Synthesis of a sustainable integrated biorefinery to produce value-added chemicals from palm-based biomass via mathematical optimisation

Tiong Oon Tey, Sharon Chen, Zhi Xiang Cheong, Abigail Shu Xian Choong, Lik Yin Ng, Nishanth G. Chemmangattuvalappil*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The past decade has witnessed an increase in biomass usage for combined heat and power generation. Recent advances have been focused on utilising biomass as a raw material to produce value-added bulk chemicals in integrated biorefineries. There is also a lot of opportunities for producing fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals from intermediates derived from palm-based biomass. This work focus on the incorporation of the three pillars of sustainability while converting biomass into all promising products. A mathematical optimisation model has been developed in this work to identify the optimal products that can be produced from palm-based empty fruit bunches (EFB). These products have been evaluated in terms of economic, environmental and social aspects. A comprehensive superstructure that maps all possible products that can be produced from biomass has been developed in the first stage of synthesis. Chemical reaction pathway map (CRPM) was used to illustrate the potential pathways from raw materials to intermediates and then to the final products. An economic and sustainability model was constructed to determine the most profitable configuration and the trade-offs for implementing other sustainability elements into the integrated biorefinery. Multi-objective fuzzy optimisation approach was used to identify the optimal trade-off between gross profit and sustainability index (SI). It has been observed that the sustainability elements can be maintained with minimal compromise on economic performance while synthesising several value-added products. The robustness of the optimal solution was tested by performing sensitivity analysis on production cost, capital cost, and conversion data on processes involving less mature technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-315
Number of pages28
JournalSustainable Production and Consumption
Early online date13 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Chemical reaction pathway map fuzzy optimisation
  • Fine chemicals
  • Palm-based biomass
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Sustainability pillars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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