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sábado, 13 de enero de 2018

Alkol Biotech and BRD sign LOI for non-woody lignocellulosic biomass sourcing for BIOFOREVER biorefinery

Tipe of post: NEWS.

BIOFOREVER is a project funded under the BBI JU 2015 call aimed at demonstrating 5 new lignocellulosic value chains and 3 valorisation routes for co-products utilizing 4 different cascading biorefinery concepts in order to establish optimal combinations of feedstock, biorefinery, end-products and markets. It is destined to ultimately build a biorefinery at commercial scale to produce a number of products normally sourced from oil. The consortium includes key names in the European biorefining arena.
More information can be found here: BIOFOREVER project – Boosting the next generation biorefining industry in Europe and CORDIS - BIOFOREVER.

Bio Refinery Development BV (BRD) is the commercialization partner of the project. Its original intention was to use woody-based feedstock such as pine, poplar and/or waste wood to obtain the expected products. For an attractive business case competitive sources of lignocellulosic biomass are required. Due to the high demand for woody biomass for heat and power generation, BRD is also exploring other alternative lignocellulosic feedstocks.

Several research have shown that cane varieties from the genum saccharum and similar grasses are a very economic feedstock (high yield per hectare, low lignin, no resin and high cellulose content). It is widely recognized that those canes do not grow in Europe due to its climate. Nevertheless, UK-based Alkol Biotech has identified in Motril (Granada, South of Spain) a naturally occurring and cold-resistant variety. Currently, this crop called EUnergyCane is the only cane variety natively European and able to grow in cold regions. Now, research is under progress to make it even more cold-resistant through the use of big data and genomics techniques.

Figure 1. EUnergyCane crop tests in controlled conditions (extracted from EUnergyCane website)

On this basis, BRD has decided to also use non-woody feedstocks. To this end, signed a Letter of Intent with Alkol Biotech. Through this, this company could provide each year up to 500.000 tons non-woody biomass from its growing regions from Spain and Portugal (later, in UK as well) to the port where the biorefinery will be built at a price of maximum 70 euros per ton (on a dry mass basis). These growing regions do not compete in any way with food or feed production or have any ILUC issues. In exchange, the future biorefinery will commit to purchase this biomass for the next 10 years with automatic renewal. Once the go/no go decision to build the biorefinery is taken, the LOI will transform into a regular supply contract under the same terms.

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