New €106 million for research and development are unveiled today for bio-based initiatives to turn renewable resources into useful bio-based products.
The announcement comes in the form of a second call for proposals for the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU), and will support research and innovation actions, including demonstration actions for making the best use of biomass.
The call for proposals is aimed at speeding up the development of new biorefineries. Moreover, it is focused on exploiting synergies across sectors. This means new business models that integrate economic actors all along the entire value chain.
It also means improving the strategic cooperation between the different economic sectors: linking actors involved in biomass supply (breeding and plant production, forestry, farming) to biorefineries and consumers of bio-based products. This integration of producers, refineries and consumers will help SMEs as their technologies, equipment and instruments will be needed to assist large enterprises as well as stand-alone projects.
Budget allocated for the second call for proposals
The budget for the proposals will be split as follows:
€28 million will be allocated for Research and Innovation Actions, and will cover the following topics:
1. Converting the streams of lignin (the complex organic polymers that make wood cells rigid) in biorefineries so they can be eventually used in sectors like chemical, transport, aerospace, textile, energy, and construction industries;
2. Pre-treating lignocellulose (plant dry matter) while simultaneously removing contaminants and separating lignin and cellulosic fractions. Solving this challenge will remove a major hurdle to processing biomass into feedstock; 3. Developing bio-based molecules for coating and surface treatment, a growing market as businesses aim to increase the shelf life of products;
4. Separating and extracting technologies to pull added value compounds such as bark and branches from wood and forest-based residues; 5. Promoting practices to improve effective forest management, so there is more access to wood resources with less of an environmental impact;
6. Developing sustainable cellulose based materials to ensure their strong market prospects as textiles, films and thermoplastics meet tight environmental demands;
7. Tailoring tree species to produce wood designed for industrial processes and biorefining purposes. This means engineering and generating wood feedstock with a chemical structure designed for later processing steps;
8. Increasing productivity of industrial multi-purpose agricultural crops: with limited natural resources, this means developing more efficient nutrient uptake, water use and land regeneration;
9. Making the most of the aquatic biomass: water plants like algae and microalgae have high value applications such as food ingredients, polymers, feed proteins, cosmetics, pharma, etc but the costs of the extraction and conversion need to come down.
An additional €12 million is assigned for Innovative and efficient biorefinery technologies. The aim is to improve the technologies pioneered by existing biorefineries so they become cost-competitive with respect to fossil counterparts. Most biorefineries today are designed to process only one kind of feedstock, which means most of the important value chains are not exploited.
The bulk of the grant, €64 million, will be allocated for Demonstration Actions that address the following:
1. Show how lignocellulosic feedstocks can be turned into chemical building blocks and high added value products, with products and processes benchmarked against fossil based alternatives;
2. Develop innovative cellulose-based composite packaging solutions, mainly to improve their mechanical properties and address contaminant control (dust, bacteria and other impurities);
3. Produce bio-based elastomers from Europe-grown feedstock;
4. Develop high purity bio-based intermediates and end products from vegetable oils and fats;
5. Make the most of agricultural residues and side streams from the agro-food industry;
6. Extract organic acids from municipal solid waste;
7. Overcome low product yields from fermentation processes in the production of industrial products like alcohols, acids, proteins, amino acids, and specialty carbohydrates.
€2 more million will cover Coordination and Support Actions. Part of this is focused on helping bio-based products meet the standards and regulations needed to trade across the EU and expand their market potential. Other actions are aimed at enhancing awareness of bio- based products and their benefits in order to get public acceptance and reach the success of a bioeconomy.
The call for proposals follows the July 2014 launch of the BBI JU, a €3.7 billion public-private partnership aimed at supporting the development of Europe’s emerging bioeconomy.
About BBI JU
The BBI JU is a public-private partnership (PPP), part of the EU’s plan to move its economy to a post-petroleum era. It is expected to help make the EU’s economy more resource-efficient and sustainable, while supporting growth and employment. €3.7 billion will fund the BBI JU between 2014 and 2024, with €975 million coming from the European Commission and €2.7 billion from its private partner, the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC).
The BBI is responsible for the implementation of open call for proposals for research and innovation actions, as well as coordination and support actions, in line with the Horizon 2020 rules for participation.