Biomass contains a multitude of components (including cellulose, sugars, fatty acids and proteins) that can be used as a raw material for chemicals and materials. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is able to convert the renewable raw material into high-quality chemicals and materials due to its specific expertise in the field of chemical conversion.
Compared to fossil raw materials such as petroleum, the renewable raw material biomass contains many more functional groups including alcohols, aldehydes and amines. As a result biomass components are often less stable at higher temperatures, which is unfavourable for application in products such as sustainable plastics. This can be corrected by reducing the number of unwanted functional groups by means of catalytic oxidation or hydrogenation.
New processes for biomass components
Due to the major differences in chemical composition, it is often impossible to directly apply existing chemical processes, designed for fossil raw materials, to biomass. Biomass components such as sugars and proteins, for example, cannot resist high temperatures. Nor can they be separated by means of distillation. In addition, many of the current industrial catalysts are not suitable for applications with sugars, for instance.
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has extensive experience in dealing with renewable raw materials and developing new processes specifically designed for biomass components. We work both with industrial clients and with leading technological bodies such as the Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI). We are also involved in various research programmes, including the Biobased Performance Materials (BPM) programme, CatchBio, TASC and the BE-Basic programme.
Combination of various types of expertise
Developing new, sustainable chemical processes for the conversion of (complex) biomass components into high-quality chemicals is a challenge. With the right combinations of various types of expertise, such as analytic chemistry, organic chemistry, catalysis and separation technology, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is able to meet these challenges. We have the latest synthesis equipment available, such as high pressure reactors, enabling us to develop industrially realistic new chemical processes for biomass on behalf of our clients.