Biorefining allows us to efficiently convert biomass into various components such as natural fibres, polypeptides (proteins), oils & fats, carbohydrates, sugars and lignin. These components can then be applied in a variety of end products. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research works together with its clients to help realise these valuable end products.
Components from biomass can be used in biobased products either directly or after further (biological, thermal or chemical) processing. Examples of biobased products include food & feed, materials and chemicals and pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic applications. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research looks at the best possible use of biomass components based on its expertise in the field of biomass and biorefining.
High-value use of biomass
Ideally, we create biobased products with a minimal loss of raw material (biomass). In addition to limiting such losses, however, it is also important that we realise the most efficient and high-value use of biomass components. Via separation into components, biomass can achieve a higher total economic value than if the raw material is used directly in applications. For instance, separation can allow highly valuable pharmaceutical or chemical ingredients to be isolated. The choice for a specific application of biomass and components is usually a matter of demand. In order to create maximum economic value, we apply the so-called ‘cascading principle’. In addition to the efficiency of the use of biomass, we then also look at the ‘value pyramid’; the most valuable products we can realise from biomass.
Benefits of biobased products
In addition to the efficiency, value and functionality of biomass, we also analyse in a targeted way the benefits of biobased products compared to current products. A biobased product may, for instance, be more sustainable, CO2-neutral, less toxic or lighter and more degradable. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research develops biorefining technologies & concepts and biobased products & applications for different industries. Moreover, we develop techniques for improving processes as well as the properties of specific biobased products, such as biobased plastics. We also carry out sustainability and economic analyses for our clients.
From bio-refining to end products
The biorefining process often produces multiple biomass components from one or more biomass (side) streams. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has ongoing projects to develop different processing, separation and transformation techniques that will efficiently isolate the biomass components with the highest value. These techniques are tested in our facilities by experts in different fields (pretreatment, separation, chemistry, polymer technology). On behalf of our partners – biomass producers as well as buyers of finished products – we look at the required mix of biobased products and related markets. Clients are advised on the most efficient, sustainable and valuable biomass components and their implementation in the market.