28 Feb 2020

Södra first in the world with fossil-free biomethanol

Södra, Sweden’s largest forest-owner association, decided to invest in a biomethanol production facility in 2017, helping them move towards a circular economy, resource-efficiency and being fossil-fuel free. This is a great example of what the Rehap project is also trying to achieve in strengthening the European bio-economy industry.

Södra has built the world’s first plant for commercial biomethanol, a sustainable fuel from forest biomass, at Södra’s pulp mill in Mönsterås. Over the next few days, a first pilot delivery will go to Emmelev A/S, a customer that will be using biomethanol in its biodiesel production.

“It is with pride that we have now started up the first commercial plant in the world for biomethanol. The transition to a bioeconomy means that all raw materials must be used efficiently. Biomethanol is produced from the crude methanol recovered from the manufacturing process at Södra’s pulp mills. It is part of the circular process that already exists in Södra’s mills, in which all parts of forest products are used for the best possible effect. With this step, we are showing the way to a fossil-free society, and it is fully in line with our own strategy for fossil-free transportation by 2030,” said Henrik Brodin, Strategic Business Development Manager at Södra.

The investment is also broadening Södra’s product portfolio with a new bioproduct.

“More and more people are realising why we need to switch to fossil-free alternatives. That’s why it feels so great that we can bring biomethanol to the market as a substitute for fossil methanol in the transport sector as well as a chemical base. Demand for bio-based products is favourable and we have long experience in delivering other bioproducts to the fuel and chemical industries. As we now continue to build on that, it feels particularly gratifying to have made a first pilot delivery to our customer Emmelev A/S. We are now looking forward to continuing the development of the product together with our customers,” said Viktor Odenbrink, Sales Manager at Södra Cell Bioproducts.

Emmelev A/S is a Danish family-owned agricultural company that has developed large-scale biodiesel production from local canola, but uses fossil methanol as a raw material in production.

“Biodiesel will play a key role in the transition to a fossil-free Denmark and we are very happy that Swedish biomethanol will now be used in production. Our biodiesel will be 100% renewable and based on locally sourced raw materials. Biodiesel produced from Danish canola and Swedish forests can secure fuel supplies for heavy road transport, as well as buses and construction machinery. This will be crucial for a transformation of the energy sector. We emphasise local and regional production and consider Sweden part of our local area, and we have good relationships with Swedish companies. It therefore feels natural to be entering into an agreement with Södra,” said Morten Simonsen, co-owner of Emmelev A/S.

13 Feb 2020

Rehap to hold workshop at EUBCE

Rehap will be holding a workshop in April at the 28th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition (EUBCE) in Marseille.

EUBCE has grown from a small research community biomass conference more than 30 years ago into a well-established international conference, tackling challenges ranging from biomass growth and biomass conversion to bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts, sustainability and policies, and to provide a forum for industrial implementation of technologies enabling the transition away from fossil fuels economies.

The 28th EUBCE will expand its portfolio from energy related biomass production and conversion of bio-based feedstock to other sectors of the economy and will now integrate the bioeconomy into its conference programme.

Rehap’s workshop at the event will focus on the revalorization of biomass, and will discuss valuable information from the project about the processes involved in obtaining the intermediates, the developments and innovation in producing bioproducts and the integration of these products in exciting new bio-based materials.

If completed in time, there will also be discussion about the LCA/LCC of a “virtual biorefinery” integrating all of the REHAP processes. This is a very novel development by REHAP and, if finished on time for April, will be presented at the workshop.

 

 

 

27 Jan 2020

A sustainable alternative to crude oil

One of the main objectives of Rehap is to develop new methods for turning natural waste products into sustainable polyurethanes. A research team from the Fraunhofer Society and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) led by chemist Volker Sieber has been carrying out similar work, developing a new polyamide family which can be produced from a byproduct of cellulose production.

Polyamides are important plastics. They can be found in ski bindings and in cars or items of clothing. Commercially, they have been made predominantly from crude oil up until now; there are just a few “green” alternatives, such as polyamides based on castor oil.

Bio-based compounds are often significantly more expensive to produce and have therefore only been able to penetrate the market before now if they have had particular properties.

A team led by Volker Sieber, Professor of the Chemistry of Biogenic Raw Materials at TU Munich, has now developed a completely new polyamide family which can be produced from a byproduct of cellulose production.

New polyamide family

The biogenic starting material, (+)-3-carene, is made up of two rings which are fused to one another. The chemists at the TUM and the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) in Straubing have now modified one of the rings in such a way that it can be opened up, yielding a long chain of molecules, a polymer.

The second ring remains intact here. In this way, instead of a linear polymer chain like in traditional polyamides, a chain which bears many small rings and other side groups emerges. This gives the polymer completely new functions.

Special properties

The new polyamides impress thanks to their special properties which make them attractive for many applications. For example, they melt at higher temperatures than the competing crude oil derived products. In addition, the new compounds can be produced transparently as well as in a partially crystalline manner, which increases its later application possibilities using the same starting substance.

“By way of reaction conditions and catalysts during synthesis, we can easily control whether we will obtain a transparent or partially crystalline polyamide in the end,” explains Sieber. “However, the basis for this is offered above all by the specific structure of the bio-based starting material which would be very expensive to obtain from fossil raw materials.”

Increasing sustainability

From an industrial point of view, it is important that the synthesis basically takes place in one reaction container. This “one-pot” process would not just allow a significant reduction in costs, but would also mean a clear increase in sustainability, according to Sieber.

The biogenic starting material (+)-3-carene can actually be distilled at a high purity and comparatively low cost from the turpentine oil produced as a secondary product in the cellulose industry.

Up until now, the turpentine oil was only heated in the cellulose factories. “We use it as a vital starting material for plastics,” says Sieber. “This is an enormous increase in value.”

No competition with food production

Sieber points out that with turpentine oil being a side product of the forest industry, in contrary to the use of castor oil, we are not competing against food production. The researchers are not yet completely satisfied with the achieved overall yield of the process, this is at 25 percent by mass.

“Thanks to the simple scalability, the potential for an efficient process is very high,” says Paul Stockmann, whose doctoral thesis at the TUM is based on the findings. At the Fraunhofer IGB, the chemist is now working on establishing (+)-3-carene-based polyamides on the market as alternatives to crude-oil-based high-performance polyamides.

03 May 2017

Second partner meeting has started beneath the Finnish sun

 

The second Rehap consortium meeting began today in Espoo in Finland, where the the partners gathered at the offices of VTT.

The meeting has been very fruitful so far with the focus being on the life cycle analysis of all value chains leading from selected bio materials to the four main Rehap bio-products.

The afternoon session focused on project communication and dissemination and the work done so far in raising the profile of Rehap as well as highlighting the commercial opportunities of the bioeconomy.

Further sessions will include updates on the work being carried out by the remaining partners, while a visit to one of the impressive VTT labs has also been arranged.

More info surrounding the event will follow but in the meantime please follow us on twitter 

28 Apr 2017

The indispensable role of biomass – EUBCE 2017

Insight, the dissemination work package leader of Rehap is delighted to be presenting the project at the European Biomass Conference and Exhibition – EUBCE 2017 next week. The event, which takes place in Stockholm on June 12-15, is celebrating its 25th year with a full agenda of horizontal topics making it the premier forum for the biomass and bioenergy community, cutting across research, industry and policy.

The EUBCE programme includes 1,004 presentations, with a main focus on the evolving international policy debate about tackling climate change. The event will also provide a platform for the most innovative scientific and technical advances and industry projects. 

One of the key aims of the conference will be to examine how to close the gap between research achievements and industrial implementation, given that research in many areas has advanced considerably over the last decade.

Insight is coordinating a new H2020 project called BIOWAYS, a communications-focused project that will promote the huge potential of bio-based research results and raise public awareness of bio-based products, by developing a variety of communication techniques and through public engagement activities and the development of educational tools and materials.

“EUBCE 2017 will be a fantastic opportunity for projects attending to become involved in BIOWAYS and take advantage of the techniques and platforms being developed that will help them achieve this vital transition from research to industrial implementation,” says Insight MD and BIOWAYS coordinator William Davis.

EUBCE will also tackle the "The Indispensable Role of Biomass" as part of the long-term goal agreed at the Paris climate summit of limiting the increase of global average temperature and bioenergy in the wider bio-economy. Biomass potential, bioenergy policy targets for 2030 and beyond will also be part of this debate. 

Sessions will also address some of the major challenges that the biomass community is facing today such as bioenergy, the production and utilisation of biofuels and different potential biomass feedstocks, including the organic fraction of municipal waste, the recent findings in the field of thermochemical biomass conversion technologies as well as the challenges and opportunities of establishing bioconversion processes for the bio-based economy.

Key approaches for the integration of bioenergy technologies implemented in a flexible manner to provide energy output on demand as well as the latest developments of large-scale industrial plants processing biomass residues and wastes to biofuels and bioenergy will also be presented and discussed. 

The conference will conclude by debating how to "achieve the transition from research to industrial implementation". Important issues will be tackled during the conference, such as biomass production for energy integrated into food and feed farming, integration of bioenergy into a bio-based economy and that of bioenergy with other energy sources. 

Insight will be working with EUBCE to promote the event and will be covering the issues debated throughout. As a leading dissemination consultancy specialising in this sector, Insight is currently working with several EU-funded projects working in this field including BIOWAYS and now Rehap, an new H2020 effort which aims to provide a systemic approach to reduce energy demand and CO2 emissions of processes that transform agroforestry waste into high added-value products.

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