In Belgium, the BIOFOREVER consortium of 14 European companies emerged from stealth with the news that they have started their demonstration project for the conversion of woody biomass to value adding chemical building blocks.
BIOFOREVER intends to demonstrate the feasibility of various new value chains from lignocellulosic feedstocks to chemical building blocks like butanol, ethanol, 2, 5 — furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) on an industrial scale.
A number of pre-treatment and subsequent conversion technologies will be demonstrated, including delivering commercialization routes for the most promising value chains.
The demonstration project started this month and will run for three years. The overall budget is 16.2 million euros with a 9.9 million euro contribution from BBI JU. Woody biomass, including waste wood will be converted to lignin, (nano-) cellulose and (hemi-) cellulosic sugars, and further converted to lignin derivatives and chemicals like butanol, ethanol and FDCA on industrial scale, where feedstocks will be benchmarked with crop residues and energy crops.
What’s the BBI JU Again?
The Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) is a 3.7 billion-euro public-private partnership (PPP) between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC). It is dedicated to realizing the European bioeconomy potential, turning biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products through innovative technologies and biorefineries, which are at the heart of the bioeconomy. The BBI JU is about connecting key sectors, creating new value chains and producing a range of innovative bio-based products to ultimately form a new bio-based community and economy.
BIC, the industrial partner in the PPP, hosts a unique mix of sectors including agriculture, agro-food, technology providers, forest-based, chemicals and energy. It was established in 2012 to represent the private sector in the BBI JU. The BIC membership consists of full industrial members (large companies, SMEs, universities, associations and technology platforms) and is still growing
About the Group, and Where Did That Name Come From?
The group applied last December for European funding under the Horizon 2020 program and in April 2016 the proposal was positively evaluated by BBI JU.
The name? It stands for a longer name that at one stage threatened to run forever. In all, the group’s formal name is BIO-based products from FORestry via Economically Viable European Routes.
Also playing a role? Anton Robek, last seen as the visionary head of DSM Bio-Based, now running BioRefinery Development at brdbv.com.
The first report of the “Club of Rome” (www.clubofrome.org) in 1972, was a hot topic of discussion during my first years at Wageningen University. Next to more “traditional” pollution by SO2 and NOx; the impact of halocarbons on the ozone hole, climate change was now also on the agenda of many lectures during my environmental sciences study. A frustrating observation at that time was that it would take until approx. the year 2000 to gather sufficient data to prove statistically that the climate is changing and the average global temperature is increasing.
By now most relevant parties are in agreement that there is such a thing as climate change and the debate now is how to avoid an average global temperature increase of more than 2 degrees celsius. There is a need for change — and fast — in order to contain the number of storms, droughts, heat waves and other extreme climate phenomena.
The BIOFOREVER Consortium Partners
• API Europe, Greece
• Avantium Chemicals BV, Netherlands
• Bioprocess Pilot Facility BV, Netherlands
• Borregaard AS, Norway
• Bio Refinery Development BV, Netherlands
• DSM, Netherlands
• Elkem Carbon AS, Norway
• Green Biologics Ltd, UK
• MetGen Oy, Finland
• Nova Institute, Germany
• Novasep Process SAS, France
• Phytowelt, Green Technologies GmbH, Germany
• Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands
• SUEZ Groupe, France
Reaction from the Stakeholders
Matti Heikkilä, Chief Technical Officer, MetGen Oy: “MetGen has always been enthusiastic about building new industrial value-chains through collaboration. We are certain that it is already possible to be competitive against petroleum-based chemicals and the food-based sugars utilizing existing technologies — more than that, we can make better products than is possible through conventional processes. To be successful in such a task requires connecting the capabilities and expertise of several companies and research organizations to create complementary and complete processes. BIOFOREVER brings together the most potential technologies in Europe and unifies professionals behind them to tackle an ambitious goal of enabling next generation bio-refining industry.”
Nadège Laborde, President of Novasep’s Industrial Biotech Business Unit: “BIOFOREVER is supporting the development of a sustainable economy and is part of the European 2020 Strategy. This industrial project must demonstrate we can reach economically viable production of bio-sourced products from a range of woody biomass. Novasep is thrilled to be part of this ambitious project, which is poised to succeed.”
Tim Davies, Chief Technical Officer, Green Biologics Ltd.: “Green Biologics relishes the opportunity to work towards the aims of BIOFOREVER, which, through combining a strong consortium of industrial biotechnology, chemical and manufacturing companies and the best available technologies, will drive toward the commercialization of renewable technology and the development of a world leading bio-refining industry.”
This article was originally published in Biofuels Digest and was republished with permission.