Open access peer-reviewed chapter

# Agro-Industrial Waste Revalorization: The Growing Biorefinery

By Flora Beltrán-Ramírez, Domancar Orona-Tamayo, Ivette Cornejo-Corona, José Luz Nicacio González-Cervantes, José de Jesús Esparza-Claudio and Elizabeth Quintana-Rodríguez

Submitted: September 28th 2018Reviewed: December 15th 2018Published: March 11th 2019

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.83569

## Abstract

Agro-industrial residues have been the spotlight of different researches worldwide, due to some of their constituents being raw material to generate a diversified variety of industrial products. Nowadays, this situation keeps prevailing and will increase continuously in the future. In the agroindustry, diverse biomasses are subjected to distinct unit processes for providing value to different waste materials from agriculture, food processing, and alcoholic industries. In this chapter, we reported an updated survey of different renewable organic materials that including agricultural wastes can be converted to bioenergy. Similarly, these wastes encrypt different bioactive compounds with an excellent nutraceutical functions and with high adding value. In addition, biocomposites can be elaborated using fibers from wastes with a wide variety of applications in the automotive and packaging industry. Vinasses derived from tequila industry in Mexico represent a lot of potential to extract biocompounds, and we propose a process to obtain them. A perspective of market trend is mentioned in this chapter for compounds derived from agro-industrial wastes. Adding value to those agro-industrial wastes can provide the reduction of negative impact emission, discharge, or disposal, solves an environmental problem, and generates additional income.

### Keywords

• bioenergy
• biocomposites
• bioactive peptides
• biocompounds
• vinasses

## 1. Introduction

Agro-industrial residues provide an enormous potential to generate sustainable products and bioenergy. An integrated biorefinery is turning into a promising solution with multiple outputs (biofuels, bioactive biocompounds, and biomaterials). Most of the residues generated are intended for landfill or are disposed in an uncontrolled way, causing environmental damage and economic loss. For that reason, it is necessary to develop a sustainable management of them. An integral waste management is proposed in the concept of circular economy to exploit renewable resources. Circular economy is based on the concept of biorefinery and the approach to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste with the objective to recover materials derived from waste considering them as renewable resources [1].

A wide range of metabolites, materials, and energy can be obtained through the exploitation of agricultural residues. Being the commercial-scale technologies is the bottleneck to produce marketable bioproducts. In this review, we put aboard the multiple outputs that can have the agro-industrial residues from bioenergy until a wide array of metabolites can be extracted. In addition, we investigate the potential market for some products derived from residues, searching the revalorization of them.

## 2. Production of bioenergy

Nowadays, due to the increase in population, it is necessary to find a sustainable solution for the enhanced demand of energy in the world. The fossil fuels are limited and nonrenewable resources; the use of biomass for energy production seems to be a solution to provide energy and reduce the dioxide carbon emissions. The term biomass includes energy crops, residues, and other biological materials that can be used to produce renewable energy [2]. The first-generation biofuels are produced from agricultural crops such as corn, sugarcane, soybean oil, and sunflower [3]. However, there is a conflict due to these biomasses being used for food and generating the name “food versus fuel” [4]. Additionally, emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) are believed to be lesser for second-generation biofuels than the first-generation fuels [3]. For these reasons, agro-industrial residues have gained attention due to their disponibility, and they include residues from crop, food, and oil industries.

### 2.1 Solid fuels

Pellets are the most common solid biofuels used; they are cylindrical structures made by compression derived commonly from agricultural residues, forest products, and wood industries [5]. Pellets are used mainly for house heating and in industrial sector. Even though the agro-industrial residues have less energy content than fossil fuels, their use presents great advantages such as the reduction of logistic costs, easy storage, and provision of a great opportunity for the revalorization of these unused residues [5]. For the pellet elaboration, the biomass is treated to be compacted and densified; this includes the drying, and after, the biomass is milled to obtain particles with similar size [6]. Afterward, the material is pressed in a pelletizer and pellets are packaged and stored. Some common methods to improve energy density are torrefaction, steam explosion, hydrothermal carbonization, and biological treatment. In torrefaction, reactions of dehydration and decarboxylation occur lowering proportions in O/C and C/H and increasing heating value [7]. Steam explosion is a treatment with hot steam under pressure and followed by decompression which disintegrates the lignocellulosic structure [8]. Steam explosion treatment increased the heating value in pellets from a different biomass [9]. The international market of pellets derived from wood has been increased, the USA, Canada, and Russia being the largest exporters to Europe, which is the main consumer in the world [10]. Several applications and uses have the pellets from residential to large-scale power plants. The growing demand of sustainable and renewable fuels places the agro-industrial residue pellets with a great potential to supply renewable energy.

### 2.2 Liquid fuels

Liquid fuels as diesel and petrol are being replaced by liquid biofuels as biodiesel, bio-oil, bioethanol, and butanol. Biodiesel is obtained from feedstock oil as waste cooking and frying oil, animal fats, and fish and microalgae oil, leather, winery, and agro-industrial wastes, directly or indirectly. Oleaginous microorganisms are used in the indirect way for biodiesel production; lipids produced are extracted to be transformed to biofuel. For biodiesel production, three main steps are included: pretreatment, transesterification, and separation. Pretreatment allows agro-industrial residues to be assimilable for the microorganisms and is categorized into acidic, basic, thermal, enzymatic, or combination treatments [11]. Other important aspect to consider is that during pretreatments inhibitors for microbial growth as furfural, acetate, and others can be formed and are necessary to find tolerant strains or medium detoxification [12].

Bio-oils are obtained from biomass through two main processes: pyrolysis and liquefaction [13]. Pyrolysis has taken more attention; fast pyrolysis of lignocellulose biomass for bio-oil production is low cost compared to liquefaction that produces low yield at high cost [14]. Due to their physicochemical characteristics, bio-oils cannot be used for fuel applications without previous treatment [13]. Treatments are based in partial or total elimination of oxygen, and two catalytic routes have been proposed: cracking and hydrotreating. Pyrolysis of agro-industrial residues has been reported for sesame, mustard, Jatropha, palm kernel, cottonseed, and neem oil cakes showing an additional value for these residues and reducing wastes [15].

Bioethanol is the most common biofuel, and their production involves steps as pretreatment, saccharification, fermentation, and distillation [16]. Pretreatment allows cellulose to unwind from hemicellulose and lignin to be more available for enzymatic hydrolysis, and commonly physical, chemical, and biological treatments are used to achieve this purpose [17]. The enzymatic hydrolysis allows converting cellulose to glucose or galactose monomers and presents a low toxicity as well as low utility cost and corrosion compared to chemical hydrolysis [18]. Biological treatment is an alternative to liberate cellulose with the use of microorganisms mainly as brown-rot, white-rot, or soft-rot fungi [19]. Once the saccharification is obtained, fermentation is carried on with microorganisms able to produce ethanol. For the microorganism selection, some parameters are necessary to have a broad-substrate utilization that is derived in a high ethanol yield and productivity, to be tolerant to high ethanol concentrations, temperature, and inhibitors presented in hydrolysate for which genetically modified or engineered microorganisms are a good option to achieve a complete utilization of sugars and better production [17]. The simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) and the separate hydrolysis and fermentation (SHF) are the most common processes usually used to ethanol production [16]. SSF using olive pulp from oil extraction and the yeast Kluyveromyces marxianus showed ethanol yields of 76% [20].

Due to its higher heat of combustion and less volatility and it being mixed with gasolines in higher percentage without any modifications in the car engines, butanol is considered a promising renewable biofuel [21]. Butanol is produced through anaerobic biological fermentation process using the Clostridia genus [22]. Agricultural residues can be used for economical production of butanol. Simultaneous hydrolysis of wheat straw to sugars and fermentation to butanol resulted in an attractive option for ABE fermentation [23]. Rice bran has resulted to be an effective substrate to butanol production using C. saccharoperbutylacetonicum [24]. Agricultural residues can be a promissory source to be efficiently utilized as substrate for butanol production.

### 2.3 Gas fuels

Biobutanol is a product from anaerobic biological process called ABE fermentation, which converts sugar by using genus Clostridia into butanol, acetone, and ethanol in a ratio of 6:3:1, respectively. In this process, genus Clostridia such as Clostridium acetobutylicum, Clostridium beijerinckii, Clostridium saccaroperbutylacetonicum, and Clostridium saccharoacetobutylicum showed significant activity for synthesis of butanol with higher yield. Biobutanol is a product from anaerobic biological process called ABE fermentation, which converts sugar by using genus Clostridia into butanol, acetone, and ethanol in a ratio of 6:3:1, respectively. In this process, genus Clostridia such as Clostridium acetobutylicum, Clostridium beijerinckii, Clostridium saccaroperbutylacetonicum, and Clostridium saccharoacetobutylicum showed significant activity for synthesis of butanol with higher yield.

Biobutanol is a product from anaerobic biological process called ABE fermentation, which converts sugar by using genus Clostridia into butanol, acetone, and ethanol in a ratio of 6:3:1, respectively. In this process, genus Clostridia such as Clostridium acetobutylicum, Clostridium beijerinckii, Clostridium saccaroperbutylacetonicum and Clostridium saccharoacetobutylicum showed significant activity for synthesis of butanol with higher yield. Biobutanol is a product from anaerobic biological process called ABE fermentation, which converts sugar by using genus Clostridia into butanol, acetone, and ethanol in a ratio of 6:3:1, respectively. In this process, genus Clostridia such as Clostridium acetobutylicum, Clostridium beijerinckii, Clostridium saccaroperbutylacetonicum, and Clostridium saccharoacetobutylicum showed significant activity for synthesis of butanol with higher yield.

Lignocellulosic biomass is a potential source of glucose, xylose, mannose, and arabinose and other organic compounds that can be anaerobically degraded to produce biogas [25]. Biogas is produced through an anaerobic digestion with four steps identified as hydrolysis, acidification, and production of acetate and finally methane using a microorganism consortium [26]. The final product is a gas mixture composed mainly of methane and carbon dioxide and traces of hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide [27]. For the enhancement of biogas production, it is necessary to apply pretreatments, and the most commonly used are dilute acid hydrolysis, steam explosion, alkaline hydrolysis, and liquid hot water [28], while Song et al. tested nine pretreatments showing that H2O2 and Ca(OH)2 enhance methane yields [29].

## 3. Biocompounds from agro-industrial wastes

### 3.1 Polyphenols

Phenolic compounds are a group of chemical compounds that are widely distributed in nature, and their basic structure varies from a simple molecule to a complex skeleton and hydroxyl substituents. These compounds are being the most desirable phytochemicals due to their antioxidant activities that can be useful for the control of different human diseases or disorders [30]. Due to their reactivity, these compounds efficiently interact with important biomolecules such as DNA, lipids, proteins, and other cellular molecules to produce desired results, which then are used for designing natural therapeutic agents. Flavonoids, tannins, anthocyanins, and alkaloids are polyphenols with industrial significance and are present in fruits and plants. In addition, most of the phenolic complexes are found in barks, shells, husk, leaves, and roots [30]. Recently, agro-industrial wastes from fruits, vegetables, and crops have been subjected to different metabolite methods of extraction as a potential source of industrial bioactive compound production. For example, tomato processing industry approximately generates 8.5 million of tons of wastes globally [31], wastes such as seeds, pruning, and peels which contain a high concentration of bioactive phytochemicals. In that sense, peels and seeds of tomatoes are a richer source of bioactive compounds such as carotenes, terpenes, sterols, tocopherols, and polyphenols [32], which exhibited excellent antimicrobial and antioxidant activities and high support of dietary fiber. Other important crop that generates a high amount of waste is the coffee production. Due to the heterogeneous nature of coffee waste, most of the authors are investigating its possible revalorization to determine the content of chemical compounds such as tannins and phenolic compounds. Exhausted and spent coffee ground wastes derived from industries, restaurants, and domestics are a valuable source of phenolic compounds. For example, in coffee waste derived from coffee industries, different ranges of concentrations of polyphenols and tannins around of 6 and 4%, respectively, were found [33]. J. curcas and Ricinus communis are the most important energetic plants for the biofuel industries; these plants generated high amounts of residues such as seed cake, pruning material, and seed shells with high concentrations of bioactive compounds. In fact, shells of this plants contained high contents of phenolic compounds and exhibited strong antioxidant activities [34]. Extracts of residual wastes of seeds, leaves, fruits, stems, and roots derived from R. communis exert different nutraceutical effects such as antioxidant, antimutagenic, as well as DNA protection against photooxidative stress [35].

### 3.2 Pigments

Agro-industrial wastes can be used as a feedstock extraction and for different fermentation processes as a main source of microbial nutrients to produce biopigments useful in food and cosmetic industries. Chemically synthesized food colorants used as the additives in foods cause the risk of toxicity and hazardous effects to the consumers, than the natural pigments, that are quite safer, nontoxic, and nonhazardous for the environment [36]. The production of natural pigments can be derived from direct plant extraction (e.g., anthocyanins, chlorophylls, carotenoids, and melanin) or by fermentative production through the cultivation of bacteria, yeast, fungi, and algae (e.g., phycocyanins, xanthophylls, and melanin) [37]. Cyanobacteria and microalgae produce high amounts of beta-carotene and astaxanthin, which are used in the industries and have a great commercial value in pharmaceutical and food industries [38]. Different microorganisms such as Streptomyces, Serratia, Cordyceps, Monascus, and Paecilomyces, Penicillium atrovenetum, Penicillium herquei, Rhodotorula, Sarcina, Cryptococcus, Phaffia rhodozyma, Pseudomonas, Bacillus sp., Vibrio, Monascus purpureus, Achromobacter, Yarrowia, and Phaffia have shown their potential in pigment production as a major source of blue and yellow-red pigments [39]. Other important pigment is the melanin, which is present in animals, plants, and microorganisms to provide stress protection against UV radiation, oxidation, and defense [40]. This pigment is used for the cosmetic and pharmaceutic industries with a photoprotective and antioxidant importance in different products. The use of agro-industrial wastes such as fruits is a potential source for the melanin biosynthesis by microorganisms and is an attractive choice for commercial-scale production. For example, fruit, wheat bran extracts, and cabbage wastes were used as inoculum in Bacillus safensis [41], fungus Auricularia auricula [42], and Pseudomonas sp. [43] for the melanin production. Melanin is specially found in the seed coat of different plants; however, it is also found in other plant structures such as black spots of leaves, flowers, and seeds [44]. There are a few reports related to the melanin extraction from agro-industrial wastes. In that sense, sunflower husk derived from the oil production was subjected to the melanin extraction, and a technological scheme of melanin production from this waste was developed with a potential application as prophylactic mean and medicinal agent for the treatment of human diseases [45]. Similarly, residues as shells and epicarp from walnut contain high amounts of melanin with a high antioxidant capacity [46].

## 7. Conclusions

Utilization of agro-industrial residual wastes can help to reduce them and avoid the environmental contamination, health diseases by the overcrowding, ecological damage, and other pollution-associated problems. Nowadays, there is a growing interest by researchers and industrials by the different substances and properties that exhibit the different agro-industrial residues to obtain a value-added product. Residual wastes have an enormous potential to be revalorized producing solid, liquid, and gas energies, obtaining different bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, peptides, and melanin. In addition, fibers from residues can be used to elaborate biocomposite for automotive industries mainly. New methods are proposed to obtain a value-added product from vinasses in demand not only for the pharmaceutical industries. All of these compounds and mixtures are profitable for a commercial market that grows with a high potential and application for new sectors. In that sense, the future is here.

## Acknowledgments

We want thank Alejandro Carreon for kind suggestions in the early version of this manuscript.

## Conflicts of interest

The authors indicate no potential conflicts of interest.

## Funding

This research was supported by the project Bioturbosin Cluster (208090) of Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT) and Secretaria de Energia (SENER) from Mexico.

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Flora Beltrán-Ramírez, Domancar Orona-Tamayo, Ivette Cornejo-Corona, José Luz Nicacio González-Cervantes, José de Jesús Esparza-Claudio and Elizabeth Quintana-Rodríguez (March 11th 2019). Agro-Industrial Waste Revalorization: The Growing Biorefinery, Biomass for Bioenergy - Recent Trends and Future Challenges, Abd El-Fatah Abomohra, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.83569. Available from:

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