The Biomass Department of CENER (National Renewable Energy Centre of Spain) is convinced of the need to move towards a circular bioeconomy, in which the society is capable of valorising the wastes produced in an integral and cascade mode. On that regard, CENER is involved in 4 specific initiatives in order to develop the most adequate management and valorization routes of organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) and sewage sludge, such as:
- Designing a new concept of integral and cascade valorization of the different fractions that make up the OFMSW to obtain bioproducts with greater added value. CENER is developing processes for OFMSW fractionation, and carbohydrates, protein/lipid/lignin fractions valorisation through a variety of biochemical and chemical processes, subsequent optimization and upscaling, and upstream/downstream processes for the separation and purification of fractions. (“Circular Urban Biorefinery in Navarra” Project, financed by the Government of Navarra).
- To exploit OFMSW as feedstock to develop intermediate chemical products at high yield and low impurity level with huge industrial interest, such as lactic acid, succinic acid and biosurfactants. In particular, CENER is leading the research line of biosurfactants production by valorising the fermentation by-product remaining after bioethanol, succinic acid and lactic acid production. The hydrolysis and extraction of both protein and lipid fractions contained in the fermentation by-product and their use for the synthesis of the biosurfactant, which it is validated by the industry, are the main pillars of the research. (H2020 – BBI “PERCAL” Project).
- To close the gap between technological feasibility and industrial applications of urban biowaste valorisation by enhancing strategic cooperation between sectors. In the framework of this initiative promoting the valorisation of different biowaste fractions such as OFMSW, sewage sludge or HORECA wastes, CENER leads the pathway related to OFMSW valorization; executing the enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation in its BIO2C demonstration plant (Biorefinery and Bioenergy Centre) (TRL7), for a later production of biopesticides and biobased polyesters. (H2020 SCALIBUR Project).
- To prove the hydrothermal liquefaction technology pathway as a viable, sustainable and efficient route for production of liquid drop in fuels for road transport using such low value aggregated urban wastes as feedstock. CENER leads the research line related to the challenge of handling feedstocks with high organic nitrogen content. To overcome this barrier, firstly a pretreatment of feedstock using a mild & low temperature enzymatic hydrolysis with enzymes is executed. Secondly an extraction & purification processes are undergone for protein-derived amino acid and peptides valorization. (H2020 NextGenRoadFuels Project).
With these and other coming initiatives, CENER is developing technology for new biowaste valorization routes both at research & demo scale, for a later industry and market uptake, fostering its commitment in contributing to the Circular Economy Roadmap proposed by the European Commission, and to the wellbeing of the future society.