bio-fuels, bio-refineries, integrated system, renewable resources, sustaiable development, sustainable engineering
Sustainable Development (SD) is a multidisciplinary system by its very nature including technological and non- technological subsystems. It requires close collaboration among all engineering specializations as well as other disciplines. The most efficient approach to organize and communicate knowledge among different disciplines and help in innovation and creation of new knowledge is the Integrated System Approach (ISA). ISA is the most suitable for investigating the complex multidisciplinary SD and its related subjects. Sustainable Engineering (SE) is a subsystem of the technological subsystem of SD. Sustainability requires the use of Renewable Resources (RRs) to satisfy the needs of society, especially renewable Bio-Fuels (BFs). The use of edible agriculture RRs to produce BFs is not a strategic solution because of the negative socio-economical impact of using “food” for “fuel.” The most strategically promising route is the use of wasteful biomass and/or energy crops planted in lands and using water not suitable for food agriculture. BFs are location sensitive and, therefore, no single BF will dominate. Modern societies will move from the present matrix of dirty and non-renewable fuels to a matrix of clean and renewable fuels. The most promising BFs are: bio- hydrogen; bio-ethanol; bio-gasoline and bio-diesel. Different technologies for the production of these BFs will also survive due to sensitivity of the technology choice to available capital and markets. Bio-Fuel-Cells (BFCs) are also important and promising devices for efficient transfer of any fuel to electricity, which is the most suitable form for many applications. However, it is important to realize that societies do not live only on fuels/energy. This fact introduces the concept of Integrated Bio-Refineries (IBRs) which produce a wide range of Bio-Products (BPs) in addition to BFs to achieve overall SD and not only sustainability with respect to fuels. BFs production facilities and IBRs based on renewable waste materials as feedstock do not only produce useful BFs and BPs, but also solve environmental problems through this useful utilization of the waste materials. This paper addresses these important integrated challenges in a manner suitable to a wide range of audience including engineers, scientists, economists, political scientists, investors and decision makers.