Sunday, April 29, 2007

Complex, connected biorefinery, bioenergy and bioremediation systems for the effective utilization of crops in southern hungary

Nóra Szijártó1, Norbert Somogyi2, István Kiss3, Gábor Nagy4, Csaba Vágvölgyi5, Erzsébet Mihalik6, and Kati Réczey1. (1) Department of Agricultural Chemical Technology, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Szent Gellért tér 4, Budapest, 1111, Hungary, (2) Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Kossuth Lajos tér 11, Budapest, 1055, Hungary, (3) Department of Applied Microbiology, Institute for Biotechnology, Bay Zoltán Foundation for Applied Research, Derkovits fasor 2, Szeged, 6726, Hungary, (4) Goodwill Pharma Ltd, Juhász Gyula u. 18/B, Szeged, 6721, Hungary, (5) Department of Microbiology, University of Szeged, Közép fasor 52, Szeged, 6726, Hungary, (6) Department of Botany and Botanic Garden, University of Szeged, Egyetem u. 2, Szeged, 6722, Hungary

Due to its perfect location, rich loamy loess soils and moderate climate, the Great Plain (a discrete flat geographical unit of over 100.000 km2 in the Carpatian Basin that - in part - occupies Southern and Eastern Hungary) is often ranked as capable to feed the whole of Europe. Indeed, this unique landscape has a good reputation for its excellent performance in crop production and animal breeding, traditionally continued at high standards and superb yields. Nevertheless, due to the strict limitations on agricultural production in the European Union, the region faces a serious dilemma. Overproduction of cereals and other major crops (e.g. sugar beet, grape) together with a dramatic decrease in animal breeding acts as a driving force to seek for viable alternatives of land utilization.

Growing novel crops with special characteristics and utilization of traditional crops for novel purposes are two basic trends to follow, which should rationally be harmonized and executed side by side for best results. In this view, we worked out a scheme to examine and evaluate cultured and non-cultured (alternative) plants for their industrial exploitation in an integrated biorefinery process. By means of co-producing high-value primary products (e.g. therapeutics, fine chemicals, polymers), high-volume secondary products (e.g. energy carriers, bulk chemicals) and tertiary products (e.g. fertilizers, composting agents) the overall production costs can be minimized, making the products of lower economic value market competitive too. For best result, the target biorefinery is to be partially integrated to existing agricultural and industrial production profiles and processing systems.