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Bioenergy 2018/ key indicators

Recent Inventions / Brief Overview

This review provides key statistical results of the analysis of patent applications filed with world patent offices in 2018 on topics related to the production of energy from biomass. In total, 1603 documents were selected for consideration, which were submitted by 836 applicants from 42 countries and registered in 36 patent offices around the world. Patent document retrieval and processing procedures are available on the Advanced Energy Technologies website. The list of technological areas of bioenergy, as well as the distribution of patent documents among them, is presented in the figure below.

Most often, inventors in their patent applications were focused on areas related to methane production technologies from various organic substances, including from municipal waste (Landfill gas) and sewage (Methane from wastewater). Such inventions are mentioned in more than 66% of patent documents. In almost 12% of cases, the topic of inventions was the production of cellulosic ethanol, and in about 9% the production of liquid fuel from algae. The thermochemical methods for biomass processing (Biomass gasification, Pyrolysis & torrefaction, Biomass-to-liquids), were found in 11.7% of patent applications.

Distribution of patent documents by technology

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

AL – Algae; BFT - Biomass-to-liquids (Fischer-Tropsch); BG – Biogas; CE - Cellulosic ethanol; GF - Biomass gasification; LFG - Landfill gas; MW - Methane from wastewater; OU - Other and unspecified technologies; PT - Pyrolysis & torrefaction

The most popular with applicants were the Chinese Patent Offices (CNIPA) and the United States (USPTO), where 27.6% and 17.7% of patent applications were registered, respectively. More than 5% of applications on the subject under consideration were also found in EPO (EPC states), WIPO and INPI (Brazil). 11.5% of patent applications were filed with patent offices not included in the top 10. The top 10 patent offices registered patent applications from 32 countries, and each of them registered applicants from at least ten different countries.

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

Offise2018Share of total, %
Canadian Intellectual Property Office292
State Intellectual Property Office, China44231.2
European Patent Office17312.2
National Institute of Industrial Property, Brazil1138
IP Australia574
Japan Patent Office785.5
Korean Intellectual Property Office, South Korea423
Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia292
United States Patent and Trademark Office28319.9
World Intellectual Property Organization17312.2

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

In the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia all (100%) applications were submitted by non-residents; in the National Institute of Industrial Property (Brazil) 96%; in IP Australia 91%; in the Korean Intellectual Property Office, Canadian Intellectual Property Office and Industrial Property Office (Japan) approximately 70% of applicants were non-residents. In the National Intellectual Property Administration (China), the share of non-residents was minimal among the top 10 offices 22%; while in the United States Patent and Trademark Office non-residents registered 56% of applications.

Inventors from the United States and China were equally productive (24.9% and 23.4%, respectively). In addition to them, the top 10 countries whose residents prepared the greatest number of applications included France, Germany, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Denmark and Finland. The share of applicants from other countries was quite high
almost 20%.

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

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

Most often, patent applications were assigned to the following groups of the International Patent Classification C12M 1/00 (Apparatus for enzymology or microbiology), C12P 7/00 (Preparation of oxygen-containing organic compounds) and B01D 53/00 (Separation of gases or vapours; Recovering vapors of volatile solvents from gases; Chemical or biological purification of waste gases), the total volume of which exceeded 25%.

Among the types of technical solutions, various production methods dominated, which were mentioned in 45% of documents (including other types of solutions). Devices and compositions were the subject of inventions in 35% and 20% of patent applications, respectively. Two or even three types of technical solutions were simultaneously offered in approximately 50% of applications.

Primary processing and Pre-treatment of feedstock prevailed in the list of basic technological operations for biomass processing (27% and 19% of patent applications, respectively). In addition to them, technical solutions often related to Finishing treatment, Chemistry and other substances, Methods of control and diagnostics, Secondary equipment.

A list of the main problems addressed by the applicants is presented in the table below.

 Distribution of technical problems in the patent applications found

ProblemAverage ratingShare, %Total 2018
Administrative and organisational problems8.852.261
Environmental and social impact8.6612.7361
High CAPEX / Development8.143.6103
High CAPEX / Equipment7.935.1144
High costs in general9.39.6271
High OPEX / Poor performance9.086170
High OPEX / Repair and replacement8.331.645
High OPEX / Utilization8.629.7274
Low efficiency in general8.022.262
Low efficiency of main processes8.6230.6869
Low efficiency of product treatment8.098.7246
Low efficiency / Variete of feedstock10.94.8137
Unclear problem6.763.393

Source: Advanced Energy Technologies

As follows from the data in the table, “Low efficiency of main processes” dominated the selected patent documents. Among other problems it is necessary to highlight - Environmental and social impact, High OPEX / Utilization, Low efficiency of product treatment, and High costs in general. The share of unclear problems was relatively low - slightly more than 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.