Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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The big turnoff

John McKenna, Editor

EU project targets biomass-to-chemicals processes

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Closing the gap between laboratory and the industrial practice for the production of chemicals from biomass is the target of the European Union’s BioConSepT project.

London – Closing the gap between laboratory and the industrial practice for the production of chemicals from biomass is the target of the European Union’s BioConSepT project, which starts this month.

The BioConSepT consortium is coordinated by TNO and consists of 31 partners from research and technology organisations, large industrial companies and small and medium-sized enterprises

Funded by the EU’s Knowledge Based Bio Economy programme, the Euro13-million project aims to demonstrate the complete feasibility of an integrated chain approach to commercialising new industrial ’white biotechnology’ processes.

These processes are to convert second-generation biomass into valuable chemicals. These are expected to be 30% cheaper and 30% more sustainable than the corresponding chemical routes or the biotechnology processes starting from first generation feedstocks like glucose.

BioConSepT is, therefore, focused on the use of feedstocks such as lignocellulose and non-edible oils and fats, which cannot be used for the production of food.

The partners have selected seven chains for chemicals that can be made from these materials. Both bioconversions with enzymes and microorganisms and chemical reactions are used in the production chains.

The introduction of continuous processes, novel reactors and selective separation technologies will generate breakthroughs in costs and sustainability, according to a statement from the BioConSepT consortium.

The project will deliver samples of the envisioned applications, which include green polymers, resins, plasticisers, surfactants and solvents for testing in the market. After two years, the two most promising chains will be selected for demonstration at a scale of 100 to 1000 kg product, said TNO.

“Taking a frontrunner position in the bio-based economy is essential for maintaining the leading economic position of the European process industry, the conservation of jobs, the security of energy supply and the creation of a sustainable society,” said TNO.

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