The development of innovative biomass conversion technologies is of major importance in realising the European goal of 16% sustainable energy in 2020. These technologies allow the sustainable use of all the valuable components in biomass. Lignin is a very interesting component of lignocellulose biomass that can be converted into various valuable biobased products using the proper conversion technologies.
In the ligniFAME project Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research will work with industrial partners and another knowledge institute to study the use of lignocellulose resources for the sustainable production of energy (sources), fuel additives, materials and chemicals. It involves the so-called cascading principle: optimising the sustainable use of as many valuable components from biomass for valuable products.
Side streams from waste, agriculture and ethanol production
Within the project, Food & Biobased Research works with lignin-rich sources such as side streams from lignocellulose ethanol production, municipal waste, and other agro-residues. By using the available side streams, it is possible to gain practical experience in their conversion into valuable components that can be deployed for energy (sources), materials and chemicals. Lignin, a side stream that does not compete with food crops, is often seen as a waste product while this valuable biomass component can be used in a wide range of products.
Developing large-scale biorefinery activities
The specific goal of the project is to develop biorefinery activities from processes that are technologically and economically feasible. The consortium partners, which include the companies Progression Industry, ADM, Essent, FeyeCon and SOPREMA as well as knowledge institute ECN, have high expectation from this lignin biorefinery. They see many opportunities for biobased products: more sustainable additives for shipping fuel, valuable bioaromatics, bio-bitumen with possible LCA improvements as well as cost reductions and enhanced sustainability for the co-firing of lignocellulosic biomass in existing energy plants.
Wide range of biobased products
Progression Industry and Food & Biobased Research are coordinating the project and working on the development of technologies to convert lignin into marketable products such as gas, biochar, bioaromatics, fuel additives and bio-asphalt. For this purpose Food & Biobased Research is developing a new catalytic process to depolymerise lignin. Downstream processing activities of the desired product flows are being optimised in cooperation with various partners. Food & Biobased Research is also working with Progression Industry on the specific potential of bioaromatics for fuel additives. With SOPREMA we are looking into lignin fractions for asphalt products, while with Essent the focus is on studying the use of fractions for energy applications. The eventual goal of the project is to initiate an even larger programme in which the achieved results can be further developed. Leveraging on our lignin platform, Food & Biobased Research is taking the lead in the future trajectory of up scaling and optimising technologies together with industrial partners.