Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: In the trend towards optimising the (cost-)effectiveness and sustainability of the transformation of wood into new value-added products, one of the key challenges is to reduce temperature, pressure and toxicity of the chemical pulping processes. A newly discovered class of separation technologies based on natural Deep Eutectic Solvents (DES), shows potential in terms of decomposing lignocellulosic feedstock at low temperatures and at atmospheric pressure. While the prospects of DES-based processes to improve cost-efficiency and environmental footprint of wood-based products are high, further development is needed with a view to move these still largely unknown technologies closer to industrial application.

Scope: Development of new DES-based pulping technologies to isolate cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose from wood and other lignocellulosic sources, including agricultural residues. Proposals should address the design and development of natural DES for low-temperature (<100°C), atmospheric-pressure, harmful chemicals-free pulping. They should map and select the most appropriate DES families, establishing the processes or combination of processes (dissolving, separation) and their optimal industrial scale to isolate high quality cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. The recyclability of DES needs to be addressed. A life-cycle oriented assessment should be carried out in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed technologies. The feasibility of integrating the developed technologies into the current industrial processing chains should be assessed.

It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of at least EUR 2 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:

·         Achieving technological breakthroughs spurring innovation across cellulose-based sectors.

·         Reducing by at least 40% in process energy intensity as compared to traditional pulping processes.

·         Reducing by 50% of investment costs as compared to current pulping installations, thanks to pressure free layout and simplified chemical recovery.

Strengthening market position of current wood-based products (e.g. paper, board) as well as new high added value applications, like textile and chemical industries.
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