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

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

"Problem/Issue: 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. 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.
Objectives: The main objective of REHAP is the transformation of agro-forestry residues into new sustainable and eco-efficient derivatives, which comprise building blocks (2,3 and 1,4-BDO), 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.
All the processes, materials and products will be demonstrated at industrial scale and finally will be used for making a prototype of a feasible industrialized constructive system, proof of concept for ""green buildings"" technologies (TRL 7). Sustainability and economic feasibility will be evaluated using LCA, LCC and market analysis. Other objectives of the project are:
•Environmental: Reduction of use of fossil resources(80-100%), energy use in the process industry (30-50%) and reduction in CO2 emissions (25-50%)
•Economics: Cost reduction of biophenolic resins and BDO up to 20% compared to commercial competing materials.
•Social: Creation of almost 400 new Jobs."
WP1: Identification of 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. Publication of two papers entitled “Assessment of agroforestry residue potentials for the bioeconomy in the European Union” and “Spatially explicit forecast of feedstock potentials for second generation bioconversion industry from the EU agricultural sector until the year 2030” in the International Journal of Cleaner Production. Development of a forecasting model for the future arisings of biomass for all NUTS 1 regions in Europe including cost of the residues. Analysis results of the selected biomass samples for REHAP (TAPPI, NERL and TGA methods). Predictive Kinetic Models to determine the fractional weight composition of cellulose-hemicellulose-lignin-tannin in agroforestry biomass (Publication in press)
WP2: Optimization of the purification processes to obtain lignin, tannins and sugars from softwood bark (Patent application). 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. Upscaling of the protocols developed at lab scale. The required materials for WP3 were produced.
WP3: Preparation of NiPUs based on 2,3-BDO produced in WP2. 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 comercial lignins by alternative routes to obtain superplasticizers. Production of fermentable sugars from alternative source (Cardboard waste). Development of an aerobic fermentation process of lignocellulosic sugars obtained in WP2 and a 2,3-BDO recovery procedure from the fermentation broth. Optimization of the fermentability of 2G sugars to obtain 1,4-BDO from different biomass residues.
WP4: Developmnet of products for the selected applications: biophenolic resin for wooden panels (MDF and Plywood), bioplasticizers for cement/concrete, bio-polyesterpolyols for PUR/PIR foams and PU adhesives and Fire retardants for improvement of the fire reaction performance of the targeted products. These studies will be completed in December 2019.
WP6: Identification of the processes on which the E-LCA, the LCCA and the resource efficiency analyses will be focused. Preparation of the block flow diagrams of the targeted processes. Market analysis of the main products developed in the project. LCA of the benchmark products.
WP7: Creation of the Website ( and video with the project idea. Design of elements for project branding and development of printed materials. Participation in several conferences and meetings (EUBCE, WCCE10, ECAB4, Biotech 2017, ICBBM17, LCM 2017&2019, NWBC 2018, IFAT 2018, EURO conference 2019, Marca 2019, 13th European Bioplastics Conference. Organization of the 1st WORKSHOP of the project (Augsburg, Sep 2018). Production of several press releases, newsletters, etc. Environmental Technology Verification for the selected processes of the project.
Expected results and progress beyond state of the art:
Extraction and purification of Tannin/sugars: REHAP has optimized and up-scaled the process to obtain Tannins from European softwood species (Norway spruce). Application for patent.
Extraction and purification of lignin from the hydrolysis residue: The process to obtain pure lignin from the residue has been developed by Tecnalia and scaled-up (1Tn) by BBEPP. Publication in press
Bio2,3-BDO/1,4-BDO and polymers based on sugars: Demonstration of the production of 1,4-BDO and 2,3-BDO from 2G sugars. Fermentability has been demonstrated at lab scale and the work is ongoing for the up-scaling (1500-3000L).
Biophenolic resins: Results comparable to benchmark using lignin/tannins from soda cooking and 50-100% substitution of phenol.
Lignin based plasticizer for concrete: three protocols for modification of lignin developed at lab scale and materials produced at pilot scale.
Fire performance of biowaste derivatives: New method for the modification/purification of phenolic and sugars to obtain phosphorylated materials has been developed. Lignin-FR has been produced to validate the results in WP4.
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 1,4 and 2,3 BDO.
Expected IMPACTs:
1. Reduction of fossil-based materials (in thousand tons): Biophenolic resins for wood panels (1,177), Superplasticizers for cements (500), Rigid bio-PU insulation (4,675), Adhesives for construction sector (2,000), Butanediol intermediate chemical (>2,000).
2. Reduction of energy use and CO2 emissions (in %): Biophenolic resins for wood panels (40/50), Superplasticizers for cements (30/50), Rigid bio-PU insulation (50/25), Adhesives for construction sector (50/25), Butanediol intermediate chemical (30/50).
3. Demonstration of the economic viability of the developed processes and products: Cost analysis for processes and products is ongoing.
4. Direct new jobs in the involved companies of the project (70) and indirect new jobs due to the activities of the project (>300).
Logo of the project