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Systemic approach to Reduce Energy demand and CO2 emissions of processes that transform agroforestry waste into High Added value Products.

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - REHAP (Systemic approach to Reduce Energy demand and CO2 emissions of processesthat transform agroforestry waste into High Added value Products.)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-03-31

Europe's position in the production of biopolymers from biomass and by-products is limited to a few polymers, while the demand for them is among the largest in the world, which means that they have to be imported, mainly from Asia and South America. Surprisingly, Europe has a lot of world leader chemical companies, with a particular strength and great potential in the field of fine chemicals and building blocks. The development of chemicals and materials from lignocellulosic biomass is a particularly important area in terms of research. However, the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into a real chemical platform has still little commercial viability. For instance, several processes have been studied at R&D level, but none have been industrially implemented yet.
The main objective of REHAP is the transformation of agro-forestry residues into new sustainable and eco-efficient derivatives, which comprise diol building blocks, high-performance additives (superplasticizers and flame retardants) and biobased polymeric resins (biophenolics and NIPUs), through innovative cost-effective processes to demonstrate their potential use in several products at an industrial level and their application in sectors like Construction.
The development of bioresins based on lignin/tannins has been demonstrated with a substitution of 50% of phenol obtaining the same performance and better cost. 100% biopolyesterpolyols has been also developed based on BDO and Biodiacids and applied with very good results to PIR foams and PU adhesives showing better performance and slightly higher prize. Processes to obtain intermediates from Bark and Wheat Straw have been implemented and new projects will continue this work to produce these intermediates in industrial scale. This is important for the new value chains created in REHAP. Complete studies of the feedstock availability and the biorefinery simulations, LCA, SLCA and LCC of all the processes compared with fossil based alternatives among optimization of the biorefinery concept, sustainability and economic feasibility by the integral approach using all the sidestreams of the project (Mainly by energy production but also other product like biogas) and the reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions by the improvement of the processes. The scalability of the products has been demonstrated by a DEMO building.
WP1:Identification of the most relevant agroforestry input sources with respect to the European arisings and the biochemical composition Literature and database review concerning the state-of-the-art of agroforestry waste management. Development of a forecasting model for the future arisings of biomass for all NUTS 1 regions in Europe including cost of the residues (Three publications). Analysis results of the selected biomass samples for REHAP (TAPPI, NERL and TGA methods). Predictive Kinetic Models (based on TGA) to determine the fractional weight composition of cellulose-hemicellulose-lignin-tannin in agroforestry biomass (Publication)
WP2:Optimization of the purification processes to obtain lignin, tannins and sugars from softwood bark. Analysis of the fermentability of the 2G sugars. Optimization of the process to obtain bioethanol for the production of lignin rich residues from straw and woody biomass. Development of fractionation/purification of lignins from the PROESA process residue. Study of the hydrolysis of carbohydrates fraction to obtain fermentable sugar stream from the PROESA process residue.
WP3:Preparation of NiPUs based on 2,3-BDO. Modification of tannins and lignins for phenolic resins. Modification of phenols/sugars for the preparation of fire retardants. Preparation of bio-polyesterpolyols from bio raw materials. Modification of commercial lignins by alternative routes to obtain superplasticizers. Production of fermentable sugars from alternative source (Cardboard waste). Optimization of the fermentability of 2nd Generation sugars to obtain building blocks from different biomass residues (poplar, spruce bark, cardboard waste). Revalorization of sludges and cells for energy and biogas production.
WP4:Optimization of biophenolic resin for wooden panels with very good results in MDF and PLYWOOD, bio-polyesterpolyols for PIR foams, PU adhesives with better performance than fossil alternatives and 100% biobased FRs (at lab scale). Developed plasticizers did not reach superplasticizing level.
WP5:Design, construction and validation of multilayer systems based on WP4 products (MDF/PLYWOOD, PIR foam and PUR adhesive). Testing of the mechanical, fire, thermal and biological resistance of the composites. Design and construction of the DEMO building in FORESA’s facilities in Galicia, SPAIN.
WP6:Final LCA, S-LCA and LCCA analysis for REHAP products. Integration plan and resource efficiency analysis.
WP7:Website, three videos, posters, press releases, newsletters, etc. Participation in several conferences and meetings. Organization of two WORKSHOPs and two webinars. Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) for the selected processes of the project. 5 open access publications (+1 in press) and 1 patent application (+1 in preparation).
R1: Extraction and purification of Tannin/sugars from European softwood species (Norway spruce). Patent
R2: Extraction and purification of lignin from the residue of bioethanol production. Publication
R3: BioBDO and polymers based on sugars: Demonstration of the production of BDO from 2G sugars (Agroforestry residues) and demonstrated at semi-industrial scale (1500L).
R4: Biophenolic resins: Results comparable to benchmark using lignin/tannins from soda cooking and 50% partial substitution of phenol. Similar performance and lower cost than fossil alternatives.
R5: Lignin modification for plasticizing of cement and concrete: Plasticizing effect better than lignosulfonates but worse than PCE.
R6: New bioFire retardants based on phenolic and sugar wastes. Patent application
R7: BioPUR foams: NIPUs route gave good results for partial substitution of Isocyanate but failed for a 100% free of isocyanate PUR/PIR. New route of 100% BioPUR/PIR has been developed based on bio-BDO, bio-diacids and bio-isocyanate.
R8: Demonstration of the products performance in different applications: Biofenolic resins in MDF and Plywood, Biopolyesterpolyols in PIR foams and PU adhesives. Validation in DEMO house build with multilayer system fully based on REHAP products.
Identification of the key exploitable results with 3 readies to market results, 10 exploitable results and 7 promising technologies that require more research. Actions after REHAP identified for all the results
Expected IMPACTs:
1.Reduction of fossil-based materials (in thousand tons): Biophenolic resins for wood panels (1,177), Rigid bio-PU insulation (4,675), Adhesives for construction sector (2,000), Butanediol intermediate chemicals (2,000).
2.Reduction of energy use and CO2 emissions (in %): Biophenolic resins for wood panels (30/47), Superplasticizers for cements (145/216), Rigid bio-PU insulation (16/8), Adhesives for construction sector (147/52)
3.Business models and cost calculations for the KER. Lower prices than the fossil alternatives due to the optimization of the processes, the use of waste materials, the revalorization of the sidestreams and the better performance in some cases.
4.Direct new jobs in the involved companies of the project (50) and indirect new jobs due to the activities of the project (200).
Final demonstrator of REHAP. Inside
Logo of the project
Final Demonstrator of REHAP. Outside
Showroom with REHAP products