From plants to plastics : Biomass transferred into valuable chemicals
Funded by the Knowledge Based Bio Economy program of the EU, the 13 M€ BioConSepT project starts in February 2012. The project wants to convince and inspire stakeholders of the Bio-based Economy by demonstrating the complete feasibility of an integrated chain approach, which is regarded as the basis for the next generation industrial White Biotechnology processes. The aim is to deliver processes that convert 2nd generation biomass into valuable chemicals, which are 30% cheaper and 30% more sustainable than the corresponding chemical routes or the biotechnology processes starting from 1st generation feedstocks like glucose.
BioConSepT focuses on the use of so-called 2nd generation feedstocks like lignocellulose and non-edible oils and fats, which cannot be used for the production of food. The partners have selected 7 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. The project will deliver samples of the envisioned applications, which include green polymers, resins, plasticizers, surfactants and solvents for testing in the market. After 2 years BioConSepT will select the 2 most promising chains for demonstration at a scale of 100 to 1000 kg product.
The transition of a fossil-based to a bio-based economy will have a tremendous impact on both society as a whole and important industrial sectors like agriculture, the chemical and food industries and the energy sector. 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. The BioConSepT consortium is coordinated by TNO and consists of 31 partners from Research & Technology Organizations, large industrial companies and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.