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Efficient pre-treatment of lignocellulosic feedstock to advanced bio-based chemicals and biomaterials

Specific challenge: Pre-treatment processes are of central importance in the lignocellulosic biomass (e.g. agricultural residues and wood pellets) to 2nd generation bio-based chemicals and biomaterials value chains. They have an impact on the composition of the isolated sugars streams and in turn on the fermentation yields / titres (e.g through the presence of inhibitors) and the quality of the (isolated) final product (e.g. through impurities carried forward from the pre-treated biomass and hydrolysis process). Despite the existence of pre-treatment methods already at demonstration plant level, the process itself still requires substantial optimisation towards a sustainable and economically viable standard.

Scope: Development of mild, sustainable processes aimed at fractionating lignocellulosic feedstock (that may include multiple biomass sources) into sugars and lignin fractions, focussing on biocatalysts (enzymes or whole cell bacteria, yeasts) with improved conversion rate and yield. Proposals should address the development at experimental bench-scale of pre-treatment/hydrolysis processes and their integration into the subsequent fermentation step up to the level of pilot-scale. Involvement of end-users could be considered towards assuring the viability of the developed concepts in the value chain. Proposals should assess the impact of the developed pre-treatment processes on the environmental, social and economic performance of the whole value chain.

It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget between EUR 5 and 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.

Expected impact:

         Developing efficient and integrated pre-treatment processes leading to a tangible reduction of investment and operating costs over the biomass to bioproduct conversion.

         Delivering fermentable sugars of suitable quality for further conversion in advanced biochemicals, at a price competitive with (preferably lower than) the current market price of sugars and a pretreatment yield of at least 80% on biomass.

         Reducing GHG emission by at least 30% over the whole value chain of the targeted products as compared to conventional ones.

         Contributing to reinforcing cooperation along the value chain from feedstock suppliers (e.g. farmers, land and forest owners) to technology providers and end-users.

Enabling the mobilisation and conversion of lignocellulosic feedstock into cost-competitive bio-based chemicals and materials.