The BBChina Project is focused on the development of a Master Program on Bio-Based Circular Economy devoted to the biomass chain from the field to bioenergy, biofuel, and biochemicals.

The decision to implement a specific curriculum on bioenergy, biofuel, and bioproducts designed for China has been undertaken following a request from Chinese head professors working in the related fields, so to help Chinese Universities train next generation of scientists and technicians to tackle this important environmental challenge.

China is a country rich in biomass resources, has great potential for energy utilization and, as of 2015, utilized biomass is already about 35 million tons of standard coal equivalent. Biomass power generation and liquid fuel industry are present and bio natural gas industry has started, showing a good development trend. The market for solid biomass (i.e. wood briquette) is also active.

Despite massive resources and increasing utilization, bioenergy and biochemicals are still in the early stage of development in China, and the following problems remain:

  • a society not fully aware of biomass energy;
  • the specialization degree of marketization is low, the technical level needs to be improved, and the standard system must be improved;
  • related policies must be improved and there’s a lack of mechanisms to give utilization priority to the use of energy from biomass.

There are also several main limiting factors for biobased economy development in China:

  • the market for organic fertilizer from bio-waste is still low;
  • lack of standards and regulation regarding the quality of bio-based products and the pollution control of technologies;
  • existing technologies/processes are not optimized or run stable;
  • the benefits of Bioenergy, Biofuels and Biochemicals are underestimated and not comprehensively accounted from a life-cycle point of view (i.e. GHG and pollutants reduction, replacement of fossil energy/fertilizer etc.), but are only evaluated on the immediate economic gains.

In order to support the development of a biobased economy, the Chinese government, in March 2016, has then issued a series of “13th Five-Year Plan” [1] and strategic documents encouraging the development of biogas, biofuel, bioenergy, organic fertilizer from bio-waste (food waste, manure, straw, etc) and biomass. These are the 13th Five-Year Plan on the:

  • construction of Treatment Facilities for Urban Domestic Refuse in China,
  • development of Biomass Energy (e.g. including the following 2020 targets: commercialization and large-scale use of bioenergy; bioenergy per year 8 Mt coal eq.; installed gross biomass power generation 15GW, 90GWh/y energy output; 8 Gm3 biogas, 6 Mt biofuel, 30 Mt briquette per year),
  • development of Renewable Energy,
  • formulation of National Environmental Protection Standards,

as well as the “Implementation Plan of Straw Comprehensive Utilization” and the “Plan to Promote the Resource Utilization of Agricultural Wastes.

There is indeed an increasing request of trained personnel in the field by the Industries asking for local expertise, presently scarcely available because Universities are not always able to fulfill the request; even if courses in the field are sometimes present in the involved Universities, there’s a strong lack of coordination and homogeneity.