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Innovative efficient biorefinery technologies


Proposals should develop innovative biorefinery technologies enabling the establishment of new efficient year-round operation biorefinery concepts and bio-based value chains through the conversion of different types of biomass feedstocks, including underutilised seasonal feedstocks. Proposals should aim to significantly increase the efficiency, yield and cost-effectiveness of technologies enabling the production of cost-competitive bio-based products in a cascading approach. Technologies might include:

  • Fractionation and separation technologies to simplify the disintegration of biomass into its basic components;
  • Advanced technologies to mildly extract or separate components while preserving their functionalities and minimising the degradation of other components to enable their further valorisation;
  • Bio-chemical or chemo-catalytic technologies to convert bio-based components into high added value products;

Proposals should fit in a cascading concept aimed at the integral use of the feedstock. Proposals should take into account feedstock availability and flexibility throughout the year, with the goal of producing bio-products (chemicals, materials) that can be cost-competitive with fossil counterparts and/or feature new or improved properties. A life cycle oriented approach should be carried out in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performances of the new concepts in comparison with their current alternatives. Strong weight will be put on industrial leadership to fully exploit the developed products/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.

The establishment of competitive integrated biorefineries that process biomass in a cascading approach, and that are able to continuously operate year-round is one of the key goals of the whole BBI Initiative. This requires not only the establishment of new business and cooperation models (e.g. for primary and secondary economic sector cooperation) but, very importantly, research and development investments in (1) improving technologies pioneered by existing biorefineries in order to become cost-competitive with respect to fossil counterparts (2) developing a new generation of breakthrough technologies to form the basis for tomorrow’s biorefineries, (3) the enabling the combination and processing of different kinds of input biomass leading to the establishment of larger biorefineries, benefiting from scale economy. At present, most existing biorefineries are designed to process only one kind of feedstock (or at most a family of similar feedstock) with constant properties throughout the year. As a result, significant value chains are not exploited or under-exploited because of seasonal variation or unavailability of adequate quantities of sufficiently uniform feedstock at any given time of the year.

  • A 20 % increase of conversion efficiency (product/ton of biomass in input) over state of the art comparable technologies.
  • Integrated processes leading to products with significant higher value than the current application of the biomass.
  • A 20 % improvement in resource efficiency (consumption of energy and water) over state of the art comparable technologies.
  • Year round operation due to smart combination, pre-treatment and storage of feedstock.
  • Achieving technological validation of one or more of the following products: new building blocks based on biomass of European origin functionalised chemicals and materials with lower environmental footprint and societal benefits valorisation of proteins from plant residues; bio-based materials (e.g. such as specialty fibres, plastics, composites and packaging solutions); new ‘consumer’ products based on bio-based chemicals and materials; new biodegradable, compostable or recyclable bio based products and materials for short life application.