Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - SUGAR (Value-added chemicals and hydrogen from biomass)

The goal of this highly successful Marie Curie fellowship has been to create a true economic driver as the ultimate hurdle to overcome in the use of large-scale biological feed-stock for industrial purposes, improving European energy-supply security and to stimulate sustainable European bulk chemical industries. SME AVANTIUM Technologies BV (AVANTIUM) has established a new 'Furanics' research group to develop economical sound bio-alternatives for bulk (petro) chemical materials.

This has involved the following results:
1. Definition of important chains of low-cost raw carbohydrate biomaterial, with sugar as current most promising feed-stock for sucrose, cellulose or fructose feed-stock production;
2. Minimisation of the costs of processes converting biomass into organic chemicals (high selectivities and yields);
3. Definition of the potential of obtained bio chemicals into end-application in term of process costs and end-product performance.

The second step involves AVANTIUM's proposition of a revolution in bio(petro)chemical research. As a unique and renown specialist on heterogenic catalyst processes for the (petro)chemical fine and bulk industry, AVANTIUM has shown proof of principle of the conversion of carbohydrate feed-stock into fine and bulk (petro)chemicals.

The fellows have contributed strategically to the objectives of this Transfer of Knowledge project by:
Filling knowledge gaps of AVANTIUM of C5/C6 chemistry and furanic building blocks and furan polymer end-products.
Pro-actively discovering the opportunities of heterogenic catalyst technology for novel biochemical processing, leading to a revolutionary biorefiney process solution for industrialised value-added fine and bulk chemicals from carbohydrates (sugars), that are validated, integrated and competitive to fossil alternatives.

AVANTIUM develops Furanics, a next-generation chemical building block for the green economy, produced from carbohydrates through chemical catalysis. Furanics are referred to as 'sleeping giants', because of their enormous potential to produce a range of green materials, chemicals and fuels. They had not been commercialised until now due to the lack of an economically viable production route. Using its enhanced experimentation capability, AVANTIUM and the Marie Curie Fellows have found a breakthrough technology for the cost-effective production of Furanics.

AVANTIUM has a dominant intellectual property estate in the production processes and applications of Furanics. As its first objective, the company decided to pursue green materials in the area of plastics, since they represent a short-term, high-value opportunity with an excellent fit with existing, large-scale chemical production plants. The second objective, the use of Furanics as a green fuel, represents an even larger market, although this application requires more time and investment. AVANTIUM will work with knowledge institutes on relevant research fields, and with industrial partners in each market segment to develop the process and applications step by step.

As the next step towards the commercialisation of its Furanics, AVANTIUM is planning to construct and operate a pilot plant. The objective of this pilot plant is twofold. On the one hand, it will run the chemical process on a larger scale, proving the process and preparing it for further scale-up to a demonstration plant. On the other hand, the pilot will produce trial quantities of Furanics to provide market samples so their potential can be tested in various applications.

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