Bioeconomy 101

The Bioeconomy refers to the conversion of bio-based feedstock (agricultural and forestry biomass, municipal and livestock waste) into bio-based products like biofuels, renewable chemicals, and heat.

Biofuels are fuels derived from renewable materials like corn and soy. Advanced biofuels are renewable fuels designated by the EPA under the Renewable Fuel standard to have lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions that are at least 50% less than gasoline. Examples: cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, butanol, biogasoline, biogas

Biochemicals (or renewable chemicals) are chemicals, polymers, monomers, or plastics that are not sold primarily for use as food, feed, or fuel and are composed of at least 51% of bio-based feedstock Examples: plastics, PVC, 3D printing, specialty chemicals, household chemicals, fabrics, paint

Biothermal is heat produced from biomass (living or recently living biological materials that can be used for fuel or industrial production) Example: combusting solid biomass in a boiler to supply heat for a business

BioCNG is compressed natural gas derived from biological sources, often through anaerobic digestion

What are the benefits?


A 2015 economic impact analysis conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension showed that growing the Bioeconomy in Minnesota could boost the economy by over $830 million per year and create more than 3,000 jobs. Additionally, the Bioeconomy improves energy security by reducing out of state energy imports, thereby growing the economy further because of keeping money within the state.


The Bioeconomy offers environmental benefits through lower emissions and improved water quality. Advanced biofuels offer a 50% reduction in greenhouse gases compared to gasoline, and renewable chemicals offer GHG reductions compared to petroleum-based chemicals. By focusing on using biomass feedstocks for industrial products, particularly perennial grass feedstocks, it can improve soil quality, water quality, and wildlife on a landscape scale.


Minnesota companies are developing safe alternatives to the most common toxic chemicals found on the market by producing renewable chemicals from bio-based feedstocks. Opportunities exist to continue phasing out toxic petroleum-based chemicals with renewable chemicals.