Chemical transformation processes
A transformation involving chemicals (acids, bases, catalysts) is necessary to obtain certain products from biomass. It is often closely linked to a biorefinery process. This is the case for obtaining biofuels, biosurfactants (including soaps) and bioplastics.
Oil refining, a key step in the manufacturing process of biodiesel and biolubricants
Vegetable oils, when they come directly from the press (olive oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, etc.) contain a series of undesirable compounds which must be removed with the aid of reagents. This is the purpose of refining, which aims to maintain or improve the properties of fatty substances which will be the main constituent of biodiesel and biolubricants.
Saponification to obtain soaps
Saponification is a chemical reaction between a fat and a base to form a soap (biosurfactant), which has detergent properties: the head is amphiphilic (attracted to water) and the lipophilic tail (attracted to oil). For example, the famous Marseilles soap is traditionally produced by the reaction between olive oil and soda.
Polymerisation to make bioplastics
Polymerisation is the reaction by which small molecules (monomers) react together to form long chain molecules (polymers). This is the main reaction in the bioplastics industry, since polymers are the main component.