18 Feb 2019

First production of isobutene from wheat straw at demo scale

Aim of the project is a new value chain combining Global Bioenergies bio-Isobutene process with technologies developed by Clariant and INEOS

  • New phase for the H2020 Optisochem project after 18 months of activity
  • Sugars from wheat straw produced at Clariant’s Sunliquid® pre-commercial plant have been shipped to Global Bioenergies’ Leuna demo plant
  •  Successful test runs for production of straw-based isobutene, batches delivered to INEOS for evaluation

Global Bioenergies today announces that runs using wheat straw hydrolysate provided by its partner Clariant were successfully performed in its Leuna demo plant, leading to the production of cellulosic isobutene for the first time at this scale. These runs were part of OPTISOCHEM, a project which started in June 2017 and was granted €9.8 million by the Bio Based Industry-Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU) as part of the H2020 program.

The aim of the project is to demonstrate a new value chain combining Global Bioenergies bio-Isobutene process with technologies developed by Clariant and INEOS, two of Europe’s leading chemical companies: currently underutilized residual wheat straw has been converted at demo scale into second generation renewable bio-isobutene, and will eventually be transformed into oligomers and polymers usable in lubricants, rubbers, cosmetics, solvents, plastics, or fuels applications. The intense R&D cooperation will continue until May 2021.

OPTISOCHEM focuses on the demonstration of a new value chain, based on the combination of the technologies and know-how of the participants from four EU member states:

  • Conversion of straw into glucose- and xylose-rich hydrolysates by Clariant sunliquid® technology (Germany),
  • Fermentation of the straw hydrolysates into bio-isobutene by Global Bioenergies (France and Germany),
  • Conversion of bio-isobutene into oligomers and polymers by INEOS (Germany and France),
  • Preliminary engineering of an hydrolysate-to-isobutene plant and overall integration with a straw-to-hydrolysate plant, by TechnipFMC and IPSB (France), and
  • Assessment of the sustainability and environmental benefits by the Energy Institute at the JKU Linz (Austria).

The BBI-JU, a public-private partnership between the European Union and the Bio-Industries Consortium (BIC), is dedicated to realizing the European bio-economy potential, turning biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products through innovative technologies and bio-refineries expected to become the heart of the bio-economy.

The BBI-JU selected this project under the name OPTISOCHEM (N°744330), in the frame of the European HORIZON 2020 programme for research and innovation, following a very selective and competitive process led by independent experts.

Markus Rarbach, Head of Biofuels & Derivatives of Clariant comments: “OPTISOCHEM is demonstrating a key value chain within the bio-economy: advanced bio-refineries based on agricultural residues. From our pre-commercial plant in Straubing (Germany) we have supplied cellulosic sugars in tons scale to Global Bioenergies’ facilities for conversion to bio-isobutene during the first period of the project. We are very pleased with the excellent results from all partners and will continue to provide additional quantities in the next phases so as to prepare for eventual commercial production in the future.”

Frederic Pâques, COO of Global Bioenergies declares: “During this first period, we successfully increased the performances of our micro-organism on traditional substrate such as sucrose and adapted our best microbial chassis to straw hydrolysates. We successfully run our pilot facility in Pomacle (France) and our Demo facility in Leuna (Germany) both with straw hydrolysate and sucrose as a benchmark. We expect to produce several tons of bio-isobutene on this new non-conventional feedstock in the remaining periods of the project”

Jean-François Boideau, EMEA Commercial General Manager at INEOS Oligomers, said: “Our sites have over fifty years of experience in the production of oligomers and polymers of isobutene which are used in lubricants, rubbers, cosmetics, plastics, solvents, and fuels. To date, we received several batches of bio-isobutene from Global Bioenergies for qualification purpose, and the quality is promising. During the next phase of the project, INEOS is ready to evaluate conversion of additional quantities of bio-isobutene into downstream products in order to assess the potential of this bio-based feedstock as a building block for end consumer applications.”

(Article sourced from: www.bio-based.eu/first-production-of-isobutene-from-wheat-straw-at-demo-scale/)

13 Feb 2019

Paper, the forgotten forest destroyer

As the world awakes to the threat posed by palm oil and soy to our forests, it’s in danger of overlooking how paper and packaging drives industrial logging, mis-shapes millions of hectares of forest landscapes and creates monoculture plantations, writes Sini Eräjää.

Sini Eräjää is international coordinator at the Environmental Paper Network (EPN), a world-wide grouping of over 140 civil society organisations.

Awareness of the destruction wrought by deforestation for agricultural commodities such as beef and soy has – thankfully – grown in recent years among policymakers and the public. Responding to mounting pressure, the European Union (EU) has finally promised to put the issue centre-stage, with its proposed action plan on deforestation.

Less well known are the dangers of forest degradation and loss. This is where forest landscapes are changed, even if not deforested entirely.

Global Forest Watch have made the scale and impacts of this loss strikingly tangible, revealing almost 30 million hectares of forests were lost in 2017 (an area about the size of Italy), with a type of destruction that is on the rise.

Earlier analysis indicates that while about 27% of this forest loss is permanent deforestation, most of it is a different kind of forest loss, like shifting cultivation for rural livelihoods that allows the trees to grow back later, or wildfire.

In about a quarter of the cases, loss is caused by logging by mostly northern forest industries which are often turning natural forests into faster growing plantations, clear cutting northern boreal forests, or just turning diverse ecosystems into more manageable rows of trees.

EU studies into the drivers of deforestation claim that the impacts of forest industries, such as paper, are too small to bother with. But these statistics show that forest industries affect an area similar to that of deforestation, with significant impacts on forests’ biodiversity, resilience and carbon storage capacity.

It’s time the EU took a closer look at the industries driving this.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 35-40 per cent of the trees cut for industrial purposes will be turned into paper products. While much of this wood comes from above mentioned “forestry practices”, there’s clear evidence, including from Indonesia, that some of this wood also comes from deforestation.

The paper and pulp industry is not too choosy about the kind of wood fibre they need – it has to be plentiful, cheap and preferably fast-growing. Vast, monotonous plantations of eucalyptus, acacia and other rapidly-growing species are therefore the side-products of our paper consumption (this kind of wood is not of much interest to the sawnwood or veneer industry).

Paper and pulp industry needs have also been central to the development of “sustainable forest management” definitions which emphasise efficient growth and large volumes of wood, rather than diverse forest ecosystems or wood fibre quality. Thinning and clear-cutting suits the industry much better than the selective logging advocated by many European conservation groups.

As the coordinator of Environmental Paper Network International, people often ask me whether paper is worth worrying about as we move towards paper-free books, bills and news.

But the truth is that paper consumption is shifting, not reducing. Per capita paper consumption is slightly declining in the highest using areas such as the USA and Europe, but this decline has been more than compensated by the increase in paper consumption in Asia.

And while newsprint and printing paper consumption is indeed on the decline, this is more than compensated by the growth in wrapping and packaging paper. A striking 55% of global paper consumption is now made of wrapping and packaging, meaning global paper consumption is also on the rise – from 392 million tonnes in 2010 to 410 million tonnes in 2017.

This is bad news for the forests which are facing increasing pressures, and terrible news for the climate. Paper products have a short lifespan – on average half of the products (and the carbon they stored) are gone in just two years – and the other half doesn’t last much longer. To meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals, we need to immediately move from using trees to produce packaging, to protecting and restoring them, cutting them only for long life products.

If we are serious about restoring our forest landscapes – whether for the sake of climate emissions, wildlife or livelihoods – we need go further than just trying to halt deforestation. To restore existing forests degraded by logging as well as degraded lands, we need less plantations and more complex forests that accumulate carbon in old trees and dense vegetation.

And for such a shift to be possible, we need to use less valuable wood fibres for industrial purposes and particularly for throwaway items like tissues, print papers and packaging, and more for products that store the carbon for longer periods.

The challenge to restore the world’s forests should start with our paper consumption choices.

08 Feb 2019

Bio-based webinar unlocking the potential of lignin

Webinar - The new wave in bio-based materials: maximum value from lignin with industry-specific fractions.

26th February 2019
3am PST / 5am EST /11am UK / 12noon CET / 13.00 EET

And available to watch on-demand afterwards. 

The era of affordable sugars, renewable biochemical and bio-based materials from lignocellulosic feedstock are here. Enabling a paradigm shift from petroleum and change over to renewable biomass, the new fractionation technologies of lignin allow the entire biomass to be utilized. Lignocellulosic biomass – a variety of non-edible, woody materials – is the largest renewable reservoir of fermentable carbohydrates, aromatic compounds, and other chemical building blocks. With the new wave of biotechnology, controlled size, solubility, and activity of lignin can be achieved.

As the exact lignin structure depends on biomass used, lignin fractionation process significantly affects the properties of lignin produced. Most of the lignin produced today is treated as a side stream and mostly used as black liquor for energy purposes. Without treatment, lignin is not usable for value-added products. Controlled fragmentation, polymerization, depolymerization, and activation allows the use of lignin in products such as paints, adhesives, artificial fibers, fertilizers, pesticides and naturally, plastics. Industries such as bio-refining, bio-plastics, and wood processing can directly benefit from solutions allowing for controlled size, solubility, activity, glass transition temperature and morphology of lignin material.

Do join us at a webinar on the new wave in bio-based materials!

Key issue to be discussed: 

  • Industry, academia and innovative SMEs – developing a common understanding of the road map to industry relevant fractions of lignin.
  • The future is here: how technical solutions are ready and lignin-based solutions have market pull.
  • Looking at the ground breaking technologies that are  serving the market with affordable industry specific lignin fractions – without which the bio-refinery concepts will never work
  • All of this is possible with a significantly reduced environmental footprint - find out how.

Presenters: 

Matti Heikklia, CTO, MetGen

Katja Salmenkivi, Development Manager, Metsä Fibre Oy, Finland

Dr. Nicole Labbé, Professor of Biomass Chemistry, Center for Renewable Carbon, The University of Tennessee.

To register for the webinar, please visit the website

(Article sourced from: www.biobasedworldnews.com/bio-based-webinar-unlocking-the-potential-of-lignin)

04 Feb 2019

Rehap to attend World Resources Forum 2019

The 2019 World Resources Forum, ‘Closing Loops – Transitions at work’ will be taking place on February 24-27 in Antwerp, Belgium, and Rehap have been invited to speak during one of the interactive deep-dive sessions, on the progress and results of the project towards a better bio-economy.

For 2019, the World Resources Forum is focused on closing resource loops and putting a circular economy in practice in order to help achieve the Agenda 2030 commitments. Thematic ‘Global Sessions’, with inspiring voices from leading experts will set the scene on key topics, as well as networking events and site visits to foster debate and discussion.

Rehap have been invited to speak as part of BBEPP’s session, Taste and feel the bio-economy - An aperitif, an appetizer? Curious about innovative, biobased materials and products entering the market as we speak? We created a circular bio-economy mood board for you! Come to ‘taste and feel’ the transition at work. We present several concrete real-world examples from different sectors, illustrating tasty and creative solutions for a genuine circular bio-economy.

The session will be taking place on the Tuesday of the three-day forum at 15:30 – 17:00 in the Flanders Meeting & Convention Centre. Aitor Barrio, Rehap project coordinator, will be presenting the most recent results of the project, alongside other speakers from various projects looking at issues of the bio-economy.

For more information on World Resources Forum, visit the website.

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