Valorisation of lignin and other side-streams to increase efficiency of biorefineries

Author: Nikola Benin


The predominant component of side-streams from lignocellulosic biomass processing is lignin. Other co-products may vary in content according to the plant: crystalline cellulose, complex polymers and dead cells have also high content in streams from the fermentation stage in biorefineries; while soaps, terpenes and sulphur compounds are found in pulp mills’ black liquor (besides lignin). All these components represent, in various degrees, also potential sources of new feedstock for further valorisation.

Demonstrate the techno-economic viability of the efficient valorisation of lignin-rich side-streams from biorefineries or from black liquor streams from the pulp and paper industries. Besides lignin, other streams – such as crystalline cellulose, complex polymers and dead cells from the different stages of biorefineries and soaps, terpenes and sulphur compounds from pulp and paper mills – could be addressed.

In particular, applying the ‘cascading use principle[1]‘ (valorisation of the side-streams) where possible, aiming at realising an integrated, zero-waste biorefinery operation by maximising conversion of different streams available and of the corresponding different materials and compounds. This includes the recovery and recycling of process chemicals, obviating or minimising the need for new input thereof.

Expected Impact:

  • Safety, quality and purity of the (new) products are in line with EU legislation and proven to meet end-market requirements in order to facilitate future market access and commercialisation.
  • Reduction of industrial side-streams routed to disposal as waste.
  • Demonstrated operational- and energy-costs savings as compared to existing processes and technologies.
  • Successful introduction of ‘lignin – to – bio-product’ concepts at semi-commercial scale.
  • Projects under this topic should result in 1 new building block based on biomass of European origin validated at demonstration scale (KPI 4) and/or at least 1 new bio-based material (KPI 5).
  • Contribution to other BBI JU Key Performance Indicators (KPI), specifically:
    • Creation of at least 1 new bio-based value chain (KPI 2) and at least 1 new cooperation project through cross-industry clusters (KPI 3).
    • Lead to new demonstrated consumer products based on bio-based chemicals and materials (KPI 6), or significantly improving the production process of existing ones.
    • Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.
      1.  List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the H2020 Work Programme. Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong &Macau, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).
      2.  Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the H2020 Work Programme with the following exceptions: BBI JU Derogation to H2020 Rules for Participation.



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