The transformation to modern agriculture is not only disrupt the agricultural sector but also bring in opportunity for industrial development of the country. Biorefinery is one of the most promising industry and is expected to grow at a rapid pace in the future. Many technology leading countries and agricultural-oriented countries have put the Biorefinery industry as a target industry with mechanism to supporting R&D investment in private sector as this will create value-added in raw materials of agricultural and biological resources. In term of raw material readiness, Thailand is major producer of sugar and starch, with mass amount of cellulosic wastes of agriculture available. Thailand is formerly an exporter of agricultural products as raw materials and early-stage processing with low value-added, but import chemical, material and energy in total value of more than 2 trillion Baht a year. The country has been developed the basic infrastructure to support the growth of Biorefinery industry for a time, especially development in petrochemical industry as a platform, as it mainly acquire similar production infrastructure. The Biorefinery industry is key solution to transform biomaterial into energy or other valuable substances in other industries. Major processes for Biorefinery are:
- Conversion process, which can be separated into 2 major processes: 1) Biological conversion uses biocatalysts, such as enzymes, to convert the carbohydrate portion of the biomass into an intermediate substance or end product using biological process such as fermentation, enzyme conversion, consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) biocatalyst, anaerobic digestion, etc.; 2) Chemical conversion uses chemical catalysis to convert substrate into an intermediate substance or end product.
- Downstream process is a process of isolation and purification as well as utilization of waste from the desired products. The downstream process, usually based on principle of physical and biological of the initial substance, consisted of product isolation process to isolate the desired substance from the production process, and the purification process.
Modern agriculture and Biorefinery industry will lead the country toward economic growth, income distribution, and sustainable development. To expedite the country development, Thailand aims to streamline the economic through Bioeconomy, Circular Economy, and Green Economy so called “BCG Economy”. These will commendably foster the agricultural sector, improve quality and added value to agricultural products, and top them up with advanced technologies and innovations to create more values for agro-product, diverse biological resources, and waste from production or consumption process. The development of BCG Economy will free Thailand from middle income trap, disparity and unbalanced economy. BCG will be developed using 3 principles which are BCG Economy toward Innovation Economy, BCG Economy towards Inclusive Economy, and BCG Economy towards Regenerative Economy.