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Biorefineries are the core of the bioeconomy. They represent the hope of the rural zones, a promise of a sustainable, competitive and knowledge-intensive rural economy. In this sense, there is much talk about the large biorefinery units and their potential to promote a significant economic growth and create millions of jobs in rural areas. However, small-scale biorefineries have not been given very much attention to date despite the fact that they have the potential to provide economic return at the farm level and to boost local and regional use of the biomass. A smart and integrated process design can beat the advantages of economy of scale applied in large-scale processes and the local re-use of materials allows to minimize costs for recycling and transport.

This section is a platform to promote small-sized biorefinery concepts and highlight their importance for the bioeconomy. It is intended to be an open repository and you can collaborate to build it. If you have some interesting contribution, do not hesitate to contact me via

List of references

LinkedIn GroupSmall-Scale Biorefineries,

- Project: ERA-NET LAC SMIBIO (11/2015 - 10/2018, ELAC2014/BEE-0249)
The objective of the SMIBIO project is to develop small-scale integrated biorefinery units capable of processing different kinds of biomass produced in rural and small urban areas, both in Europe and in CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States).

- Small-scale green biorefinery: GRASSA!.
Mobile, small-scale modular process facility (The Netherlands). High-value protein and fibre-based products from grasses and protein-rich agro-residues.

Small-scale cassava starch refinery: DADTCO.
The AMPU (Autonomous Mobile Processing Unit) processes fresh cassava roots (< 24 hours after harvesting) into cassava cake that in its turn is refined in a MRU (Mobile Refinery Unit) to produce cassava starch cake.
Profile: DADTCO – Small-scale processing for the cassava revolution in Africa.

Small-scale fast anaerobic digestion: Micro H2AD.
A novel micro-scale technology for the rapid and safe disposal of organic effluent based on a fast anaerobic digestion (AD) developed by Lindhurst Innovation Engineering.
Profile: Micro H2AD– Small-scale fast anaerobic digestion.

Small-scale corn ethanol plants: MiniDest.
The MiniDest are small, modular, automatic and remotely operated plants, developed by Porta. These mini distilleries are installed in farms aimed to produce corn ethanol and feed, generating added value. They allow to integrate the agriculture and livestock farming with a sustainable industrial process, promoting a business model based on the circular economy.

- Modular AgriBioEnergetic Districts: Hephaestus.
Hephaestus is a concept to produce energy and biofuel from non-food crops. It is the first modular AgriBioEnergetic (ABE) District. It is not just a production plant, it is a local integrated project “from seed to barrel”.
Profile: Hephaestus – Modular AgriBioEnergetic Districts.

- Mobile pyrolysis plant: Nettenergy.
The concept introduced by Nettenergy is the autarkic mobile pyrolysis plant. This mobile plant can locally convert biomass into several products (biochar, wood vinegar, bio-oil, woodgas) through the PyroFlash technology.
Profile: Nettenergy - The autarkic mobile pyrolysis plant.

- Project Biorefinery Glas.
The project Biorefinery Glas will demonstrate a small-scale mobile biorefinery on multiple farms in the South West of Ireland.
Profile: Biorefinery Glas - Small-scale farmer-led green biorefineries.

- Project FLEXIBI.
Decision support for small-scale flexi-feed biorefineries.
Profile: FLEXIBI – Decision support for small-scale flexi-feed biorefineries.

Calls for projects


Joint call for transnational research projects focused on the small-scale biorefinery concepts.


- M.E. Bruins, J.P.M. Sanders: "Small-scale processing of biomass for biorefinery". Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining, Volume 6, Issue 2, March/April 2012, pages 135–145.
- N.M. Clauser, S. Gutiérrez, M.C. Area, F.E. Felissia, M.E. Vallejos: "Small-sized biorefineries as strategy to add value to sugarcane bagasse". Chemical Engineering Research and Design, Volume 107, March 2016, pages 137–146.
- C. de Visser, R. van Ree: "Small-scale biorefining". WUR.

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