High Tech Industry

Relement: aromatics from biomass

Around forty percent of all chemicals are aromatic chemicals. The products we use every day, from paint to plastics, are almost all aromatics, but these chemical raw materials are still extracted from oil, which causes a lot of CO2 emissions. Since 2013, TNO has been working with partners to produce aromatics from biomass as part of the Shared Research Center Biorizon.

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Performance bio-aromatics

The bio-aromatics developed by TNO have also proven to provide better performance in end products. For example, they make paint harder and more scratch-resistant. This has created interest with manufacturers of products such as coatings who would like to use these bio-aromatics in their products. This requires scaling up in order to be able to produce bio-aromatics commercially.

Aromatics from biomass

To this end, TNO has founded the spin-off company Relement and has exclusively licensed the current bio-aromatics technology to Relement. This spin-off focuses on further developing, scaling up and commercialising the TNO technology. Relement expects to see the first commercial application of bio-aromatics in coatings.

Customer demand

Sustainable aromatics production is a major contributor to achieving climate targets in the chemical sector. Many products that use aromatics, such as coatings, lubricants and glues, are difficult to recycle. It is imperative that these products in particular use bio-based raw materials. The aromatic ingredient is often the missing link to realise a fully bio-based product. The bio-based economy is a growth market, not only because the government stimulates initiatives in this area, but also because companies around the world increasingly take serious initiatives. Major brands ranging from the automotive industry to consumer products are active in this respect, whether or not compelled by customer demand.

Time to scale up

Since 2013, TNO has been active in the Shared Research Center Biorizon, headquartered at the Green Chemistry Campus in West Brabant, where it is developing technologies with companies and knowledge partners for the production of aromatics from residual biomass. In the past few years, TNO has started up pre-pilot skids that allowed various bio-aromatics to be produced at kilogram scale. This has laid the foundation for spin-off company Relement, as it enabled TNO to produce significant samples that the industry could use to perform lab-scale application tests.

Leading the way worldwide

Relement will be the first company in the world to scale up the production of functional bio-aromatics that can be used in applications that are difficult to recycle, such as coatings. If the scaling up is successful, the way will be open to roll out aromatics from biomass on a large scale, something the world is waiting for.

TNO spin-off Relement is in dialogue with investors and chemical companies that see opportunities in this groundbreaking technology. If the scaling up and implementation are successful, we can show the world that we are leading the way and, at the same time, stimulate innovation and business in our country. Meanwhile, TNO will continue its collaboration with Flemish research organisation VITO and the chemical industry in Biorizon, working on the development of technologies that will enable the commercial production of bio-aromatics. TNO will focus on the next generation of bio-aromatics such as fenol, and will also further expand its furan expertise.

Any interested parties can join the Biorizon Community free of charge.

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