Creating value from biomass

Biomass is a versatile and widely available source for providing the growing world population with food, chemicals, materials, cosmetics, fuels and other products in a sustainable way. To be able to move towards a fossil-free, sustainable and climate-neutral society, this biomass needs to play a crucial role. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research develops biorefinery technologies that enable us to use biomass ingredients in a sustainable manner and apply these ingredients in the highest possible quality. We want to make a meaningful contribution to a better environment while at the same time taking care of a growing population.

Using all of the feedstock

Biobased resources will form a large part of the future supply of raw materials, replacing fossil resources. Not just to reduce climate change and provide environmentally safe and healthy products, but also because the demand for raw materials is growing rapidly and industries are looking for additional resources to provide improved products with higher quality and different functionalities. That is crucial for a sustainable society, and it is possible. Most value can be drawn from the natural resources when we maintain and use the functionalities which are already present in the plant material. The challenge is to unlock this potential and make it available at the right price, time and quality. However, this will only be sustainable and therefore feasible if this transition goes hand in hand with great care for nature, food supply and a healthy planet. This requires a shift from a linear fossil-based approach to new biobased value chains based on circular principles where all of the feedstock is converted into valuable products. A new set of processes and way of working is required in all the steps of these new value chains. From harvest, conservation and logistics to production processes and consumer acceptance.

Maintaining the natural properties

Together with the industry, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research develops new technologies and know-how to transition from linear, fossil-based to circular, biobased. We build sustainable and cost-effective supply chains and deliver biorefining and production techniques for a wide range of products. The focus is on improving the entire value chain and creating positive impact on product life cycle, CO2 footprint, circularity and cost. We don’t break down or burn valuable fibers and protein structures, but use mild processing techniques to make optimal use of the natural properties. Within our program, we connect and combine the various expertises on biomass pretreatment, fractionation and bioconversion and product formulation with economic and impact evaluations, such as life cycle analysis (LCA). These expertises are deployed for lignocellulosic residues and for residual streams from the agrifood industry. Next to this, we help local agricultural businesses with the transition to nitrogen-poor, circular agriculture. The key strength of Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is that we have all these expertises, know how they interact and how they lead to viable solutions with positive impact on our planet.