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CASCADE Hydrolytic Recovery and Conversion of Suberin in High Pressure Media

Project description

Creating greater value for industrial waste by-products

The transformation of biomass to valuable materials and energy (biomass valorisation) is a key part of the EU’s strategy for transiting to a circular and climate neutral economy by 2050. To realise their biomass potential, industries are increasingly challenged to introduce efficient fractionation systems and develop commercial products. Against this backdrop, the EU-funded SUBLUBE project plans to leverage a fractionation–hydrolysis process to recover pristine suberin from cork by-products. The process will use supercritical water to convert suberin into highly functional building blocks for lubricants. The project's findings will generate valuable knowledge on the catalytic transformation of agro-industrial waste by-products into value-added products in continuous flow microreactors on a large scale.


Biomass valorization through biorefineries is integral towards the transition to a circular and climate neutral economy by 2050, as envisioned in the European Union Circular Economy Action Plan and in support of the European and Spanish Bioeconomy Strategy and the RIS3 Castilla y Leon Regional Strategy. To realize this, two important challenges need to be addressed: an efficient biomass fractionation system and the development of products close to market.
In response to these challenges, the SUBLUBE project aims to recover pristine suberin from cork industry byproducts through a cascaded fractionation-hydrolysis process with supercritical water as reaction media and to convert pristine suberin into highly functionalized biolubricant building block through subcritical water hydrolysis. The research will focus on evaluating the process conditions that would achieve high pristine suberin yields and highly functionalized building blocks in a laboratory scale and pilot scale continuous microreactors. Based from the results obtained, a techno-economic model will be prepared through process modeling and simulation. SUBLUBE is founded upon the integration of applied chemistry, chemical engineering, process fundamentals and materials science as a strategy for forestry products valorization. The findings of this research will benefit the society as a model for scalable biorefineries in continuous microreactors (innovation) that utilizes agro-industrial waste byproducts as resources for the sustainable generation of value added products (pristine suberin, biolubricants). It will lead to additional income streams for the cork processing industry (job creation) while reducing our dependence on vegetable oils and synthetic esters and greenhouse gas emissions. As a whole, this fellowship will support a female foreign researcher in demonstrating ability to work on a project that advances natural product valorization through green and sustainable technologies.


Net EU contribution
€ 172 932,48

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Centro (ES) Castilla y León Valladolid
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 172 932,48