23 November 2015

Bioplastic from waste fats and oils and lignocellulose

First large-scale bioplastic production from non-edible biomass

The four year EU-funded BioConSepT research project developed production processes based on non-edible biomass. In comparison to current processes for bioplastic production, they are not competing with food production and processes aim to be cheaper and more sustainable. The second generation biomass used includes non-edible oils and fats, as well as lignocellulose (wood and straw). They are transformed into intermediates like biobased polymers, resins, plasticisers and solvents, which can be applied in bioplastic production. 29 European partners collaborated and finally demonstrate successful production in an industry relevant scale.

Progress from biomass to applications

The whole production chain, from feedstock to final applications, is reflected in this European collaborative project. Chemical, enzymatical and microbial processes convert second generation biomass, which cannot be used in food production, into valuable platform chemicals used for example in bioplastics. Robust enzymes and microorganisms, continuous processes, new bioreactors and selective purification technologies were important factors to reduce production cost.

Large scale production

Upscaling of processes closes the gap from the lab to industrial production. The successful demonstration of production of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) and epoxides in product-relevant amounts shows the potential of second generation biomass. Bioreactors with up to 1 m3 produce about 100kg of both platform chemicals. They can be applied in packaging, in textiles as high strength fibres or in coatings and adhesives.

Final conference in Merseburg, Germany

The consortium invited the international chemical industry to Merseburg, Germany, from 10th – 11th November to showcase BioConSepT results. The conference focuses on the upscaling of production of FDCA and enzymatic epoxidation to an industrially relevant scale. It includes a visit to the piloting facilities of Fraunhofer CBP in Leuna, where some of the processing steps have been conducted. The consortium also presents the project’s most promising results from other bio-based chemical production chains.

The BioConSepT project

BioConSepT is a € 13 Million EU-funded research project which converts second generation biomass into valuable platform chemicals and bioplastics. This four year project is coordinated by TNO and involves 29 partners from industry, research and technology organisations, and small and medium sized enterprises.

Source: Fraunhofer IGB, press release, 2015-11-11.

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