IEA Bioenergy Task 42 Biorefining: Sustainable processing of biomass into Biobased Products and Bioenergy

IEA Bioenergy is an international collaboration set-up in 1978 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to improve international co-operation and information exchange between national bioenergy R&D programmes. IEA Bioenergy covers all aspects of the bioenergy chain, from resources to the supply of energy services, including biorefining aspects. Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research coordinates this specific Task42 Biorefining within IEA Bioenergy.

IEA Bioenergy Task 42’s goal is to contribute to the development and implementation of sustainable biorefineries – as part of highly efficient, zero waste value chains – synergistically producing bio-based food and non-food products, including biofuels and bioenergy, as base for a global Biobased Economy.


Important challenges to be tackled in this project period (2013-2015)  are:

  • The development of industry legitimacy and a level-playing field for sustainable biomass use
  • Multi-sectoral stakeholder involvement in the development and implementation of sustainable value chains
  • Technology development and biorefinery scale-up using best practices
  • Unlock available expertise in energy/fuel, agri-food, material and chemical manufacturing sectors
  • To develop the necessary human capital by training students and other stakeholders to become the biorefinery experts of today and tomorrow

Activities 2013 - 2015

During this project, the following activities will take place:

  1. Assessment of the market deployment potential of integrated biorefineries
  2. Support of industrial/SME stakeholders finding their position in a future BioEconomy
  3. Analysis of optimal sustainable biomass valorisation using the market-pull perspective approach
  4. Preparation of advice for policy makers on current status, future potential and priority needs
  5. Biorefinery knowledge dissemination
  6. Delivery of biorefinery training activities


A selection of outputs from this initiative in former periods (2007-2009, 2010-2012) are:
  • An internationally accepted definition on biorefining, i.e. the sustainable processing of biomass into a spectrum of marketable bio-based products and bioenergy
  • A clear and easy to understand system to classify different types of biorefineries
  • Country reports giving the biorefinery status in the participating countries
  • Different reports (biobased chemicals – value added products from borefineries, biofuel-driven biorefineries, green building blocks for biobased plastics)
  • Several European training schools on biorefining (Amsterdam, Paris, Wageningen).