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  1. Jean-Paul Lange 21 september 2013 at 15:03 | | Reply

    Dear diederik,

    Your are giving here an interesting, though peculiar twist to one of the message of my Cattech paper of 2001.
    I wrote indeed that learge heat effects result in large investment and, thereby, large incentive to build big to benefit from the economy of scale.
    However, stating that the bioeconomy implies small heat effect and, therefore, small plants is quite a shortcut.
    Yes, fermentation has small heat effect. But one need more than fermentation. One need to prepare the feedtstock (e.g. lignocellulose) and recover the product from diluted aqueouis stream (e.g. lactic or succinic acids). These process segments are complex and involve large heat effects. If the temperature changes are smaller than for chemicla plants, the volumes are large because of high dilution.
    In fact, we have seen the corn mills and sugar cane plants growing over time, as large as they can, even beyond 1 Mt/a feed intake. IN fact, they are now as large as world scale chemical plants. And as soon as they find ways to secure even more feedstock, they’ll surely grow even bigger.
    These plants also try to valorise all their by-products, e.g. DDGS, oil, proteins, and therefore also grow in complexity. Much as did the chemical complexes in the past.
    So I’m afraid it is just romantism to see the bioeconomy based on many small and delocalised plants. To be sustainable the bioeconomy will have to fullfil the triple Ps, i.e. planet, people … but also profit. And this last one has pushed them to grow large and will keep doing so.

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