Biorefinery for raw material and flexibility AF-SIP-14001

TNO and Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research are forming a cooperative framework in the area of food, nutrition and bio-based research to create a one-stop shop for our partners. Several Strategic Innovation Programmes (SIP’s) are set up to reinforce joint projects and complementary expertise as well as knowledge and facilities between TNO and Food & Bio-based Research. This will give companies of all sizes as well as governmental organisations better access to applied research from both research organisations. In the long run, this cooperation will strengthen the Dutch research infrastructure and improve competitiveness of our industrial partners in worldwide food, nutrition and biobased markets.

Two Strategic Innovation Programmes are effective since 2015:

With these programmes, TNO and Food & Biobased Research are setting up and executing public-private pre-competitive projects that aim to create new knowledge and capabilities within the framework of the Innovation Agenda  of the topsector Agri & Food.
The Strategic Innovation Programmes (SIPs) are a result of the ‘Grand Design’ concept of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The ministry has formulated a need for a uniform planning & control cycle for the Dutch institutes of applied research. A ‘Grand Design agreement’ was signed by the boards of TNO, Wageningen UR and the Ministry of Economic Affairs at the end of 2014 and provides the context for the new programmes.

For a successful transition from a fossil-resources based society towards a sustainable, biomass-based society several key issues need to be addressed. They include availability of sufficient raw materials and flexibility that can be realised in their sourcing and application. Projections show that the problem of food insecurity will escalate due to the increasing food demand (up to 70% more by 2050) on the one hand and climate change combined with a decrease in energy and water availability on the other. Next to this, the upcoming bio-economy will put an increasing claim on the available biomass for non-food applications like chemicals, materials and energy. To tackle these important future challenges the collaborative programme “Biorefinery for raw material availability and flexibility” has been drafted.

The programme will be founded on the ambition to provide technology and value chain integration to:
• Guarantee the sustainable supply of raw materials and the flexibility in their application to realize food security
• Supply biomass-derived raw materials in sufficient quality and quantity to enable the sustainable development of other sectors of the bio-economy (chemistry, materials, energy)

With respect to availability of raw materials the programme focusses on technology development to:

• Enable the use of raw materials for higher-value applications, e.g. proteins from feed to food
• Explore new sources for the sustainable supply of raw materials for food and non-food applications

With respect to raw material flexibility, two research lines will be explored:
• Exploration of the boundaries between food and non-food applications
• Development of application-dedicated food and renewable based non-food products with specifications related to their functional (including nutritional) properties, The approach of co-production of food and non-food intermediates/final products is visualised in the figure below, showing the value chain integration with respect to availability, quality, sustainability and logistics.