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Consortium scales up production of bio-aromatics from waste

TNO coordinates Waste2Aromatics project • 14 Jul 2016

Turning biodegradable waste, nappies, compost and sieving material from wastewater into valuable raw materials for the chemical industry? This challenge is being undertaken by a consortium. TNO provides the technologies required and coordinates this innovative Waste2Aromatics project from the Biorizon Shared Research Centre. Together with 11 partners it brings the circular economy and the commercial production of cost-competitive bio-aromatics significantly closer.

Aromatics are one of the main feedstocks of the chemical industry, constituting 40% of the total market. Currently, these are exclusively produced from fossil sources, generating considerable CO2 emissions. "This is a key milestone," says Monique Wekking, business development manager of Biorizon/TNO. "At the end of last year we convincingly proved that it is possible, on a lab scale, to convert waste streams into furans, the raw materials for aromatics, with a highly promising business case. We are now scaling up and working towards our ultimate goal: commercial production of bio-aromatics."

Unique collaboration: open innovation throughout the whole chain

A unique aspect of this follow-up project is the broad consortium in which all links of the value chain are represented: waste processors, water treatment companies, organisations, a designer and builder of pilots and a large scale user of aromatics in the production of polymers.

The project, with a budget 1.3 million euros, is being funded for 46% by the industrial consortium and for 53% by the Top consortium for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI) Chemistry.

Biorizon’s programme line ‘Sugars to Aromatics’, in which the Waste2Aromatics project plays a crucial role by developing technologies to supply cheap furans.

Profitable and sustainable prospects for the chemical industry

The Biorizon Shared Research Centre, an initiative of TNO, VITO and Green Chemistry Campus, is working with partners to develop technologies to produce aromatics from organic waste. This will reduce dependence on petroleum and lead to lower CO2 emissions and enables the transition to a circular economy.

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