IMG-20190323-WA0005

AppliSurfExecution 

Screening the Application potential of a yeast-based bioSURFactant portfolio

Surfactants are performance molecules that intervene in nearly every product and aspect of human daily life with a global turnover of $ 31 billion in 2016. Despite the efforts to move towards a bio-based economy, only 4 % of the surfactant market is 100 % bio-based (e.g. APGs and MESs). An even smaller part (<0.1 %) of the market is not only 100 % bio-based, but also produced through biological processes, such as microbial, plant-based and/or enzymatic processes. Although a lot of companies are striving towards such sustainable solutions, current limitations blocking valorisation of such technologies can be mainly defined as 1. higher production costs and 2. limited structural variability and thus a lack of physicochemical (and biological) properties.

In AppliSurf a combination of genetic modification, fermentation development/optimization and green chemistry will be applied to enable commercial production at an acceptable cost of an innovative and broad portfolio of biosurfactant structures. The unique properties of these ‘new-to-market’ biosurfactants will be identified by high throughput screening for industrially relevant properties (foaming, emulsification, wetting, gelling, antimicrobial properties, etc.). Subsequent structure-function modeling of this family of compounds will enable the prediction of the properties of compounds not included in the screen. The latter will maximize the output of the project, also after the projects’ end. Scale-up of the optimized production processes will generate samples for in-house evaluation by the interested industrial members of the user group.

JOIN the Industry User Group of this project

The project partners are looking for companies that wish to be involved in the user group of this VIS project. The user group is open to all interested companies, including companies established outside the Flemish region. Interested companies can contact Catalisti (info@catalisti.be)

Project type: VIS
Approved on: 01/10/2017
Duration: August 2018 – July 2022
Total project budget: EUR 624.827
Subsidy: EUR 499.853
Partners:     

 

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BAFTAExecution 

Bio-Aromatics Feedstock and Technology Assessment

General purpose:

Due to lignin’s wide availability, its aromatic structure, as well as the variety of potential modifications offered by its chemical structure, many studies have shown that the real commercial opportunity offered by lignin lies in its valorization as a renewable feedstock of aromatics for the chemical industry. This renewed interest in lignin has stimulated research for the development of an economically viable lignin conversion route into high-added value bio-aromatics as phenol and phenol derivatives.

The intrinsic properties of lignin, the variability of the resource, heterogeneous and polydisperse molar masses and hype-branched structures have, until now, hindered technological and commercial developments. While technology for isolating lignin from biomass is no longer the main obstacle for effective valorization, extensive research is currently being undertaken globally to propose innovative concepts of biorefinery based on disruptive processing/purification technologies.

The objective of the current BAFTA project is to initiate the first steps in closing the virtual “valley of death” between research (knowledge institutes/universities) and industrial scale, thereby focusing on the general aim of the transition towards a biobased chemical industry in Flanders using lignocellulosic feedstock. The target group of companies that will benefit from this project are found throughout the value chain of bio-aromatics, from paper, wood, and waste treatment companies as a primary/secondary source for feedstock, over producers of polymers or fine-chemicals based on phenolic compounds, to formulators in the area of adhesives, UV-stabilizers, dyes, inks, coatings.

Innovation goal:

The main goals of this project are fivefold. First, a technology mapping for the conversion of lignin and wood biomass into useful chemical building blocks will be done. Secondly, a feedstock overview will be worked out both quantitative and qualitative for three different types, being virgin wood, waste wood and lignin. Another goal is creating a clear overview of the IP landscape and freedom-to-operate for conversion technologies of lignin and wood biomass. This will lead to the selection of 2 most promising technologies per feedstock (lignin and wood) based on a decision support framework. A detailed analysis of the two selected technologies per feedstock and recommendations for future research and follow-up projects will be provided. The last goals is the sampling of 4 different technologies at kg-scale and characterization of obtained samples on both stability and reproducibility.

Project type: VIS
Approved on: 05/12/2017
Duration: 01/01/2018 – 31/05/2019
Total project budget: EUR 199.945
Subsidy: EUR 159.956
Partners: KULEUVEN_CMYK_LOGO VITO logo blends
IMG-20190323-WA0005

SPICYExecution 

Publications

Sugar-based chemicals and Polymers through Innovative Chemocatalysis and engineered Yeast

Flanders is ideally suited to play a leading role in the shift towards a bio-based economy for a number of reasons. First of all, there is a long-standing tradition of biomass (sugar beets, wheat) conversion into food ingredients (sugars, organic acids, alcoholic beverages). On top of that, Flanders has a high level of education in both chemical and agricultural technology leading to a strong expertise in collecting, sorting and processing of biomass (waste) towards high value products. Finally, Flanders is also ideally located at the middle of the Antwerp-Rotterdam-Rhine-Ruhr Area (ARRRA), Europe’s largest petrochemical cluster, number one in the world when it comes to sales of chemicals and plastics per capita, and the main (production) location of more than half of the world’s top 20 chemical companies.

Cancellation of the EU Sugar quota as off October 1th 2017 will have important consequences for the European sugar producers, such as evolution of sugar prices towards prices on the global market. Together with the disappearance of the export limitations, this will lead to new opportunities for sugar as feedstock for production of chemicals and materials. Market analysts also expect an increase of EU sucrose and glucose syrup production.

The main aim of SPICY is to provide chemical industry with new or optimized processes to convert sugars into added value compounds, i.e. both drop-ins and novel biobased chemicals. (see figure below) Two complementary lines are hereto developed in parallel, one focusing on biotechnology based on improved yeast-strains and one based on chemocatalytic routes. Both will aspire to meet industrial standards of productivity, titer, yield and selectivity, to safeguard potential economic benefit and future industrial valorisation. Most of the targeted platform chemicals are (potential) monomers for biobased plastics, hence, a second aim of SPICY is to deliver proof-of-concept of their usefulness by targeting novel and functional polymeric materials, typically not found in the current oil-based value chain.

This project has the ambition to strengthen the position of Flanders in terms of research into biobased processes and materials. The relevance of this cluster SBO project is further emphasized by an industrial advisory board, who are eager to implement the results and create economic valorisation. Current members of the advisory board include: 3M, Allnex, Beaulieu, Cargill, Eastman, EOC, Galactic, GF Biochemicals, GlobalYeast, INEOS Styrolution, Proviron, Solvay, Tereos and Tiense Suiker.

Project type: cSBO
Approved on:  14/12/2017
Duration: 01/02/2018 – 31/01/2022
Total project budget: EUR 2.526.011
Subsidy: EUR 2.526.011
Partners:  VITO logo blends
 

Advisory Board:

 

 

IMG-20190323-WA0005

SweetEstExecution 

Innovative production and use of sugar esters

context
This project focuses on the production and use of sugar esters. Sugar (fatty acid) esters are esters obtained by reacting a sugar with an (fatty) acid. Sugar esters are non-ionic surfactants which generally have very good emulsifying, stabilising or conditioning effects. Moreover, they are readily biodegradable, non-toxic, non-skin irritant, odorless, tasteless and give normal food products after digestion. For these reasons, they are used in many different applications and products, such as pharmaceuticals, detergents, cosmetics, and in the agri-food industry. There are roughly two methods to synthesize sugar esters. On the one hand, sugar esters can be obtained by chemical esterification, generally at high(er) temperatures in the presence of an alkaline catalyst. On the other hand, sugar esters can also be produced enzymatically at more moderate conditions in an organic solvent using lipases or proteases (and subtilisin).

Innovation goal
The main goals and challenges of this project are 1) to identify which chemical identities (sugar composition, fatty acid chain length and degree of saturation, hydrophobicity, degree of esterification, etc.) give the desired and most performant biological functionality/activity, 2) how to produce (and purify) the most relevant sugar esters efficiently and uniquely, 3) how to formulate and emulsify them for the desired end applications, and 4) to test the biological activity of most relevant sugar esters ‘in vitro’ and ‘in vivo’. In first instance, lab-scale production will be pursued, after which (in second instance) production on kg-scale can be pursued if lab-scale production turns out to be technically (and economically) feasible. In the first two years of the project, lab-scale production and ‘in vitro’ testing of relevant sugar esters is targeted.

Project type: ICON
Approved on: 13/12/2017
Duration: 01/03/2018 – 28/02/2021
Total project budget: EUR 1.267.196
Subsidy: EUR 1.039.558
Partners:
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ValBranExecution 

Valorisation of wheat bran into surfactant molecules

The main objective is to develop biotechnological and green chemistry pathways for the production of high added-value surfactant molecules with low environmental impact. It also aims at strengthening the cross-border cooperation between 9 partners of the concerned regions in the bio-economy sector. The approach consists of developing several laboratory-scale processes and the selection of most promising process for pilot-scale transfer. This will eventually be followed by economic and environmental analysis of the developed process(es).

    • Targeted applications: detergency, cosmetics, phytosanitary agents, food additives.
    • Target audiences: SMEs, industries, agricultural sector, scientists, students, consumers.
The partners:

In Champagne Ardenne and in Picardie : Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, IAR (Industries des Agro-Ressources).

In Wallonia: University of Luik, Valbiom and Greenwin.

In Flanders: VITO, Inagro and Catalisti.

Press Release: Communiqué – ValBran – EN

Project type: INTERREG
Duration: January 2017 – December 2020
Total project budget: EUR 1.745.826
Subsidy: EUR 872.913
Website: https://www.valbran.eu/en/
Partners:

 

IMG-20190323-WA0005

ATOLExecution 

Advanced Tailored OLigosaccharides (ATOL)

Introduction
This project focuses on the production and use of tailored oligosaccharides. Depending on their structure, oligosaccharides are known for their interesting bio-active properties such as prebiotic activity, anti-oxidant, anti-hypertensive, anticoagulant agent, plant elicitors, … They can be used in food industry (stabilizer, thickener), pharmaceuticals (absorbing & gelling agent, excipient), medical devices, personal care industry (creams, lotions), cardboard and paper industries. Additionally, oligosaccharides can be grafted onto surfaces or used as tunable polar structure in biological, biodegradable and/or biocompatible dispersants.
The current industrial partners will focus their efforts on the development of feed additives and dispersants.

Goal
The main objective of the ATOL proposal is to generate the knowledge base for developing new pectin derived functional ingredients that can be applied to improve animal and human health and can be used as building blocks for creating ingredients with techno-(bio)functional properties. The two specific objectives are to create new insights in process-structure-function relations and to develop economically viable prototype processes and products.

 

Project type: ICON
Approved on: 10/09/2017
Duration: 01/07/2018 – 30/06/2021
Total project budget: EUR 1.153.988
Subsidy: EUR 947.717
Partners:         VITO logo blends
IMG-20190323-WA0005

ARBOREFExecution 

Refining of wood to aromatics

While the conversion of cellulose and hemicellulose to fuels and chemicals has already been extensively studied, the conversion technology for lignine valorsization is developed significantly less. This evolution is mainly due to the structural complexity and heterogeneity of this aromatic biopolymer. Both the pulp and paper industry, as in the growing bio-ethanol production, the lignin residual is currently mainly used as low-value energy source.
Publications and patents concerning lignine conversion are mainly focused on the production of biofuels and oxygen-free hydrocarbons. This pioneering work offers interesting opportunities, but there is a huge competition in those markets from other biomass types and petrochemicals. The discovery of shale gas and oil complicates the justification to generate fuels from biomass. In addition, biomass has a problem of scale, which makes that future bio-refineries will/can not provide mega ton production of chemicals, so that a clear choice must be made for the production of a handful of (valuable) chemicals in stead of a very wide range of products. For this reason, building blocks for polymers are to be preferred.
While already a lot of building blocks are produced from renewable resources, sustainable production of molecules with aromatic structure is still very challenging. This SBO therefore intends to propose a bio-refinery for aromatics, describing chemical routes for the production of some essential aromatics from renewable raw materials such as wood and grasses.

Central to the project is a recently developed KU Leuven technology, which converts wood into high yields of mono-phenols (from lignin), and a fixed (hemi) cellulose pulp (1). Useful aromatics will be produced from both fractions in this project. On the one hand, the phenols are reduced to building blocks that can be used in the polyurethane, polyester, polyamide, polycarbonate and phenolresin industry. On the other hand, the sugar pulp is also used for the production of aromatics such as benzene, styrene, and terephthalic acid. The ultimate ambition is to set up a biorefinery, which produces aromatics from timber with 90% carbon efficiency.

The multidisciplinary project comes from the context of FISCH, will be conducted at four Flemish universities and works around these basic issues and challenges:

  • What is the ideal raw material (plant species) for bio-aromatics synthesis? Understanding the structure of the plant components and their relative proportions in the cell wall in relation to the convertibility of the plant species is very important (Prof. Wout Boerjan, UGent – VIB expertise).
  • How can we best address the separation of different chemicals, that result from the conversion technology from KULeuven? (Prof. Ludo Diels, VITO expertise).
  • How convertible is the sugar pulp fraction in yeast fermentation processes and chemical catalysis and thermal processes to aromatic building blocks for the chemical industry? (Prof. Johan Thevelein, KULeuven-VIB, Prof. Bert Sels KULeuven and Prof. Kevin Van Geem, UGent expertise)
  • What are the most interesting synthetic routes from the lignin fraction, which allow both synthesis of existing chemicals such as phenol, but also new chemicals for polymer and fine chemical applications? (Prof. Bert Sels, KULeuven and Prof. Bert Maes, UA expertise).

(1) Van den Bosch et al. Reductive lignocellulose fractionation into soluble lignin-derived phenolic mono- and dimers and processable carbohydrate pulp Energy Environ. Sci., 2015, DOI: 10.1039/C5EE00204D

Project information
Project type: SBO
Approved on: 18/12/2014
Duration: 01/04/2015 – 31/03/2019
Total project budget: EUR 2.999.555
Subsidy: EUR 2.999.555
Partners: kuleuven logo_UA_hor_kl_0 associatie UGent VIB VITO logo blends
IMG-20190323-WA0005

MAIAExection 

Manufacturing of Advanced & Innovative bio-Aromatics

During strategic meetings between FISCH and the Flemish universities and knowledge institutes, the theme ‘bio-aromatics’ was recognized as strategically important for Flanders. Several pathways towards the production of bio-aromatics were defined and resulted amongst others in the MAIA concept. The overall goal of MAIA is to fully utilize the natural functionality of biomolecules by catalytically converting preferably waste wood and flax shives into solubilized proto-lignin fractions and a solid (hemi-)cellulose pulp with a main focus on the production of aromatic molecules with a maximized amount of (hydroxyl) functionalities and a (hemi-)cellulose fraction suitable for further processing into paper or functional sugars. This altered scheme for the biorefinery of wood, compared to existing paper mills, intends to maintain the reactivity of the derived molecules by producing a limited variety of bio-aromatic compounds. In this project the waste wood and flax shive refinery will be fine-tuned in function of several selected applications represented by 5 industrial partners, such as dispersion agents and emulsifiers, resins for ink, foundry, refractory and wood modification, wood adhesives, UV-stabilizers and flavours.

Project type: ICON
Approved on: 18/06/2015
Duration: 01/09/2015 – 31/08/2017
Total project budget: EUR 937.901
Subsidy: EUR 765.006
Partners: chemstream Beaulieu_main_RGB_50mm cobalin lawter Sita TransFurans Chemicals
KULEUVEN_CMYK_LOGO VITO logo blends
IMG-20190323-WA0005

BIOCAPPSCompleted 

Biogenic catalysts for air purification and sustainable materials

Goal

Through this project, TomAlgae, Genano Benelux/Gevoc and Fibreuse would like to develop diatom microalgae for customized silica based catalysts applied in air purification and sustainablematerialsby means of a sustainable bottom-up self-assembly process. The project includes the
cultivation of diatoms and their separationinto biomass and silica frustule towards applications in air purification and biobased material development.

Framework

Background
Diatoms are an extremely diverse group of unicellular algae that self-assemble soluble silicon (Si(OH)4) into a porous, intricate siliceous cell wall, called frustule. Diatom frustules possess a unique combination of physical and chemical properties (chemical inertness, high mechanical strength, large surface area, low density, good porosity and highly ordered features from nano to micro scale) making diatom frustules highly promising for use in applications such as light harvesting, chromatography, (photo)catalysis, drug delivery, photonics, biosensors and adsorption. The diatom frustules are formed under ambient conditions and consist of hydrated silica with specific 3D morphologies and micro-, meso or macroporosity. A remarkable characteristic of diatoms is their ability to bioaccumulate soluble titanium out of cell culture medium and incorporates this into the 3D-nano-architecture of the frustule. These natural biosilica-titania materials have excellent properties for catalytic purposes like air purification. Additionally, bioaccumulation of other elements in the frustule as well as the use of pure frustules has great potential as sustainable materials. This project focuses on the valorisation of both the biomass and the frustule portion aiming at a full cradle-to-cradle approach.

Impact
This project will result in two valorisation pathways of diatom frustules. On the one hand an optimized bio-template production process for mesoporous silica-titania catalysts at Tomalgae will lead to an efficient, sustainable, economically and ecologically viable air purification process tested by Genano Benelux/Gevoc. On the other hand Fibreuze can use the optimized silica production process at Tomalgae for the development of biobased materials.

This project aligns with our Renewable Chemicals program . It proposes studying, developing and optimizing a sustainable, biogenic production route for the synthesis of catalysts for air purification that is scalable from lab level to industrial level. This project also proposes to exploit microalgae, a new biomass source.

Project information
Project type: ICON
Approved on: 19/11/2015
Duration: 01/01/2016 – 31/12/2017
Total project budget: EUR 597.554
Subsidy: EUR 488.456
Partners:          logo_UA_hor_kl_0