Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Cellulose is a well-known and widely exploited material. Besides its traditional uses, recent technological developments are opening up the opportunity for the use of cellulose in new and higher added value applications. This does not only enhance the competitiveness of the concerned industrial sectors but also significantly improves their environmental performance. While demonstration activities are being pursued to this end, the challenge lies in demonstrating at industrial scale first-of-a-kind cost-effective biorefinery concepts leading to the production of economically competitive cellulose-based products for bulk materials and volume applications.


Demonstration of the techno-economic viability of biorefinery concepts leading to new cellulose-based products with tailored functionalities into either of the following applications:

i) Microfibrillar cellulose (MFC) based additives providing enhanced properties such as control of rheology, barrier and strength properties for stabilizers of emulsions and dispersions, biodegradable viscosifiers, barrier and strength enhancers, industrial thickeners in glues, paint, pastes and slurries and many more new applications. Proposals should realise an industrial scale process to produce MFC in suitable quantities, for at least 1000 ton/y of MFC-based products with an optimised efficiency in terms of performance, throughput and energy requirements so as to allow a suitable price for a significant industrial production;

ii) Lightweight structural composites based on (bio-based and/or conventional) polymers reinforced with cellulose pulp fibres. Proposals should address the technological challenge represented by the different polarities and viscosities between the cellulose and the matrix. Proposals should realise an industrial scale process of at least 25000 ton/year of composite materials, which can be converted with established processes used in volume applications, especially injection moulding. Application of the developed composites should be demonstrated up to the end products in markets such as structural elements for the automotive and building industry, cases for electronics products or household appliances.

Proposals should pursue all possible means of industrial symbiosis and integration of actors along the whole value chain and, wherever possible, make use of existing facilities. Proposals should address the industrial integration of the developed concepts into a cascading use of forest biomass. Proposals should include testing of the products at relevant scale in potential applications, and prove that the bio-based alternatives match functional and price requirements from the industry. Proposals should prove the economical access to sufficient raw material to set up the new value chain, and elaborate on the actions taken to ensure the functioning/organisation of the supply chain. Proposal will assess market demand of the targeted products and will consider market-pull related activities (e.g. standardisation, consumers’ perception) aimed at facilitating their market uptake. A Life Cycle Analysis should be included in order to demonstrate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed products. Safety and quality of end products must be verified in order to meet commercial requirements. The leading role of relevant industrial partners is considered essential to achieve the full impact.

It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of up to EUR 35 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.

Expected Impact:
  • Opening up significant potential for job creation in rural areas. Creating green jobs and facilitating the development of entrepreneurial activities throughout the entire value chain, with advantages for the primary sector (i.e. forest), the secondary sector (e.g. logistics, bioproduct transformation industry) and the tertiary sector;
  • Proposals dealing with microfibrillar cellulose will demonstrate MFC-based products with validated potential for exploitation in at least 10 applications in 5 market segments (food and/or industrial applications). MFC-based demonstrated products will match or outperform properties of competing conventional products (e.g. synthetic polymers like acrylics, gums, hydrocolloids, thickeners and high molecular weight polymer stabilizers), and show a CO2 footprint 25% lower than competing technologies.
  • Proposals dealing with structural composites will demonstrate products that replace pure fossil based materials and compete with pure polymer solutions or mineral filled or short-fibre-glass reinforced composites in terms of mechanical properties, while exhibiting a significantly lower weight, reaching at least 25% weight reduction and a 100 times reduced tool wear compared to existing materials. Composite materials will be converted into at least 20 applications, thus increasing the competitiveness of leading European industries such as the automotive or chemical industry, along the value chain.

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