animal feed by itself, or added on to DDG to become DDGS
  • Inedible Corn Oil Corn oil is taken out of the process and is used for biodiesel production and as a source for fat/energy for animal.
  • CO2 CO2 is captured from the fermentation process. It is very pure (99.9%) it is then compressed into a liquid and used for quick freezing meats, for green pH adjusting at waste water treatment facilities, and for carbonation in beverages such as Coke.
  • Corn Stover is the leaves and stocks currently unused, but is also considered to be a future feedstock for cellolosic ethanol


Sugarcane ethanol

By-products of sugarcane ethanol production include:

Biodiesel production

By-products of biodiesel production include:

  • Glycerol: Glycerol (propane 1,2,3 triol, C3H5(OH)3) also known as glycerin, is a liquid produced from the transesterification of fats and oils into biodiesel. Glycerol is currently used in a range of products including pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. However, as every ton of biodiesel produces 100kg of glycerol, there is currently more then the market can handle and the excess is incinerated.[2] Developing new industrial uses for glycerin will greatly increase the net-energy and sustainability of biodiesel.


  • The Glycerol Challenge - The Glycerol Challenge is a consortium of industry and Cardiff University funded by the UK Department of Trade and Industry to develop alternative uses for glycerol.

Glycerin News

Biomass-to-Liquids (BTL)

By-products of gasification and fast pyrolysis include:

Other by-products


  • Life-cycle assessment of biofuels, convergence and divergence. by Ester van der Voet, Reid Lifset and Lin Luo; Biofuels 1(3): 435-449.
    • From the abstract: "In this review we explore some of the more complicated sources of differences in findings related to LCA methodology by reviewing 67 LCA studies published between 2005 and 2010. A very important and particularly difficult problem to solve is coproduct allocation."[1]


  1. Creating Markets for Green Biofuels: Measuring and improving environmental performance (pdf) by Brian T. Turner, Richard J. Plevin, Michael O’Hare and Alexander E. Farrell; research report, UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies, April 2007, p.38

By-products of bioenergy production edit

Ethanol production: Dried Distillers Grains (DDG) | Wet Distillers Grains | Bagasse
Biodiesel production : Glycerin
Pyrolysis: Char

Bioenergy conversion technologies edit
Technologies categorized by bioenergy processes:

Biochemical: Aerobic, Anaerobic, Landfill gas collection (LFG), Biodiesel production, Ethanol production
Thermochemical: Combustion, Gasification, Pyrolysis, Depolymerization

Technologies categorized by feedstock:
Algae | Cellulosic technology

Technologies by commercialization status:

Analysis of technologies: Life-cycle analysis


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