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Integrated ‘zero waste’ biorefinery utilising all fractions of the feedstock for production of chemicals and materials


Demonstrate at industrial level a successful and profitable bio-based plant that converts all fractions of the feedstock primarily into chemicals and materials, through a cascading approach where applicable.

All biological and/or chemical routes or combinations of these routes are applicable, provided they have been already proven at a significant scale (preferably demonstration levels TRLs 6-7, but at least pilot plant level TRL 5). Proposals should target the complete utilisation of all fractions of the biomass feedstock, ideally leading to ‘zero waste’. The minimum target for converting the biomass into chemicals and materials is 95 % of its initial carbon content. Proposals should apply state-of-the-art metrics to assess the efficiency of the conversion system in terms of mass and energy inputs and outputs (see also LCA below). Proposals should aim to achieve industrial operation of the innovative processing stages to achieve full feedstock valorisation, and their integration into existing facilities. This will benefit efforts to maximise the return on investment of current assets and minimise capital expenditure. This integration will also help generate the knowledge and information needed to reduce risk in investments in future industrial-scale installations.

Proposals should specifically demonstrate the benefits versus the state-of-the-art and existing technologies. 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 8. Proposals should clearly state the starting TRL. The proposed work should enable the technology to achieve TRL 8 within the timeframe of the project.

Proposals should include an environmental, an economic and a social assessment using Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) methodologies. Proposals should also include a viability performance check of the developed process(es) based on available standards, certification, accepted and validated approaches. Furthermore, proposals should provide appropriate business models.

Indicative funding: It is considered that proposals requesting a contribution of maximally EUR 21 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:

Biorefineries converting feedstock into chemicals and materials will become the backbone of the future production of sustainable products. Such facilities combine several fundamental process steps, including the appropriate pre-treatment, conversion and downstream processes. One challenge has always been the efficient integration of all process steps.

Another significant challenge is to convert all fractions of the feedstock used in a biorefinery into chemicals and materials with the highest added value possible, to improve the profitability of the biorefinery.

The specific challenge is to utilise all fractions of the biomass feedstock to produce chemicals and materials, targeting ‘zero waste’ and a minimum diversion of carbon content streams to low-value uses.

  • contribute to KPI 1: create at least 2 new cross-sector interconnections in bio-based economy clusters;
  • contribute to KPI 2: establish at least 2 new bio-based value chains;
  • contribute to KPI 5: create at least 3 new bio-based materials;
  • contribute to KPI 6: create at least 2 new ‘consumer’ products produced from bio-based chemicals and materials;
  • reduce ‘waste’ from a biorefining operation by at least 80 % compared with the state-of-the-art.