BBI.VC3.D3-2015 - Production of bio-based elastomers from Europe-grown feedstock
Demonstrate the techno-economic viability of new Europe-based value chains for the production of bio-based elastomers, e.g. rubber, from alternative feedstock and/or crops. Proposals should take into account the whole chain from agronomics (i.e. selection and growth of suitable EU-based crops) to conversion to the final product, via innovative cascading processes, which overcome known limitations of currently available extraction processes and enabling valorisation of all plant fractions. The envisaged process should provide the material in the suitable form for its final application. A life-cycle assessment should be carried out taking into account the valorisation of the biomass residues. Safety, quality and purity of the end products should be verified and validated. Produced materials should be tested regarding their mechanical performances following relevant industrial standards. Proposals will assess product demand and will consider market pull related activities (e.g. standardisation, consumers’ perception) aimed at facilitating the market uptake of the developed products. Proposals should demonstrate access to sufficient (European) biomass when the technology is scaled-up to commercial scale. 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 15 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.
Bio-based elastomers already represent a considerable market share, especially considering applications where they cannot be fully substituted by synthetic counterparts (e.g. rubber and latex) due to their superior mechanical properties. However, currently available feedstock, such as Hevea Brasiliensis (rubber tree), is mainly, if not only, of non-European origin and often accompanied by debatable sustainability issues related to deforestation and conflict with food crops. In order to reduce Europe's dependence on imports, it is necessary to explore alternative bio-based sources and crops able to build fully European value chains for the production of bio-based elastomers.
- Demonstrate economic sustainability in view of future developments of large size plants.
- Demonstrate cultivation of suitable feedstock with low or zero Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), addressing where applicable the issue of remediation of marginal land, with positive impact on the creation of green jobs and revitalisation of rural areas.
- Mechanical and functional properties of the elastomer will be comparable (90% or better) in comparison to conventional counterparts, and preferably with additional functionalities for new market segments.
- Reduced environmental impact of the extraction process, in particular regarding use of water and treatment of effluents.
- Improved separation and valorisation of other fractions of the crop e.g. lignocellulosic and/or resins;
- Process yield of at least 5 kg elastomer from 100 kg of raw material input.