Work has begun on a new EU-funded project to improve the performance of Europe’s biorefineries. Dubbed EUROBIOREF (European multilevel integrated biorefinery design for sustainable biomass processing), the project aims to improve cost efficiency by 30%, cut energy use by 30% and reduce feedstock consumption by 10%.
The 4-year project has a total budget of €37 million (US450.5 million), €23 million US$31.4 million) of which comes from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
The EUROBIOREF project aims to overcome this fragmentation in the biofuels sector by promoting more networking, coordination and cooperation between different groups. To do this, it has put together a project consortium that covers the whole biomass production chain, including researchers, companies in the (bio)chemical industry and European organizations.
Together, the partners will develop an integrated biorefinery concept covering a wide range of feedstocks and different processes (chemical, biochemical and thermochemical). This integrated system will result in the production of a variety of products, ranging from chemicals, polymers and materials to high-energy aviation fuels.
The project partners are taking a flexible, modular approach to the new system; this will allow them to easily adapt the system so that it can be used in large and small plants in different locations in Europe. They hope that by improving the efficiency of the reaction processes, making the system more flexible and reducing production time and logistics, they will be able to improve cost efficiency by up to 30%.
In addition, they intend to reduce the amount of energy used in the process by 30% and cut feedstock consumption by 10%. Finally, the plants should produce zero waste.
Sustainability is at the heart of the project; the team will carry out environmental life cycle assessments of the integrated biorefinery. The system’s social sustainability will be judged on the basis of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) guidelines for the social life cycle assessment of products.
The project partners come from 14 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Madagascar, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.