Bizidee Awards 2019


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
Bizidee Awards 2019


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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:



Bizidee Awards 2019


Innovative production and use of sugar esters

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
Bizidee Awards 2019


Alternatives to chemical treatment techniques for cooling towers

In general, there are three major issues an industrial cooling water system may encounter: corrosion, deposition/scaling, and microbial growth. Because these problems can have a direct, negative impact on the value of the entire process, a wide range of cooling water chemicals is used to provide protection against these cooling system challenges. These cooling water chemicals, however, might pose an environmental burden when the cooling water is discharged in surface water. Catalisti is initiating a collective research project on alternatives to chemical treatment techniques for cooling towers to demonstrate and benchmark available technologies for biocide-free treatment of cooling water (as a direct alternative of liquid sodium hypochorite, i.e. bleach). In addition, apart from biocide-free treatment, alternative corrosion chemicals can also be investigated (depending of the interest that is expressed by the participating companies).

If your company is interested in this project, please send an email to Luc Van Ginneken (

Bizidee Awards 2019


Upgrading steel mill off gas to caproic acid and derivatives using anaerobic technology

One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is the drastic reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the atmosphere to minimize/mitigate the impact of global climate change. The European Union is taking up a leading role by imposing stringent emission regulations to all member states and industries. The European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) forms the basis of the EU’s policy to combat climate change, and requires industries in Europe to decrease their GHG emissions year by year, to reach a 43% lower emission level in 2030, compared to 2005. A crucial aspect to achieve the emission reduction is the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, in which the emission of CO2 to the atmosphere is avoided.  

In this context, the possibility to capture CO2 at point sources, which account for 45% of the emissions in Europe, and transforming it into added-value products, is gaining attention. The steel industry sector is one of the largest GHG contributors. In their strive for GHG emission reduction, strategies such as improvements in energy efficiency, resource recycling, utilization and recovery have already been implemented, but further emission reduction can only be achieved by capturing CO2 emissions. Valorisation of CO2 into chemical building blocks is possible through biological or chemical processes. Biotechnology is in particular a very interesting way to valorise these waste gases due to their low energy requirements and mild reaction conditions. Traditional disadvantages of biotechnology, such as low yields, low substrate affinity and low selectivity have been overcome in recent years.  

ArcelorMittal is exploring the use of syngas fermentation technology as part of the CO2 emission reduction strategy, with pilot projects at the plant in Gent. New fermentation technologies of industrial gases have been tested at pilot scale and are ready for scale up. Many of them are focussing on the fuel market to take off their fermentation products, and are facing a low revenue from the end products, which sometimes require an energy-intensive distillation process to meet the quality standards. The CAPRA-technology  is offering an alternative to avoid this expensive distillation, and  turns the fermentation products into a high value chemical.  

The composition of syngas fermentation broth, a dilute mixture of ethanol and acetic acid, with a high ethanol/acetic acid ratio, makes it an ideal substrate for further biological upgrading through anaerobic conversions. Ethanol/acetic acid mixtures can be transformed to medium-chain carboxylic acids by biological chain elongation, resulting in a bio-oil with higher value (more than double) compared to fuel. This bio-oil, composed mainly of caproic and caprylic acid, readily phase-separates, circumventing energy-intensive distillation, and facilitating downstream processing of the final product. The bio-oil can be further processed in the chemical industry, where sources of caproic and caprylic acid are rare, while interest is growing.  

As of today, the feasibility of converting syngas effluents to C6-C8-rich oils has been proven through a limited number of studies and solely at lab-scale. To pave the road for the development of a process to upgrade syngas fermentation effluent via biological chain elongation, a number of research questions and challenges need to be addressed. Also, little is known about the chemical conversion routes to produce high-value, marketable products from the generated bio-oil. Furthermore, the optimal approach to assess the sustainability and profitability of new processes in the bio-economy is lacking.  

The CAPRA project brings together industrial and academic partners with the required expertise to solve these research challenges: ArcelorMittal, OWS, Proviron, CMET (Ghent University), EnVOC (Ghent University) and VITO. The CAPRA project will:  

  • Assess the critical operational parameters of the biological chain elongation process to determine 1) the best product recovery system; 2) the required nutrient additions for the chain elongation process; and 3) the optimal operational conditions (CMET, OWS);
  • Scale-up the chain elongation process to lab-pilot level, to upgrade real syngas fermentation effluent to a medium-chain carboxylic acid bio-oil at the kilogram scale, in a continuous process (OWS, CMET, ArcelorMittal);
  • Transform the produced bio-oil into high-quality added-value products for different applications such as plasticisers (Proviron); 
  • Evaluate the process value chain based on its sustainability and profitability, using newly developed tools (EnVOC, VITO, OWS; with input from ArcelorMittal, CMET, Proviron). 

The research carried out within CAPRA will bring the valorisation of syngas fermentation products well beyond the state-of-the-art, delivering to the steel industry a technology to capture CO2 into added-value products. For instance, the coupling of the CAPRA process to a syngas fermenter converting the off-gas of AM Gent would result in the production of 35,000 tonne caproic acid oil per year, showing the high potential of the CAPRA value chain. Also, CAPRA develops a new biotechnological platform that can be translated to other industrial sectors, such as waste management. This has the potential to generate employment and strengthen the role of Flanders as a leading region in the bio-economy.   

Project type: ICON
Approved on: 26/10/2017
Duration: 01/01/2018 – 31/12/2020
Total project budget: EUR 1.023.079
Subsidy: EUR 521.334
Partners:  VITO logo blends
Bizidee Awards 2019


Sustainable membrane technology-based solutions for solvent-rich wastewater treatment

Today, huge amounts of waste water from chemical/pharmaceutical companies is transported for incineration at specialised facilities, even though these companies have large on-site waste water treatment plants. Companies as Janssen and Omnichem thus have to treat in this way several 1000s of tons per year per factory. Currently, biodegradation of these streams via conventional waste water treatment is excluded, since these waste water contain (1) Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API’s), (2) other ecotoxic substances, (3) too large volumes of solvent and/or salts, and/or (4) traces of metals such, as Zinc or Palladium as remainders of homogeneous catalysts.  This forced external waste water incineration represents not only a high financial cost, but also a detrimental environmental impact.

Membrane technology is world-wide considered as a very powerful method to treat different types of waste water. However, for the treatment of the challenging, recalcitrant, salt- and solvent-rich waste waters of this project, high-performance nanofiltration membranes with sufficient solvent-resistance and/or extreme pH stability will be required. Although during the last two decades quite some research effort has taken place in this field, few applications have so far found their way to industrial implementation. This can generally be ascribed to the novelty of the technology. However, for this specific case,  the multitude of requirements for the membranes mentioned above, makes the treatment extra challenging, emphasizing the limited process understanding/predictability, and high uncertainties with respect to scalability and long-term robustness.

This project aims at realising a breakthrough in this field by developing innovative, efficient and economic membrane-based technology solutions for the sustainable treatment of these very complex solvent-rich waste waters in a holistic approach. The partners envision that the most optimal processes will be hybrid processes combining appropriate, robust membranes in synergy with powerful pre- or post-treatment (e.g. adsorption, advanced oxidation or others), allowing a (semi)-continuous on-site treatment of large volumes of waste with minimal effort. The intention is that the purified water can be processed in the existing waste water treatment plant, and, where possible, valuable compounds as precious metals can be recuperated. This will not only decrease costs, but close material loops and add to a more circular economy.

Project type: ICON
Approved on: 26/10/2017
Duration: 01/11/2017 – 30/04/2020
Total project budget: EUR 1.520.228
Subsidy: EUR 1.271.039
Bizidee Awards 2019


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


Bizidee Awards 2019


The PROFIT project will reverse engineer products with recycled content and define and produce feedstock from recycling which are fit for use.
Starting from applications and plastic products the project will define properties and specifications for feedstock.
Using these specifications, novel separation techniques will be developed for 2 different complex and mixed plastic waste streams.
This approach throughout the value chain and through reverse engineering allows a cost effective and efficient process. Water management and use of chemicals will be optimized through water purification techniques. Using Life cycle analysis, these any claims on efficiency and sustainability will be continuously monitored.


Project type: ICON
Approved on: 01/12/2016
Duration: 01/01/201 – 31/12/2019
Total project budget: EUR 622.182
Subsidy: EUR 403.337
Bizidee Awards 2019


Symbiose: Vlaamse bedrijven wisselen reststromen uit

Bij industriële symbiose wisselen bedrijven nevenstromen met elkaar uit. Op het Symbioseplatform ontmoeten vragers en aanbieders van materialen elkaar. Een ervaren symbioseteam helpt om de juiste contacten te leggen, samen met kennis- en onderzoekscentra.

De OVAM ondersteunt het symbioseplatform, omdat symbiose leidt tot gesloten materiaalkringlopen. Zo vermindert u de hoeveelheid bedrijfsafval en valoriseren we waardevolle reststromen.


Ga naar het symbioseplatform:


Symbiose infographicHoe werkt het?

Op het platform vindt u een databank aan vragen en aanbiedingen. U kan daarin materialen opzoeken. Denk aan reststromen, recyclaten of alternatieve grondstoffen die u in uw bedrijf kan inzetten. Of u kan nagaan welke bedrijven op zoek zijn naar een materiaal dat in uw bedrijf als reststroom vrijkomt.

Hebt u interesse in een bepaalde vraag of aanbod? Dan kan u op het platform contact opnemen met het bedrijf waarmee u een samenwerking wil starten. Zonder enige verplichting. De aanbieder of vrager van dat materiaal kiest zelf wanneer het zijn identiteit en detailinformatie deelt.

Ondernemingen bepalen de details van een symbiose-overeenkomst volledig autonoom. Ook de financiële component.

Doe een beroep op het symbioseteam wanneer u een vraag hebt. Zij bieden hulp en expertise over praktische, technologische, logistieke en juridische zaken. Het symbioseteam is een ervaren team, dat onafhankelijk van de OVAM werkt.

De OVAM ondersteunt deze hoogwaardige materiaalvalorisatie bij bedrijven zodat zij meer materiaalkringlopen kunnen sluiten en minder (primaire) materialen verspillen. De OVAM heeft evenwel geen zicht op de individuele bedrijfsdata binnen het online platform, deze zijn enkel zichtbaar voor het Symbioseteam. De OVAM gebruikt enkel de geaggregeerde symbiosedata in haar beleidsmonitoring van de circulaire economie.

Meer weten? Lees onze antwoorden op de veelgestelde vragen.

Of contacteer het Symbioseteam op

Onze garanties

  • U ontvangt gratis hulp en expertise van een ervaren symbioseteam, zowel over technologische, logistieke als juridische zaken.
  • U bepaalt altijd zelf met wie u uw informatie deelt.
  • Uw samenwerkingen zijn een economische meerwaarde: u kunt uw afvalkost omzetten in een materiaalopbrengst.
  • De milieu-impact van uw bedrijf gaat omlaag.
  • U vergroot uw kennisnetwerk.


Het Symbiose-project startte in september 2012 en werd gesubsidieerd door het Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen tot en met december 2015. Catalisti maakte actief deel uit van de uitvoering van het project van september 2014 tot december 2015.