10 Dec 2021

What’s Bio-based Products?

8 December, 2021

In the context of increasing oil scarcity and intensifying global warming, bio-based products, which are wholly or partly processed from biomass, provide an alternative to petroleum derived products due to their eco-friendly, green and low-carbon characteristics.


From Biomass to Bio-based Products

Before answering the question of “what’s bio-based products? We can see below diagram to understand the basic processing from biomass to bio-based products.


Source:Wageningen university & research


It can be seen from the above diagram that bio-based products are derived from biomass. Biomass refers to various organisms produced through photosynthesis using the atmosphere, water, and land. The broad sense of biomass includes all plants, microorganisms, and animals that feed on plants and microorganisms and their production wastes. Representative biomass includes crops, crop waste, wood, wood waste, and animal manure. In a narrow sense, biomass mainly refers to the non-food sourced lignocellulose (referred to as lignin) such as straws and trees in the agricultural and forestry production process, agricultural product processing industry leftovers, agricultural and forestry wastes, and livestock manure and waste in the livestock production process.


After isolation, extraction and pre-treatment of biomass in nature, we can obtain biomass feedstocks, including carbohydrates, proteins, lignin, natural fibres, oils and fats. By using biotechnology and chemical conversion technology, biomass raw materials can be further transformed into bio-based intermediates through synthesis and polymer processing, and downstream companies can make use of these bio-based intermediates to produce bio-based products.


Standards for Determination of Bio-based Products

In order to promote the standardization of the bio-based industry, testing standards such as ASTM D6866, ISO 16620-2 or EN 16640 have been introduced to determining the bio-based content of bio-based products. Currently, the determination of the bio-based carbon content by three mainstream standards is using the radiocarbon method. Biomass contains a well-characterized amount of Carbon-14 that is easily differentiated from other materials such as fossil fuels that do not contain any Carbon-14. Since the amount of Carbon-14 in biomass is known, a percentage of carbon from renewable sources can be calculated easily from the total organic carbon in the sample.


Common Bio-based Product Label

In order to help consumers identifying truly high-quality bio-based products, the most common bio-based product labels on the market include USDA Bio-Preferred Label, OK Biobased, DIN CERTCO, etc., which follow the above three international testing standard.