Alkol Biotech and Bio Refinery Development BV announce they have just signed a LOI – Letter of Intent – for the sourcing of up to 500 thousand tons of non-woody lignocellulosic biomass for what would be Europe’s largest biorefinery.
Alkol Biotech is a UK based company which is leading the way in the development of sustainable feedstocks to feed the new bio-based economy. The company adapts plant varieties to grow in colder and drier climates, offering better resistance to pests and diseases, and higher productivities. Its first crop is the EUnergyCane, currently the only cane variety natively European and able to grow in cold regions. This leadership meant that the company was a finalist in the 2017 edition of the Global Energy Awards in the category “Industry Leadership Award – Bioenergy”, alongside companies such as DuPont and UPM.
Bio Refinery Development BV, commercialization partner in BIOFOREVER, a consortium of 14 companies in Europe, destined to ultimately build a biorefinery to produce a number of products normally sourced from oil. The project objectives are to establish competitive set-ups for biorefinery processes based on 4 different pre-treatment technologies for the production of intermediates such as cellulose, C5/C6 sugars, lignin and humins, to create conversion routes from the intermediates to 6 bio-based building blocks or end-products such as carbon binders, butanol, resin acid, enzymes and furan dicarboxylic acid (FDCA), and to demonstrate 5 lignocellulosic (LC) value chains at pre-industrial scale for selected final products.
To this end, the consortium includes key names in the biotechnology arena such as Avantium, Borregaard, Royal DSM, Green Biologics, MetGen, etc. and its original intention is to use woody-based feedstock such as pine, poplar and/or waste wood to obtain the expected chemicals. However, for an attractive business case – without subsidies – competitive sources of lignocellulosic biomass are required and due to the high demand for woody biomass for – subsidized – heat and power generation BRD is also exploring other lignocellulosic feedstocks.
To this end, several research have shown that cane varieties from the genum saccharumand similar grasses to be by far the most economic feedstock due to its high yield per hectare, low lignin, no resin and high cellulose content. However, it is thought that those canes do not grow in Europe due to its low temperatures. To this end, UK-based Alkol Biotech identified a naturally occurring and cold-resistant variety it called EUnergyCane. In fact, to this date, Alkol Biotech is the only company in Europe able to provide European-grown canes to any biotechnology project in the continent, as it did for example for French group Procethol.
Thus, BRD decided to also use non-woody feedstocks and to this end signed a LOI with Alkol Biotech. Through this, Alkol Biotech can provide each year up to 500 thousand tons non-woody biomass from its growing regions from Spain and Portugal (later, UK) to the port where the biorefinery will be built at a price of max. 70 euros per ton (on a dry mass basis). These growing regions do not compete in any way with food or feed production or have any ILUC issues.
In exchange, the future biorefinery will commit to purchase this biomass for the next 10 years with automatic renewal. Once the go/no go decision to build the biorefinery is taken, the LOI will transform into a regular supply contract under the same terms. The end result is that today, both parties can now show investors, shareholders, farmers, etc a stable feedstock provider and off-taker.
According to Alkol Biotech’s CEO Al Costa: “Even more than the obvious sense of achievement that the signing of this LOI brings, there is another which is the realisation that Europe is finally waking up to the fact that non-woody biomasses are a competitive option for the production of the chemicals and fuels of the future. As we approach 2020 with its 7% first generation biofuels limitation, as France phases out oil-based transportation in 2040, and when even the inventors of the oil industry themselves (the Rockefellers) formally leave the oil business, the need of suitable feedstocks become more than evident and we are confident we hold the answer.”
According to Anton Robek, Bio Refinery Development’s CEO: “The leadership of Alkol Biotech in non-woody biomasses was pivotal for us to sign this LOI. Not only we have now a reliable and competitive source of biomass, but a quality one, which at the end will mean less costs in enzymes and pre- and post-processing, and thus cost-effective renewable chemical building blocks.”
About Alkol Biotech
Alkol Biotech is a UK based company which is leading the way in the development of sustainable feedstocks to feed the new bio-based economy. The company adapts plant varieties to grow in colder and drier climates, offering better resistance to pests and diseases, and higher productivities. Its first crop is the EUnergyCane, currently the only cane variety natively European and able to grow in cold regions.
Monica Gut, Marketing Manager
London BioScience Innovation Centre
Tel.: (+44) 20 3475 8387
About Bio Refinery Development BV
BRD is the commercialization partner in the BIOFOREVER (BIO-based products from FORestry via Economically Viable European Routes) project; a European project to demonstrate the feasibility of conversion of lignocellulosic feedstocks like wood into chemical building blocks and high added value products. The project will run under the umbrella of the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) which is a public private partnership between the European Union and the Biobased IndustriesConsortium. The BIOFOREVER consortium consists of 14 European companies. The project will run 3 years from September 2016 – September 2019 with a total investment of 16 million euro.
Anton Robek, Founder and CEO
Tel: (+31) 620 016 964