EU project aims to make biomass derived products competitive with fossil fuels
Developing and designing innovative biorefinery concepts to make biomass-derived products cost-competitive with fossil fuels is the goal of the newly launched BIOSYNERGY project. One of the main energy policy targets of the EU is to accelerate the use of biofuel - any fuel that is derived from biomass (plant or animal waste). Ideal candidates for producing biofuel include feedstocks such as sugar, wheat and corn. Unlike other natural resources such as petroleum, coal and nuclear fuels, biofuels are environmentally-friendly renewable energy sources. However, using biomass to produce transportation fuels, and to a lesser extent energy, is still more expensive than using these traditional resources. So, the four year €13 million EU-funded BIOSYNERGY project will work towards establishing a large scale biorefinery that can produce a number of high value chemicals, as well as large volumes of liquid transport fuels, and use the leftover energy to heat and power the plant. In this way the project partners hope that the chemicals will boost profitability, whilst the transport fuels will replace some of the fossil fuels currently on the market. The reuse of excess heat and power will also cut carbon emissions. 'BIOSYNERGY aims to achieve sound techno-economic process development of integrated production of chemicals, transportation fuels and energy, from lab-scale to pilot plant,' said Hans Reith, coordinator of the BIOSYNERGY project from the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN). 'This project will be instrumental in the future establishment of biorefineries that can produce bulk quantities of chemicals, fuels and energy from a wide range of biomass feedstocks,' he added. The researchers will use advanced fractionation and conversion processes for biomass, and combine biochemical and thermochemical pathways to develop the most economical and environmentally sound solutions for large-scale bioenergy production. 'We're developing concepts and carrying out supporting research to provide data to help implement a future biorefinery,' said Tony Bridgwater, Head of Aston University's Bioenergy Research Group, a partner in the project. BIOSYNERGY will set up pilot plants of the most promising technologies for a 'bioethanol side-streams' biorefinery, in close collaboration with the lignocellulose-to-bioethanol pilot plant currently under construction in Salamanca, Spain. Aston University will also lead work to identify the optimum biorefinery based biomass-to-product chains for a future European bio-based economy, test and characterise biomass and lignin in its fast pyrolysis reactors, and produce a BIOSYNERGY Road Show to communicate results.
Netherlands, United Kingdom