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Industrial biotransformation for the production of bio-based chemicals


Improve the techniques for microbial construction and control, leading to an intensification of microbial bio-catalysis for the converting biomass into bio-based chemicals and avoiding the use of chemical additives in the production cycle in order to limit the environmental impact of the process. Proposal should also prove significant improvements in at least two of these aspects:

  • Optimisation of the kinetics of the conversion process.
  • Extension of the suitable pH-range.
  • Maximisation of the yield of the biotransformation diminishing side-products /inhibitors that have a negative impact on subsequent process.

Through these activities, proposals should provide new robust strains with higher production yield for longer production cycle, as well as relevant improvements in the market value of by-products and side-streams. In particular, compliance with regulatory framework and commercial requirements of the valuable streams coming from the process must be validated and demonstrated.

Proposals should also assess the feasibility of scale-up and replication of the developed solutions into a wide range of bio-catalytic processes. This should allow for a better and broader application of the innovative techniques, with the aim of replacing current microbial strains within the value chains based on bio-catalysis. In addition, proposals should prove high levels of safety and sustainability, from technical, economic and environmental points of view, required for a feasible scale-up towards demonstration levels.

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 also 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.

Bio-catalysis enables transformation of starting biomass into bio-based products, often with higher selectivity and catalytic efficiency as well as requiring milder operational conditions versus chemical routes. Nevertheless, to establish industrial standards of bio-catalysis, microbial genomes need deep modulation to boost naturally occurring chemical reactions or induce new reactions that are of industrial interest.

The continuity of bio-based production, needed to increase the overall economic sustainability, is hindered by the drawbacks associated with the use of living microorganisms. Along with the quite long residence times often required and the limited suitable pH-ranges, the tendency of such microorganisms to accumulate mutations leads to a genetic drift which negatively impacts the production stability. In order to increase the industrial bio-catalysis production cycle, there is a need of microorganisms that maintain their bio-catalytic characteristics for longer period of time (meaning higher generation number). Also, further research is required to mitigate the impact of environmental microbial flora that may negatively affect the bio-production in terms of yield and/or quality of the products.

  • Opening up possible new microbial bio-catalytic processes with longer production cycle.
  • Developed more robust microbial strains presenting a broader bio-catalytic application spectrum in terms of both biomass’ features and origin.
  • Proven compliance with regulatory aspects, in particular EU legislation, of side-streams and by-products coming from the process, in view of their potential commercialisation and/or further industrial exploitation.
  • Introduction of new routes and technologies for bio-based processes able to reduce their scale-up time as well as the time-to-market of the resultant products.
  • Contribution to the BBI JU Key Performance Indicators (KPI), specifically:
    • Lead to the creation of at least 1 new cooperation project through cross-industry clusters (KPI 3).