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Integrated Process and Product Design for Sustainable Biorefineries

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - IProPBio (Integrated Process and Product Design for Sustainable Biorefineries)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-12-31

The overall goal of IProPBio is to exchange complementary theoretical and experimental knowledge of research Staff while looking for innovative answers to such important questions. IProPBio is divided in 4 research oriented work packages plus two supporting packages for internal knowledge sharing and results dissemination. Alternative feedstock and high-value products characterization; thermodynamic data analysis and properties prediction; alternative technological flowsheets for economic and eco-compatible conversion of waste biomass into high value products; mass and energy integration studies to reduce wastes and enhance the profitability; life cycle assessment to determine the net contribution of the best designs to environmental pollution, are the main issues approached in the work packages.
IPropBio will significantly impact:
- the competitiveness of EU bioeconomy
- participants’ potential and new carrier perspectives
- exchange and transfer of high-quality multidisciplinary knowledge, advanced expertise, research and innovation between academic and non-academic participants in EU member states and third countries through the dissemination of the results achieved to target groups and the general public.
The impact of this topic on the society is easily understandable considering that bio-based economy in Europe involves 22 million people and turns over roughly 2.4 billion €. The full realization of its huge potential, however, requires expert knowledge and synergy of different competencies that are considered in this project.
The work performed so far constitutes the basis for the second part of the project where economic and environmental impacts will be evaluated.
The most important contributions are summarized as follow:
1. A detailed and in-depth analysis of the Pros and Cons of a range of biomass and biowastes to be used as potential Feedstocks in Biorefineries.
IProPBio beneficiaries come from countries with rich native flora, and the analyses identified biomass and biowastes that can be used as feedstocks in biorefiniries that will produce alternative, cleaner sources of energy and high-added value products for health, wellbeing and welfare use; compounds, which can be used to prevent, reduce and/or help in the treatment of socially significant diseases by generation of knowledge and know-how for their future manufacturing, commercialization and marketing.
2. Advancements in the definition of alternative extraction methods for natural compounds. In particular the possibility of using extraction with supercritical and/or subcritical fluids as a green alternative to organic solvents extraction processes
A one feedstock-multiproduct biorefinery is based on implementing predominantly mild, advanced processes and techniques; Techniques that will allow obtaining from the feedstocks high value added products with a wide spectrum of applications without damaging one or more of the extracts, particularly those that are heat sensitive.
3. Designing new, and extending existing methods for phase equilibria calculations, and optimization of the extraction parameters.
Modelling the phase equilibria of the complex highly non-ideal systems that represent the biomass/biowaste at normal and supercritical conditions, play a pivotal role in the process of design and optimization of process flowsheets.
4. New correlations for the estimation of a selected set of properties of fatty acids derived from biomasses
5. The secondees adopted new methods and techniques not available in their countries, and hence brought back to their host Institutions new expertise and extremely valuable scientific experience.
6. The results obtained were disseminated to the academic community via a number of articles published in prestigious international journals with IF and/or SJR. In addition The First Workshop: Valuable products from residual biomasses Towards a greener society (ProGreS): Biomass selection, characterization and valorization, which took place at the Institute of Chemical Engineering, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences from September 22nd till September 24th. The Workshop was attended by over 30 participants from 10 countries including many ESR. The IProPBio beneficiaries presented as oral and poster communications the results achieved during the first year and a half of the IProPBio project.
Biomass cannot longer be considered as a source for energy production, but a raw material for high added value products. These products are complex not well studied molecules that are in very small concentrations within the biomass types and vary from biomass species.
In this project promising biomass resources have been identified within the geographical distribution of the Consortium. So far the characterization of the biomasses and the thermodynamic properties of some of the promising products has been carried out as well as a methodology has been developed for the systematic identification of promising portfolios of products out of biomass resources. It has been applied to different biomass wastes such as citrics, olives or coffee residues to develop integrated production processes that process biomass waste selecting the products to be obtained. At this stage the processes have been evaluated at conceptual level, meaning that non rigorous models have been used. In the second half of the project, apart from a rigorous process model and optimization of the biorefineries, that requires the detailed thermodynamic of chemicals and mixtures evaluated before, a wider analysis of the impact that these integrated biorefineries have in the European and worldwide arena will be analyzed based on environmental footprint and social criteria developing novel muli-tobjective optimization schemes that will provide with solutions that are a trade-off between the economic profitability of the facilities but also provide emission mitigation, i.e. due to the substitution of the source of those chemicals by a sustainable process, and social benefits.
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