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Electrochemical processes for bio-based monomers and polymers

Develop electrochemical processes to convert bio-based feedstock into targeted monomers and/or polymers.

The scope of this topic includes any bio-based feedstock.

Processes should be able to easily start, stop and resume, so that they can be triggered to consume energy only when available at a negligible price, thereby allowing for inexpensive production. The developed processes should be suitable for upscaling.

Proposals should commit to assessing the environmental impacts of the developed processes or products using LCA methodologies based on available standards, certification, accepted and validated approaches (see also introduction – section 2.2.5 - published in the BBI JU AWP 2018)1

Proposals should also include an economic viability performance check (value chain and market analysis) of the developed products and processes, along with an analysis of social impacts where applicable.

If relevant, proposals should also allow for pre- and co-normative research necessary for developing the needed product quality standards.

The technology readiness level (TRL)2 at the end of the project should be at least 3 for the bio-based value chain in question. Proposals should clearly state the starting TRL, which may be as low as 1 or 2.

Indicative funding:

It is considered that proposals requesting a BBI JU contribution of between EUR 1 million and EUR 2,5 million would allow the specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. However, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

To be eligible for participation a consortium must contain at least one constituent entity of the Bio-based Industry Consortium not eligible for JU funding according to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 623/2014.

1 The LCA may focus on a set of critical issues early on to steer the development process in the right direction. In this case, it is essential that this selection is carefully explained in the proposal in order to allow for expert assessment. See also in the introduction.

2 Technology readiness levels as defined in annex G of the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme:

Electrical energy prices fluctuate greatly, due to the widespread adoption of renewable sources. At peak production times – on sunny summer or windy winter days, for instance – energy can become virtually free. Electrochemical processes are becoming attractive, as they can be integrated into smart grid set-ups to exploit surplus energy and convert bio-based feedstock into chemicals and materials. This, in turn, may lead to considerably less expensive production than conventional routes can offer.

Moreover, smart electrochemical processes have the ability to setting the process conditions more precisely, providing a tool to ‘custom-make’ molecules with, for example, the desired molecular weights or specific functionalities. Depending on the biomass feedstock, the processes can produce various groups of intermediate bio-based platform molecules for direct use or further processing.

The specific challenge of this topic is to exploit surplus electric energy for the inexpensive electrochemical conversion of biomass feedstock and prepare this technology for upscaling.

  • benefit from surplus energy to convert biomass electrochemically into desired molecules for direct use or further processing;
  • reduce the cost of obtaining bio-based monomers and polymers for specific applications compared with state-of-the-art alternatives;
  • reduce the environmental footprint of the total value chain;
  • assist industry to further explore promising technologies to broaden and strengthen the bio-based industries in Europe.

Expected duration: 1 to 4 years.

Type of action: Research and innovation action.

The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 2.3.3. of the BBI JU AWP 2018.