VALue added CHEMical building blocks and lignin from wood

Background

The use of renewable resources in the production of chemicals is in the perspective of sustainability highly desirable. It is also believed to create numerous societal benefits such as the revitalisation of rural areas. These drivers are increasingly recognized, especially by brand owners, thus creating a growing market pull for green products. At the same time biorefining and biochemicals processes become increasingly cost efficient. Consequently, chemicals produced from biomass feedstocks, including woody biomass, are considered to become a major growth area. In that context UPM, SEKAB, METabolic EXplorer and the Technische Universität Darmstadt have partnered, joining competences of forest, chemical and bio-technology industries.

Process

Already before this project UPM, SEKAB and METEX each have developed individual process steps up to pilot- or demonstration scale. SEKAB’s CelluAPP® process disintegrates wood to sugars and crude lignin. The CelluAPP® technology has been verified at demonstration scale in a 24/7 continuous operation for sugar, lignin, biogas and ethanol production. The ValChem project combines the CelluAPP® process with UPM’s crude sugar and crude lignin upgrading technologies and METEX’s sugar to bio-MPG (MonoPropylene Glycol) process. The technology maturity will be improved through trials, utilising existing demonstration plants owned by the individual project partners, in order to demonstrate the vertical and horizontal process integration, and through production campaigns over longer time periods.

Products

Performance-lignin is intended to replace similar-in-application fossil components in high value added reactive resins and composites. This application will be developed jointly by the Technische Universität Darmstadt and UPM.

The largest markets for MPG are unsaturated polyester resins, paints and coatings, industrial applications and personal care. UPM together with METEX will identify and validate the most attractive application(s) for bio-MPG.

The ValChem value chain will utilise the wood resources at a higher material-efficiency as compared to conventional biorefining processes. Shifting the utilisation of wood resources from energy towards chemicals and materials will create higher added value and is seen as a prerequisite to the more sustainable cascading approach.

Objective

The objective of ValChem is to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of an innovative and sustainable value chain, which utilises wood as raw material to produce the bio-alternative of the platform chemical MPG as well as lignin-based performance chemicals.

The ValChem approach comprises the demonstration of an integrated and cost-efficient biochemicals process, as well as premarketing and product application tests at potential customers to validate the suitability and competitiveness of bio-MPG and lignin based performance chemicals for downstream processes in terms of quality, performance and production cost.

Work Packages and Schedule

Work Packages and Schedule

ValChem is a Demonstration Project and relates to the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) annual work plan topic BBI Topic: BBI.VC1.D2 2014: “Chemical building blocks and value-added materials through integrated processing of wood”

The formal EU project info can be found in the CORDIS portal.

Project information provided by the BBI JU can be found here.

Demonstration Activities

Demonstration activities in ValChem (demonstrators green = UPM, blue = SEKAB, orange = METEX, orange border = UPM & METEX, green border = TUDA & UPM)