Bioresources are nonfossil biogenic resources which can be used by humans for
multiple purposes: to produce food, substantial products, and/or energy carriers.
They can be categorised into following categories:


Primary bioresources…

Citrus Fruits. The orange consumption in Europe is around 20 kg per head and year. It is highest in France with more than 110 kg per head and year. (eurostat)

Primary bioresources are generated for a specific application-oriented purpose in forestry, agri- or aquaculture to enable the production of food, substantial products, or eventually energy.
                                                                   Examples are
wood, grain, potato, bamboo, algae.


Note: Not all plants can be considered as a primary bioresource. Examples are plants from parks which have primarily a recreational function.



Virgin primary bioresources are grown plants or animals mainly.To virgin primary bioresources count the whole harvested nonprocessed plant or the slaughtered animal, respectively. Processed primary bioresources are the removed, most value-added parts of the virgin primary bioresource needed to produce the “core product”.             Example: spruce tree → stemwood → pulp for paper

Secondary bioresources…

may be generated during primary processing, in further industrial processing as by-products or residues, but also during maintenance of large greenareas. Typical regarding properties are following characteristics: they accrue genuine from virgin materials, they contain mainly a low amount of impurities, and they are produced in large quantities.

Fruit Residues.  Around 25 % of the mass of an orange is orange peel. They contain interesting extractives and organic matter usable for various purposes. This mixed fruit residue from the foto is used for biogas generation.

1. As processing outcomes they consist of parts from the primary bioresource. Mechanical, but also biological, chemical, or physical processes could beused for separations.

                                                                      2. As maintenance residues they are harvested on large green areas such as parks, lawns, sport places, and dikes as genuine fractions in significant amounts under controlled conditions in ample quality in terms of purity and freshness.


                                                                                                        Tertiary bioresources…

 are also parts from virgin materials, which were separated along the processing chain. But compared to secondary bioresources they are residues which occur rather in small amounts at the generation place and/or are not genuine. Also uncontrolled modifications, e.g. degradation during storage, may have taken place. They have generally a lower value than secondary bioresources.

Macro algea

Waste algea mixed with refuse from coastal cleaning.

1. In large-scale processing during harvesting, postharvesting, primary processing, and storage activities; during industrial processing, packaging, and distribution up to the retail sector.

2. At consumer level in small commerces (e.g., restaurants, canteens),and in private kitchens at household level. Especially in this category it is important to distinguish betweenavoidable and not avoidable fractions.
3. In maintenance of green areas  such as gardens, other green areas, and special installations with vegetation. The plant residues are not genuine and/or often partly degraded before they arrive in a utilization facility.


Quaternary bioresources…

soccur after a product was used. They can be distinguished regarding the time frames of their generation after start of utilization into short-, mid-, and long-term categories.
• In short-term after begin of product use they are generated in all
cases of food and feed consumption in the form of human feces and urine and as
animal excrements. Such bioresources are generated with short delay after food or
feed consumption at a time scale of hours.
• With a mid-term delay the quaternary bioresources appear in days to months after
begin of utilization. For example, packaging materials are only in use for the period
of transport, newsprints for one time readings.
• The time frame for the long-term after use group can reach from years to centuries.
For example, wood construction materials, integrated in houses may last decades to
centuries till they become waste wood. Materials used for furniture construction
commonly have a life-time ranging from years to decades.

Toilette residues contain organics and plant nutrients.

This old furniture was sold cheap and becomes utilized again.




The value of bioresources

Primary bioresources from agriculture have traditionally special value for food & feed and from forestry for pulp & paper, particle boards and construction wood production. As „side effect“ they are from large value regarding their welfare and cultural function.

Biomass will be a scare resource in future, because the area for growing of primary bioresources is the limiting factor. The efficient utilization of secondary, tertiary and quaternary bioresources is therefore absolutly necessary.

Today waste & wastewater based secondary, tertiary and quaternary bioresources are often either not collected at all, disposed or inefficiently treated. This has to change! Manifold products are possible to make from the waste & wastewater based bioresources ranging e.g. from compost & biogas over mineral fertilizers & bioethanol & lactic acid up to specific chemicals and much more. Some are produced already in technical scale, but mostly the research & demonstration is actually pre-dominant. The design of multi-product cascades and biorefineries is from special interst for the future to use bioresources as complete as possible.


Further reading:

Körner (2015): Civilization Biorefineries: Efficient Utilization of Residue-Based Bioresources. In: Industrial Biorefineries and White Biotechnology. Chapter 7,





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