Pulp2Value: European project realises new value chains for sugar beet

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is launching a large-scale European project in collaboration with Cosun (coordinating partner) and ten businesses from the Netherlands and abroad to extract more value from sugar beet pulp. After undergoing bio-refinery and other conversion processes, this residue from the common sugar beet, which is rich in cellulose and special carbohydrates, can be deployed in ambitious applications for detergents, personal care products, paints and coatings, composite materials and quality plastics.

Sugar beet pulp is rich in cellulose and special carbohydrates. These can be biorefined and converted into materials that are suitable for use in high-quality applications. This could, perhaps, involve applications in detergents, personal care products, paints and coatings, composite materials and high-quality plastics. This particular European demonstration project is supported by the European Biobased Industries Consortium. Funded by a grant of more than €6 million, the project started on 1 July 2015 and was completed in 2019.

Boosting value creation and sales volume

Jacco van Haveren, programme manager for Biobased Chemicals at Wageningen University & Research says "The goal is to generate substantially greater value from sugar beet pulp, perhaps 20 to 50 times more than today's value. Experience has shown that we are able to capitalise economically on around 65% of the pulp, thanks to the use of biorefining and conversion technologies. What makes this particularly interesting is that it will greatly energise the pulp's value creation and sales volume, thus paving the way to a bright future."

Reducing time-to-market

Gert de Raaff, Director of New Business and member of the Executive Board at Royal Cosun points out that "We have received substantial support from the European Biobased Industries Consortium. This will enable us, together with our partners, to push ahead with the project and to demonstrate its economic and technical feasibility in the upcoming years. The EU's involvement helps to smooth the way for extra investments in both expertise and equipment, thus reducing the time-to-market. This, in turn, will help to ensure the success of newly developed biobased value chains."

Sulphate and ethoxylate-free soaps

Project unravels more of sugar beet pectin's secrets. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research's work in this area has delivered building blocks for the production of sulphate-free and ethoxylate-free soaps. "Further research is needed to bring these particular products to market, but the project as a whole is looking very promising", says project leader Daan van Es. "This raw material is a springboard for what is, potentially, a new generation of soaps. These products will not only be very effective, they will also be mild for the skin."