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Global Bioenergies to take part in three more H2020 projects; second-, third-generation feedstocks for isobutene production

Global Bioenergies has been selected in more Horizon 2020 projects funded by the European Union, and will receive for this purpose about €2 million in grants over 4 years. These projects reinforce Global Bioenergies’ strategy of feedstock diversification in order to continue improving the economics and the environmental impact of its Isobutene process.

Earlier this week, Global Bioenergies announced it is leading the €19.7-million REWOFUEL project to demonstrate the production of isobutene-derived gasoline and jetfuel from wood residuals. For that, GBE is receiving funding amounting to €5.7 million (US$7 million). (Earlier post.)

Global Bioenergies’ bio-process for the production of isobutene relies on the use of renewable resources. The process is presently operated at demo-plant scale using first generation feedstocks, such as sugar beet sucrose or wheat glucose. For several years now, Global Bioenergies has been actively investigating the adaptation of its process to second and third generation feedstocks, aiming at reducing the risk of future competition with food or feed resources, and also to continue improving the economics and the CO2-reduction level of its process.

Second-generation resources consist in agricultural wastes such as wheat straw or corn stover, as well as wood chips and other forestry leftovers. Each of these feedstocks contains sugars which, once made accessible to microorganisms by physical and enzymatic treatments, have proven being excellent substrates for fermentation. Global Bioenergies has already announced being the coordinator the EU-funded projects named OPTISOCHEM (earlier post) as well as REWOFUEL, respectively targeting the use of wheat straw and softwood to produce isobutene derivatives, and will receive a total of €10 million as grants from these two programs.

Third-generation feedstocks consist of inorganic carbon resources, such as carbon dioxide or monoxide from industrial waste, and represent the ultimate alternative in terms of environmental impact. In 2017, Global Bioenergies acquired Syngip, a small Dutch company involved in third-generation processes (earlier post).

The three additional H2020 programs (N° 792061, 760431, and 763911) are related to second- and third-generation feedstocks. In total, Global Bioenergies will receive €2 million in grants from these three new programs, over four years.

One of these new programs, named “SWEETWOODS” and led by the Estonian forestry industrialist Granuul Invest, targets the utilization of hardwood in fermentative processes at demo scale, with the aim of utilizing all fractions of the biomass feedstock and thus minimizing the carbon- containing streams associated to low-value uses. Global Bioenergies will validate that hardwood hydrolysates can indeed be used as a feedstock in its Isobutene process. By specifically addressing hardwood biomass, this program completes the portfolio of second generation feedstocks to be used by Global Bioenergies in its Isobutene production process.

The two other new programs are related to third-generation resources. One is led by VITO, a Dutch institution among the world leaders in industrial biology, and targets the use of industrial CO2 to produce chemical compounds, and in particular isobutene. Global Bioenergies’ Dutch subsidiary will dedicate a large part of its activities to this program.

The other project, led by the Max Planck Institute, takes place in a new, emerging scientific field: electrobiology. The driving idea of this program is to use renewable electricity as an energy source to produce liquid fuels and materials from CO2.

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