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Flexible biorefining technologies able to handle different feedstock, leading to new value chains or enlarging existing ones by using the same processing plant


Develop and validate at lab or at pilot scale the operation of a flexible biorefinery, able to tune its processes to accommodate different feedstock (without major investments in new equipment/facilities) in order to fully exploit the potential of biomass produced locally during the four seasons.

Proposals can focus on broad ‘one-fits-all’ technologies processing different biomasses, or on fast customisation of process conditions, e.g. by using different and specific enzymatic cocktails, to accommodate different types of biomass. In particular, proposals should prove the feasibility to use the same processing plant to process different feedstock by modifying and tailoring the operative conditions according to the available input.

Proposals should assess the feasibility of scaling up the developed solutions to semi-industrial level as a next step and replication in different regions and areas. Proposals should prove high conversion efficiency of different biomass feedstock into valuable bio-products.

Proposals should show the impact on the full value chain. Therefore, proposals need to involve a relevant range of biomass suppliers, representing the different biomass feedstocks under consideration. Proposals should seek complementary with the projects funded under topic H2020 RUR-8-2016 to avoid overlap and promote synergies.

The projects should cover any Technology Readiness Level (TRL) from 3 to 5. In the case of a pilot scale project (TRL 5), proposals should present a credible cost estimate for the proposed processes with a preliminary assessment of their competitiveness when scaled up.

Proposals should also include an environmental and socio-economic assessment, for example with an LCA. In particular, when targeting TRL 5, proposals should include an LCA in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed processes.

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.

Dependence on a single source of feedstock is one of the main bottlenecks for biorefinery operations. If biorefineries have the ability to process multiple inputs or to switch to different raw materials, they would have a substantial higher degree of flexibility in coping with feedstock price and availability variations. They will be able to follow market trends of raw materials, compensate for raw material price fluctuations and control their impact on the overall economics of biorefinery processes.

Handling different feedstock also requires dealing with their availability and composition that are a result of seasonal and geographical aspects. Increasing the ability to process a diverse supply of biomass feedstock at acceptable quality will allow a better utilisation of biorefinery capacity and improve its competitiveness.

The challenge is to develop flexible biorefining processes capable of handling feedstock of variable origin, composition and quantity without major investment in (new) equipment.

  • When targeting currently discontinuous biorefinery operations: Increased annual productivity of the targeted products by 10-20% as compared to the current production routes, proving the relevance of the continuity of biorefinery operations during the whole year.
  • Increased utilisation of biorefinery capacity during the year, thus reducing ‘down time’ that is mainly associated with fluctuations in biomass feedstock availability.
  • Reduction of 10-20% of the feedstock-related costs of a biorefinery as compared to a single-source biorefinery operating part-time during the year.
  • Biorefining capacity utilisation increase of 10-20% on annual basis.
  • Contribution to the BBI JU Key Performance Indicators (KPI), specifically:
    • Set the foundation of at least 1 new bio-based value chain (KPI 2), new bio-based materials (KPI 5) and for new demonstrated consumer products based on bio-based chemicals and materials (KPI 6), or significantly improve existing ones.