Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Lignin Biorefinery Approach using Electrochemical Flow

Project description

Converting ubiquitous lignin into value-added chemicals

Lignin is one of the most abundant organic polymers on Earth, exceeded only by cellulose. Its depolymerisation into value-added products would yield great environmental benefits. The EU-funded LIBERATE project aims to convert low-cost lignin feedstock from wood into high-value and sustainable chemicals through an electrochemical process. For this, it will deliver a pilot-scale electrochemical plant to demonstrate lignin conversion into chemicals such as vanillin and mixed phenolic derivatives, currently stemming from fossil energy sources. By developing the electrochemical lignin biorefinery, LIBERATE will help Europe move a step closer to a circular economy model – making the energy industry less dependent on imported oil and reducing its environmental footprint.


Liberate represents a powerhouse consortium, including three major multinational chemical companies, Evonik (EO), Perstorp (PER), Oxiris (OXI), SMEs (Chimar, Megara, NX Filtration, Condias, Enso, Idener and gate to growth), four internationally regarded research and technology organisations (ECN, Fraunhofer, Leitat and Sintef), and European leading universities (University of Mainz and University of Alicante). LIBERATE will overcome the technical developments, pilot line scale-up and commercial exploitation barriers of the next generation of biorefineries. Highly efficient and selective anodic electrochemical oxidation will be applied to the depolymerisation of lignin and the synthesis of propyladipic acid from cyclohexanol to deliver a range of biosustainable feedstocks for drop-in replacements or for superior product performance.
Liberate will deliver a pilot-scale electrochemical plant to demonstrate the commercial opportunities of converting low cost lignin feedstocks in high-value biosustainable chemicals. Liberate will model and physically integrate renewable energy sources to deliver a process that is capable of synthesising chemicals with zero CO2. The renewable energy integration will open up new business models for biorefinery operators to utilise peak renewable energy at discounted rates.
Liberate will deliver the following benefits:
• An electrochemical depolymerisation of kraft lignin to synthesise vanillin with a 7% yield.
• An electrochemical depolymerisation of organoslv lignin to synthesise mixed phenolic derivate oligomers with a yield of > 35%.
• An electrochemical oxidation of biosustainable cyclohexanol to synthesise proyl adipic acid with a yield of up to 80%.
• A biorefinery process capable of accommodating RES fluctuations without loss in efficiency.
• A biorefinery process that exhibits a 95% improvement in the energy efficiency of the process.
• A biorefinery process that is capable of producing 29 x times less CO2.

Call for proposal


See other projects for this call

Sub call



Net EU contribution
€ 1 000 801,00
08225 Terrassa

See on map

Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 000 801,10

Participants (15)