Currently, the continuous depletion of non-renewable resources of fuels and chemicals has promoted the research and development of different alternatives for the replacement of fossil resources as the feedstock of fuels and chemicals. At present, one of the most important biofuels in the current economy, is bioethanol, contributing to 65% of the total biofuels production. The production of bioethanol is an attractive alternative because it would be produced using indigenous and native raw material, therefore, the socioeconomic impact mainly in developing countries would be measured by the economic incomes and increase the quality of life of small and middle farmers. The first-generation ethanol production from sugarcane, corn, or beet sugar is broadly implemented at an industrial scale. However, the second-generation ethanol (2GE) is currently still in development stages, looking for different alternatives according to each region under study. The 2GE is also subject of diverse opinions about its economic viability and its real impact on the environment, especially due to the CO2 footprint. Consequently, this chapter has presented an overview of 2GE production, the possibilities of co-production of molecules of high value-added, and their economic and environmental assessment, including CO2 release, water consumption, solid residues disposal, and economic analysis to determine the best bioethanol based biorefinery configuration.
Part of the book: Bioethanol Technologies