EU research results


English EN


SPIRE-02-2014 - Adaptable industrial processes allowing the use of renewables as flexible feedstock for chemical and energy applications

Specific challenge:Use of biomass, residues and waste gases as feedstock/raw materials in industry to produce green chemical building blocks and energy is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. This will play a vital role in the establishment of a more sustainable and low carbon industry. However, the increased use of biomass, residues and waste gases as feedstock/raw materials in industry poses a number of challenges that need to be addressed, such as seasonal and fragmented availability, short harvesting windows, environmental challenges, variable availability and/or quality of supply, and presumed competition with animal or human food supply. In addition, it is important to develop highly efficient equipment using novel techniques and evaluate the use of biomass and residues as feedstock for co-firing in industrial processes to detect potential operational problems. Changing markets and making new links in the value chains will be an added challenge in the future production systems based on cross sectorial integration. These challenges have to be overcome in order to allow increased utilisation of biomass residues and waste gases in the industry.

New approaches have demonstrated that small mobile and flexible units with chemical processing and process intensification capabilities could provide several advantages in comparison to fixed facilities, such as operation in a distributed manner and mobility to different locations providing higher flexibility. This could provide convenient business opportunities especially for processes presenting a variable feed supply, fragmented feedstock availability and/or need for mobility to different locations to maximise usage time.

Scope:Projects should develop new processes or improved valorisation approaches that would provide efficient biomass, residue and waste gas conversion (or biomass pre-treatment for further refining) while developing a fully integrated system and the associated equipment for downstream use. These processes should allow an increased utilisation of renewables (where economically and technically favourable relative to other potential applications) as feedstock for the production of chemicals (including intermediates) and/or fuels as part of an integrated approach to optimise resource and energy efficiency. Such processes should be presented with a containerised, flexible and scalable approach allowing for (pre-) processing of biomass, residues and waste gases at locations closer to the supply. The proposed solutions should be able to cope with the seasonal or even daily fluctuations of the renewable source to be used. In this respect the unit should also be able to process feedstock from different sources in order to guarantee the level of supply.

The proposed solutions should provide economically viable alternatives to current practice in biomass processing and demonstrate business feasibility. Moreover, new innovative technologies and approaches are expected to substitute the current fossil fuels by renewables as feedstock. LCA and LCC analysis for the proposed processes is needed in order to prove the sustainability of the solutions. It is desirable to develop and demonstrate a multi-sectorial and replicable methodology for increasing the renewable resources integration in industrial processing. It is expected that high amounts of biomass, residues and waste gases will be further used in energy intensive industries, enhancing the efficiency in the use of these resources. Substantial demonstration activities in conjunction with the development of solution-adapted equipment are expected.

For this topic, proposals should include an outline of the initial exploitation and business plans, which will be developed further in the proposed project.

Wherever possible, proposers could actively seek synergies, including possibilities for funding, with relevant national / regional research and innovation programmes and/or cumulative funding with European Structural and Investment Funds in connection with smart specialisation strategies. For this purpose the tools provided by the Smart Specialization Platform, Eye@RIS3 may be useful[1]. The initial exploitation and business plans will address such synergies and/or additional funding. Exploitation plans, outline financial arrangements and any follow-up will be developed further during the project. The results of these activities as well as the envisaged further activities in this respect should be described in the final report of the project.


Activities expected to focus on Technology Readiness Level 5-7. A significant participation of SMEs with R&D capacities is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 6 and 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

                Economically viable solutions and technologies allowing a reduction in fossil resources intensity of at least 30%, compared to current practices (for already optimal processes the savings could also come from reduction in fossil energy for feedstock transportation). It should lead to increased utilisation of renewables in the industry as feedstock for the production of chemicals (and/or intermediates) and/or fuels as part of an integrated approach to optimise energy efficiency with a proven sustainability, taking into account environmental issues and competition with food. In addition, the solutions are expected to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

                The technologies developed should integrate well in the current industrial landscape providing finished products and/or intermediate and building blocks that could be processed in already existing industries. 

                They could also show a direct or indirect impact on rural areas, arising from the increased use of biomass and residues production locally.

Type of action: Innovation Actions

[1]; the relevant Managing Authorities can be found at