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Valorisation of liquid and solid side streams from bio-based operations into high added-value products to create new feedstock for bio-based products


Demonstrate sustainable and cost-efficient processing technologies for converting side streams and co-products from bio-based operations into high added-value products and hence increase the supply of biomass feedstock.

Proposals should focus on streams that are currently too expensive to convert (such as diluted streams that need to be concentrated) and/or those without an established conversion route to high-value products. Several kinds of bio-based operations could be considered within the scope of this topic, including biorefining in various sectors and at different industrialisation levels, as well as bio-waste treatment. Proposals should deliver a complete conversion set-up, which should be either separate and interconnected or integrated in the primary plant. Proposals should prove that the resulting products have a significant market value, high enough to justify the development of new value chains based on the exploitation of currently un- or under-exploited streams from bio-based operations. In this framework, proposals should show that the developed process is sustainable from an economic and environmental point of view and provide appropriate business models. The valorisation of the side streams and co-products should target chemicals and materials. Proposals should address side streams and co-products in liquid, solid, sludge or ash state (gaseous streams are the subject of topic BBI 2017.R1). Proposals should demonstrate the innovativeness of the proposed solutions, starting from technologies already proven at smaller scales. These may differ depending on the feedstock to be treated and the type of the intended bio-based operation.

Proposals should specifically demonstrate the benefits versus the state-of-the-art processing schemes and existing technologies in terms of feedstock and energy efficiencies. This could be done by providing evidence of new processing solutions and new products obtained.

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL)1 at the end of the project should be 6-7. Proposals should clearly state the starting and target TRLs. The proposed work should enable the technology to achieve the target TRL within the timeframe of the project.

Proposals should include an environmental and economic assessment using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodologies. Proposals should also include a viability performance check of the developed process(es) and products based on available standards, certification, accepted and validated approaches.

Indicative funding: It is considered that proposals requesting a contribution of maximally EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

1 Technology Readiness Levels as defined in annex G of the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme:

Fully developed and sustainable biorefineries at an industrial scale require optimal valorisation of side streams generated during the different process steps. However, current practice is to divert these streams to low-value applications such as energy and fuels. Valorising these streams for higher-value applications requires further downstream processing steps. In some cases, within a cascading set-up of biorefining operations, the subsequent side streams could have a complex composition that makes it increasingly difficult to process them into valuable products.

The better this cascading operational set-up is at valorising subsequent liquid and solid side streams, the higher its competitiveness and sustainability will be. Resolving these challenges of downstream valorisation will potentially result in additional and new supplies of biomass feedstock for conversion into chemicals and materials.

This integrated approach will also create opportunities to enhance cooperation between different actors along and across the value chains, from biomass suppliers to biorefinery operators and market actors.

The specific challenge is to valorise liquid and solid biorefinery side streams with a composition that impedes their further processing into high added-value products beyond the state-of-the-art.

  • contribute to KPI 1: create at least 1 new cross-sector interconnection in bio-based economy clusters;
  • contribute to KPI 2: establish at least 1 new bio-based value chain;
  • contribute to KPI 6: create at least 2 new demonstrated consumer products based on bio-based chemicals and materials that meet market requirements;
  • 5-10 % reduction in side streams from the initial bio-based operation currently disposed of as ‘waste’;
  • overall reduction of at least 10 % in the carbon footprint of the considered bio-based operation compared with the state-of-the-art (shown by an LCA taken up in one of the work packages).