Advanced Biofuels from Thermochemical Processing of Sustainable Biomass in Europe

Aimaro Sanna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
295 Downloads (Pure)


Biofuels can play an important role in decreasing the use of fossil fuels, in particular in the transport sector, which absorbs about 30 % of the EU energy requirements. This review illustrates the motivations behind biofuel development, the government incentives and regulations and the current approaches on sustainable biomass conversion in Europe, and provides an overview on the major steps involved in thermochemical processes and on the issues challenging their deployment at large scale, with particular emphasis on the pyrolysis of biomass and bio-oil upgrading using conventional oil refinery settings. Distribution of sustainable biofuels in Europe and future prospects towards achieving success of transport biofuels were also addressed. The literature suggests that importing biofuels and increasing the cost of CO2 to at least €60/t CO2 will be necessary to meet the renewable obligation targets in the EU. Algae represent the future feedstock for biofuels but currently are limited by their high production costs and high N content. Pyrolysis is cost competitive compared to other technologies such as fermentation and gasification, but the quality of bio-oils requires upgrading mainly to lower their oxygen content and enhance their thermal stability. The recent advances in bio-oil upgrading using catalytic cracking and hydro-treating are very promising for the future deployment of advanced biofuels in the coming decades. However, significant investments in applied research and demonstration are still required to meet the 2020/2030 biofuel targets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-47
Number of pages12
JournalBioenergy Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Bio-oil
  • Biofuels
  • Biomass
  • Pyrolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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