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Bioenergy 2017/ key indicators

Recent Inventions / Brief Overview

Making energy products from biomass is attracting the attention of a number of companies and researchers due to an extensive and renewable resource base and systematic growth of a number of successful production projects, especially when it comes to biogas. For the purposes of the present report 2397 patent applications published in 2017 were collected that disclose novel technical solutions in different sectors of biomass conversion, excluding first generation conversion methods. The classification of patent documents was performed by analysing the texts of inventions and is based on direct statements and claims of the authors. Patent document retrieval and processing procedures are available on the Advanced Energy Technologies website. Patent applications that were published in 2017 are represented by 1198 applicants from 45 countries and filed in 45 patent offices around the world.
What attracted the most interest of inventors was the biogas production sector. Including Methane from wastewater and Landfill gas that are separate technological sectors of biogas production from waste, the share of patent applications concerning such technologies comprised about 47%. Thermochemical methods of biomass conversion were represented substantially less: Gasification – about 11%; Pyrolysis & torrefaction – 4.6%; Biomass-to-liquids – slightly over 3%. A fairly considerable position was taken by biochemical methods of biomass conversion, with bio fuel production from Algae being mentioned in almost 13% of cases, and from Cellulosic ethanol in nearly 14.5%.

Distribution of patent documents by technology

Technology categoriesTotal 2017Total 2017
Biomass-to-liquids (Fischer-Tropsch)963.27
Cellulosic ethanol42214.40
Biomass gasification31310.68
Landfill gas2117.20
Methane from wastewater38713.20
Other and unspecified technologies2137.27
Pyrolysis & torrefaction1344.57

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

In 2017, the highest number of patent applications was registered in the patent office of China – about 30% of the total number. The national patent offices of the USA and Brazil, as well as the regional office of Europe were also popular with the inventors. The share of WIPO international patent office slightly exceeded 8% of the applications. The smallest number of patent applications registered by non-resident applicants was in CNIPA (CN) – 18%. In INPI (BR), IP Australia (AU), MyIPO (MY), and IMPI (MX) the number of applications by non-residents was close or equal to 100%.

Distribution of patent applications, published by the top 10 patent offices

Offise2017Share of total, %
CNIPA (CN)71729.91
USPTO (US)36915.39
INPI (BR)29312.21
JPO (JP)1285.34
KIPO (KR)823.42
IP Australia (AU)712.96
CIPO (CA)592.46
MyIPO (MY)341.42
Rest of World26110.88
Grand Total2397100

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

The residents of the USA and China were dominating among the applicants in nearly equal measure, and their aggregate share of participation exceeded 53%. Noticeable activity in the patenting process was also shown by the representatives of Japan, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. The share of participation for each of these countries was from 2.1% to 5.5%.

Distribution of countries of the world by the number of resident applicants in patent applications

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

In most of the patent applications the inventors aimed to resolve the problems related to Low efficiency of main processes. This problem was mentioned in more than 33% of the total number of problems mentioned. The issues of Environmental and social impact were of considerable importance with mentions in 530 patent applications. Also, noticeable positions were taken by the problems of High costs in general, High OPEX / Poor performance, and High OPEX / Utilization.

 Distribution of technical problems in the patent applications found

ProblemAverage ratingShare, %Total 2017
Administrative and organisational problems92.6106
Environmental and social impact813.1530
High CAPEX / Development93.7151
High CAPEX / Equipment73.7151
High costs in general99.8395
High OPEX / Poor performance97.7310
High OPEX / Repair and replacement71.872
High OPEX / Utilization88.1328
Low efficiency in general80.937
Low efficiency of main processes833.81366
Low efficiency of product treatment86.1247
Low efficiency / Variete of feedstock105.7231
Unclear problem73122

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

In the revised inventions 1673 individual IPC subgroups were encountered, which were assigned in total almost 8500 times. The following IPC subgroups were assigned the most:

C12M1/107 Apparatus for enzymology or microbiology with means for collecting fermentation gases, e.g. methane;
C02F11/04 Treatment of sludge; Devices therefor. Anaerobic treatment; Production of methane by such processes;
C12P5/02 Preparation of hydrocarbons/acyclic;
C12M1/00 Apparatus for enzymology or microbiology;
C12P7/10 Preparation of oxygen-containing organic compounds/substrate containing cellulosic material.

Among the technology elements that specify the production processes of biomass conversion in patent applications, the following were mentioned in more than 10% cases: Primary processing (31%), Pre-treatment of feedstock (19%), Chemistry and other substances (11.5%), Finishing treatment (10.3%).

More detailed information on the methodology as well as on the results of patent researches in the most important fields of contemporary energy industry can be found at Advanced Energy Technologies.