Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: The transformation of chemical pulp and paper mills into advanced biorefineries involves maximisation of the value derived from their cellulose main streams as well as their lignin-containing side streams by converting them into new and higher added value products. This in turn improves resource- and cost-effectiveness of their operations. Two important strategies in this endeavour are (i) the conversion of cellulose streams into innovative light weight structures for packaging and other applications (e.g. new concepts include foam-formed cellulose fibre based structures); (ii) the isolation of lignin from cooking spent liquors and its further conversion into value-added products.

Scope: Demonstration of the techno-economic viability of the production of at least two product ranges: one based on isolation and application of lignin and one based on the production and application of lightweight foam-formed cellulose. Proposals should demonstrate the feasibility of the different process stages of the manufacturing process. They should also specifically address the technological challenges related to: (i) for cellulose-products in particular wet pressing and drying of foam formed web and (ii) for lignin products in particular the separation of a constant quality lignin stream from black liquor, solving the problem of Na2SO4-emission. Developed products should match application requirements in terms of functional properties. For the case of cellulose-based lightweight structures applications include, among others, packaging solutions for food as well as high value products (e.g. electronics packaging, papers, construction and car sectors), while for lignin streams applications include e.g. fibres, glues, composite materials, or aromatic chemicals. A life-cycle assessment should be carried out in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed technologies within the entire value chain. The feasibility of integrating the developed approaches into existing industrial processing chains should be assessed while the involvement of end-users should be considered. Proposals will consider standardisation related activities expected to facilitate the market uptake of the developed bioproducts.

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

·         Demonstrating of cellulose based light weight structures exhibiting high strength, matching the performance of competing conventional products, but with at least a 20% reduction in energy and raw material consumption.

·         Demonstrating of lignin separation processes enabling on one side the elimination of Na2SO4 emissions and on the other side  production of bioproducts having a value of at least 10 times the current value of black liquor when burned for energy.

·         Opening up new applications and markets and increase the competitiveness of the European pulp, board and paper making industries, additionally showing high potential in terms of job creation in rural areas, moreover showing high potential for replicability in Europe.

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