BIORESAL

BIO-based RESins from Aldehydes and Lignin

Context

The current industrial production of a wide range of chemicals and synthetic polymers relies on fossil resources. Consumers and brand owners drive the search for bio-based materials and products that are considered more sustainable. Companies search for performant materials containing bio-sourced carbon. Phenol, a fossil-derived chemical building block, is used downstream in various chemical formulations and applications, such as phenolic resins. Phenolic resins are successfully used in a variety of industrial applications, among others automotive, coating, varnish, adhesives, construction and insulation foams. For all these applications, there is a continued drive to find novel sustainable alternatives to these basic building blocks. In view of its chemical resemblance and availability, lignin and its derivatives could be a viable alternative to partially substitute phenol in phenol-formaldehyde resins.

Goal

The BIORESAL project aims to research to produce bio-based LPF resins by replacing phenol with (modified) oligomeric lignin fractions, as potentially less hazardous and sustainable building blocks for their application in insulation materials and moulding compounds. Most importantly, this replacement is needed in a technologically proven and economically viable way. Additionally, the BIORESAL project will include the evaluation of a series of aldehydes as co-reactant in the synthesis of bio-based LPF resins.

Project type: ICON
Approved on: 13/12/2018
Duration: 01/05/2019 – 30/04/2022
Total project budget: EUR 2.596.723
Subsidy: EUR 1.807.567
Partners:    

TanTailor

Introduction

This project focuses on the production and use of tailored tannins for different applications. Tannins are a group of polyphenolic compounds that are widely present in plants. They possess various biological activities including antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, anti-viral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulation, etc. They are currently utilized for the production of leather, wood adhesives, wine production and anti-corrosive primers. These natural aromatic compounds exhibit however greater prospects beyond their traditional use.

The specific chemical structures of tannins allow bimolecular nucleophilic substitution, giving the opportunity to convert them into several promising aromatic chemicals and building blocks for novel materials. Furthermore, tannins and tannin-derivatives could play a key role as nutraceutical products, bioactive phytochemicals, controlled release promoters, volatile organic compounds sequesters, and moisture retainers in pharmaceutical, cosmetic, agricultural and food/feed industries.

Goal

The main goal of this project is to identify which chemical identities give the desired and most performant functional properties and to define which level of modification and purity is required for the defined end-applications. All target applications are determined by the industrial partners.

 

Project type: ICON
Duration: September 2020 – September 2022

PolyFlam

Polyol-based Flame Retardants and Lubricants

Context

Flame retardants are a diverse group of chemicals which are added to a number of different materials (e.g. plastics, textiles, building materials) to enhance the materials’ resistance to fire. Within this diverse group, halogenated flame retardants are often regarded as being the most effective flame retardant, as only relatively small amounts are needed to obtain high flame protection. Nevertheless, this class of flame retardants can have detrimental effects on the aquatic environment if they leach out of different (plastic) materials, as they are very persistent, and they tend to bioaccumulate. A second possible negative effect could be their toxicity for humans. For these reasons, a number of them have been put on the candidate list (SVHC), like for instance Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) and Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE). There is clearly a need for more sustainable and environmentally friendly flame retardants.

Goal

This project aims to develop and produce branched polyols derived from a bio-based alcohol. These polyols can then be further transformed into (reactive) flame retardants via phosphorylation chemistry. The obtained flame retardants can subsequently be used in different applications, such as textile, polymers and fire-resistant industrial fluids. The bio-based polyols can also be converted into (fully) bio-based lubricants. A successful project will result in a new value chain starting from a common bio-based alcohol and ending up in high-end applications that can be embedded in the chemical industry in Flanders.

Project type: ICON
Approved on: 13/12/2018
Duration: 01/04/2019 – 31/03/2022
Total project budget: EUR 2.274.737
Subsidy: EUR 1.633.696
Partners:

AppliSurf

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:     

 

BAFTA

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

SPICY

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

Partners                Publications                Contact

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 of 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:

 

 

SweetEst

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:

ValBran

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 Picardy
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:

 

ATOL

Advanced Tailored OLigosaccharides

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