BBI.VC1.R1-2015 - Conversion of lignin-rich streams from biorefineries
- Closing the loop by utilising under-utilised side-streams from biorefineries in order to improve resource efficiency and environmental footprint of the whole sector.
- Reaching revalorisation of the lignin fraction of lignocellulosic biomass into valuable products that go beyond the current state of the art, reaching at least a 3-fold value increase as compared to the current energy value.
- Achieving technological validation of at least three new bio-based products resulting from purified lignin.
- Contributing to the establishment of new lignin-based value chains.
- Increasing sustainability and competitiveness of end-user sectors such as chemical, transportation, aerospace, textile, energy, and construction industries.
Develop efficient processes for the conversion of lignin-rich side streams from lignocellulosic biorefineries into biochemicals that have a higher value than their current energy application. Processes should be adaptable to different European‑relevant feedstocks. A cascading process could be envisaged in which lignin is progressively purified, depolymerised and refined to obtain different products from basic purified lignin. These products are to be used as e.g. substitute to phenol or other chemical building blocks, as a precursor for carbon fibres, functionalized lignin polymers or oligomers and monomers that could be further converted into chemicals, and solvents. A life-cycle assessment should be carried out in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed products. A credible path to move forward from the research phase towards the commercialisation of the results should be presented. Strong weight will be put on industrial leadership with view to achieve the fully exploiting of the developed processes and products. Involvement of end-users could be considered to help assure the viability of the developed concepts in the value chain.
It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget in the range of EUR 2-5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.
Existing lignocellulose-based biorefineries generate large-quantity side streams (e.g. hemicellulose, lignin, sugar derived condensed polymers) with limited accessibility for further conversion into valuable bio-based products, with the result that parts of these streams are currently burnt for energy production. Lignin is the most abundant of them as its complex structure makes it difficult to process it. Moreover, variations in feedstock and lignocellulose processing technologies significantly influence lignin properties thus requiring flexible approaches to be applied to the various heterogeneous lignin streams. The challenge is to enable the conversion of lignin-rich residual biorefinery streams into higher added value applications with a view to improving the sustainability and cost efficiency of the whole lignocellulose-based biorefinery concept.