“The project is focused on the further development of an interregional campus eco-system and accompanying key-infrastructure for the conversion of biomass residues to crude lignin oil (CLO) and CLO derived polyurethane and phenol.”
A Dutch consortium led by biotechnology company Vertoro has been granted €1.2 million to investigate the potential of crude lignin oil as a platform for sustainable chemicals and materials.
The €2.9 million project called ‘Doing more with lignin’ officially started 1 October 2019 and is being co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Provinces of Limburg and Brabant in the context of the Operation Program South Netherlands (OPZuid).
A switch from fossil-based to renewable raw materials is necessary to reduce the carbon footprint of the Dutch chemical sector, Vertoro said in a statement. It added: “Bioresidues play an important role in this transition as an emerging feedstock for chemicals and materials.”
According to Vertoro, the ‘Doing more with lignin’ project sets out to contribute to this goal by setting up a full value chain at pilot scale for lignin-based materials (polyurethane) and chemicals (phenol). Lignin – obtained from biomass – seems to be a very interesting residue as it is a low-cost and abundant renewable raw material.
The ‘Doing more with lignin’ project will utilise existing infrastructure for bio-based chemistry at three locations in the south of the Netherlands: Brightlands Chemelot Campus Geleen, Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo and Green Chemistry Campus Bergen op Zoom. The project is focused on the further development of an interregional campus eco-system and accompanying key-infrastructure for the conversion of biomass residues to crude lignin oil (CLO) and CLO derived polyurethane and phenol.
The consortium is hosting scientists and businesses, both cross-campus and cross-borders. Waste management company Attero cooperates with the Bio Treat Center from the Venlo campus to source non-edible biomass residues and process these to a dry, lignin-rich powder.
Start-up Vertoro and the Chemelot Institute for Science & Technology (InSciTe) will then convert the powder into crude lignin oil (CLO) and CLO-derived phenol in a newly provided InSciTe installation at the Brightlands multipurpose pilot plant in Geleen.
The consortium is led by Vertoro, a start-up which produces a bio-based crude oil from non-edible biomass, as well as oil-derived materials, chemicals and fuels. The company evolved from research projects within Chemelot InSciTe with participation of TU Eindhoven, Maastricht University and DSM. At this very moment, Chemelot InSciTe is hosting and facilitating 11 research and development projects.