A traditional petrochemical refinery breaks crude oil into various chemical components. These components are further refined into transport fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, industrial chemicals, such as lubricants, and various chemical intermediates that, in turn, are used to make an endless array of consumer products, such as plastics, cosmetics and clothing.
Using sugars and biomass as the feedstocks, a biorefinery can do the same thing. These biobased feedstocks can also be refined into various chemical intermediates, which then can be used to produce a range of consumer products. Many of these products are direct replacements for or improved versions of items that were traditionally derived from petrochemicals.