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Global Bioenergies, Clariant and INEOS in €16.4M EU-funded project to demonstrate the production of isobutene derivatives from straw

Global Bioenergies is partnering with Clariant, INEOS, IPSB, TechnipFMC and Linz University in a €16.4-million (US$18-million) project to convert currently poorly valorized residual wheat straw into second-generation renewable isobutene for subsequent conversion into oligomers usable in lubricants, rubbers, solvents, plastics, or fuels.

The 48-month project will receive €9.8 million (US$10.7 million) from the EU’s Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU), with the remainder being contributed by the participants. The OPTISOCHEM project focuses on the demonstration of a new value chain, based on the combination of the technologies and know-how of the participants from four EU member states:

  • Conversion of straw into glucose- and xylose-rich hydrolysates by Clariant Sunliquid technology (Germany);

  • Fermentation of the straw hydrolysates into bio-isobutene by Global Bioenergies (France and Germany);

  • Conversion of bio-isobutene to oligomers by INEOS (a world leader in Belgium and France);

  • Preliminary engineering of an hydrolysate-to-isobutene plant and overall integration with a straw-to-hydrolysate plant, by TechnipFMC and IPSB (France); and

  • assessment of the sustainability and environmental benefits by the Energy Institute at the University of Linz (Austria).

The BBI-JU, a public-private partnership between the European Union and the Bio-Industries Consortium (BIC), is dedicated to realizing the European bio-economy potential, turning biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products through innovative technologies and bio-refineries, expected to become the heart of the bio-economy.

The BBI-JU selected this project under the name OPTISOCHEM (Nº 744330), in the frame of the European HORIZON 2020 program for research and innovation, following a selective and competitive process led by independent experts.

Global Bioenergies will receive funding amounting to €4.4 million (US$4.8 million) for its R&D activities at its Evry site, its pilot plant in Pomacle (both located in France), and its demo plant in Leuna (Germany).

This project will demonstrate a key value chain within the bio-economy: advanced bio-refineries based on agricultural residues. We will deliver from our pre-commercial plant in Straubing (Germany) second generation sugars to Global Bioenergies’ facilities for conversion to bio-isobutene, having already demonstrated in 2016 the perfect technology fit between our Sunliquid platform and Global Bioenergies’ Isobutene process. The larger scale demonstration will now prove technological and economic feasibility for commercial production in the future.

—Markus Rarbach, Head of Biofuels & Derivatives of Clariant

The Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking is a new €3.7-billion (US$4-billion) Public-Private Partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium. Operating under Horizon 2020, it is driven by the Vision and Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda (SIRA) developed by the industry.


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