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The bioproduct value pyramid shows how the economic value of bioproducts compare to the amount of biomass input and capital investment required to be profitable. The lowest value products on the pyramid are at the bottom, while the highest value products are at the top. Consequently, the bioproducts requiring the largest amount of biomass and capital investment are at the bottom, while those requiring the least are at the top.
Biomaterials are another emerging category of bioproducts produced from cellulose or lignin. These include products such as cellulose nanocrystals, cellulose filaments and reinforced thermoplastic composites. Biomaterials can be sold for between $2,000 to $20,000 per ODT biomass feedstock and are used in applications such as food, cosmetics, coatings, packaging, electronics, vehicle parts, and other consumer products. Due to their high values, both biochemicals and biomaterials can be economically feasible at small-scale operations for less than $50 million of capital investment. These can be stand-alone production plants or upgrades to existing pulp and paper mills.
Biochemicals are an emerging category of bioproducts produced from cellulosic sugars and lignin such as vanillin, xylitol, phenols, or benzene. These chemicals are valued between $1,000 to $8,000 per ODT biomass feedstock and can be used in applications such as food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and adhesives.
Engineered wood products include mass timber, composite wood and other construction materials that are manufactured by binding the strands, particles, fibres, veneers or boards of wood together to improve structural integrity. These products generally sell for between $500 to $900 per ODT of biomass feedstock, more than conventional bioproducts as they are designed to meet specific performance requirements.
Conventional bioproducts include typical products in the forest sector, such as pulp, paper, or dimensional lumber. These products generally sell for between $300 to $800 per ODT biomass feedstock and require relatively large capital investments to be economically feasible.
Bioenergy includes products such as renewable natural gas, wood pellets for biomass power generation, and biochar. These products generally sell for less than $100 per oven dried tonnes (ODT) of biomass feedstock, putting them at the bottom of this value chain. Biofuels include ethanol and biodiesel, which are not generally produced from wood. These products generally sell for $100 to $200 per ODT of biomass feedstock. Both bioenergy and biofuels require large amounts of feedstock and a large capital investment, between $300 million and $1 billion to be economically feasible.