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Assessing the technical and business feasibility of Callose Enriched Plant Biomass as a solution for improving Biorefinery Industry processes and profit margins

Project description

A solution for improving biorefinery processes

Climate change increases the demand for carbon-neutral materials and energy derived from renewable processes. However, growth of the biorefinery industry is hindered by the low profit margin and limited process efficiency. Biomass recalcitrance is considered a major obstacle in the lignocellulosic biomass conversion process – one of the best options as renewable raw material but leading to high saccharification processing costs. The EU-funded APPLICAL project proposes a method that reduces biomass recalcitrance regarding bioconversion into fermentable sugars. With the introduction of 5 % callose in genetically modified poplars, the number of fermentable sugars released during saccharification tests increases without any growth penalty. Decreased raw materials and improved throughput and yield result in added value to biorefineries.


BioBiorefineries are facing a positive economic outlook due to the ever-growing concerns for climate change, which is triggering demand towards carbon neutral materials and energy derived from renewable sources. However, the growth of the industry is hampered by their low profit margins and additional investments and innovations are needed to improve process efficiency.
The key problem in migrating towards green production is the biomass recalcitrance, which is known to be a major bottleneck in the lignocellulosic biomass conversion process. The initial steps common to several biorefinery process pipelines, the extraction and sugar conversion process (saccharification), can account to as much as 40-45% of the process costs. Therefore, biorefineries can achieve extensive economic impact by addressing this part of their process through a simple business development effort.
We recently made a breakthrough and obtained a biomass less recalcitrant to bioconversion into fermentable sugars. Results show that introduction of only 5% Callose in genetically modified poplars led to 90% more fermentable sugars released during saccharification experiments without any growth penalty, a frequent drawback for such innovations. In practice, this proposes added value to biorefineries through decreased raw material intake, improved throughput and improved yield. For instance, bioethanol production could expect a linear throughput increase (in the 50-90% range) with the same material intake. Moreover, the more manageable pretreatment process will also experience improved energy efficiency.
In the PoC we will carry out technical proof-of-concept and commercialisation planning activities to improve the maturity, and bringing our patented innovation closer to the markets with applications ranging from biofuels, advanced materials and bioplastics to specialty chemicals. Our initial goal is to start industrial scale trials in 5 years time and achieve substantial market penetration by 2035.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 51 750,00
00014 Helsingin Yliopisto

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Manner-Suomi Helsinki-Uusimaa Helsinki-Uusimaa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (2)