3699 Replication of industrial ecosystems for sustainable biofuel production

Anastasia Tsvetkova , Chemical Engineering, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland
Magnus Gustafsson , Chemical Engineering, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland
Magnus Hellström , Chemical Engineering, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland
Mika Tuomola , Chemical Engineering, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland
Full Papers
  • Replication of IEs for sustainable biofuel production_Revised version.pdf (717.0 kB)
  • Justification of the paper:

    The utilization of organic waste and other organic by-products for biofuel production need to build on industrial symbiosis. The first challenge is to make such a symbiosis work as it involves setting up a complex system of firms supplying inputs to and others using outputs from the system. However, this is not enough. Due to the distributed character of biomass production, mass production of biofuels faces challenges when ensuring feasibility and sustainability of the produced fuel. At the same time, the need for adaptation of biofuel production to local conditions makes each biofuel production unique and difficult to copy the same solution in other locations. The distributed logic of biofuel production based on local industrial symbiosis is a highly attractive business: biomass exits everywhere, as well as energy demand. Current challenges of the concept are uncertainty and the need to consider multiple stakeholders’ business and interests in order to adjust biofuel production to local conditions. Replication through functional modularisation and mass customisation of biofuel production ecosystems are proposed in this paper as the solution to the outlined challenges.


    The purpose of the paper is to introduce and illustrate the idea of replication of biofuel production ecosystems. We aim at developing a model that helps companies reach economies of repetition, which focuses on re-using the knowledge and expertise rather than simply reproducing the physical products. Economies of repetition is the way to increase feasibility of biofuel production industry while ensuring local industrial symbiosis, and therefore environmental sustainability of the fuel. In this paper we will show how biofuel production ecosystems can be replicated and what are the implications on the biofuel industry, business models and structure it has.

    Theoretical framework:

    The theoretical framework of the paper is based on replication of industrial solutions. Replication, which provides economies of repetition, is based on reproducing knowledge and ‘recycling experience’ in order to offer repeatable solutions instead of one-off projects and thus expand business at lower costs. Our theoretical framework builds on three elements. First, the idea of modularity is used to decompose the systems into manageable and repeatable parts. Second, collaboration mechanisms are considered so as to trigger and enhance cooperation in the systems. Third, business models spanning traditional firm boundaries are designed to enable both value creation and capture within the system.


    In this paper we propose a framework for replicating industrial ecosystems for biofuel production. This framework includes the systemic perspective on biofuel industry, adaptation and collaboration mechanisms required for cooperating with the relevant stakeholders, the processes of functional modularisation and replication of the biofuel production ecosystems.


    The proposed replication approach is able to increase feasibility of distributed biofuel production while ensuring it environmental sustainability through the economies of repetition. With such approach biofuel industry can decrease uncertainty and increase knowledge and expertise part of the offering. In general, the proposed framework promotes decentralisation, collaborative way of working, and open innovation within biofuel and green energy industry.