Aim of the project
Develop integral fractionation of lignocellulose to produce components for high-value applications
FRACTION develops a novel integrated biorefinery approach to maximize the purity and quality of lignin and hemicellulose side streams in 2nd generation biorefineries to achieve its use in the formulation of high added value products, while keeping high quality cellulose as main targeted product.
This will be achieved thanks to a novel organosolv fractionation process using a mixture of ɣ-valerolactone (GVL) and water, followed by downstream processing and purification technologies aimed to produce high quality end products making the most out of all the lignocellulose components.
The uniqueness of this project is the outstanding performance of GVL-based fractionation, including solvent recovery and reutilisation. The use of GVL as a solvent offers unique advantages to the process by the virtue of its chemical and physical properties and solves problems associated with biomass fractionation, such as:
- continuous biomass feeding
- high biomass loading
- low degradation of all three streams – cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin
- the ability to effectively process the hemicellulose stream downstream within the solvent
Raising TRL level of GVL recovery and stream utilisation
The main objective of FRACTION is to validate in lab (TRL4), start the activities towards TRL5 (engineering-problematic processes as GVL recovery and stream reutilisation) and demonstrate the sustainable and techno-economic viability of a novel lignocellulose biorefinery scheme with the GVL-fractionation technology as its core, enabling to obtain high purity lignin and hemicellulose streams while maintaining the value of high-grade cellulose as main output.
The overarching objective of the FRACTION project is to increase the performance of 2nd generation biorefineries, improving their economics and flexibility in dealing with lignocellulose feedstocks.
Environmental objectives contribute to EU's climate neutral by 2050 strategy
From an environmental perspective, the FRACTION project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the value chain through improvements in a range of production methods. It will also increase energy efficiency by more than 50% when benchmarked against current state-of-the-art methods. It will also contribute the EU’s climate neutral by 2050 strategy through creating energy and resource efficient biorefineries.
Reduced costs increase the economic and are in line with sustainable industry
From an economic perspective, the FRACTION project will increase the total economic value of lignocellulose processing-derived products by at least 20%. In addition, it will reduce separation costs in processing by at least 20% – a significant contribution, given that this can be as much as 40% of overall production costs.
Circular economy solutions provide well-being for society
From a social perspective, the FRACTION project will demonstrate the potential for creating new jobs in rural and coastal areas within the bio-based economy. This will make these less-urban settings easier and more attractive places to live and work.
FRACTION’s workflow is divided in four lines, described below.
This line represents the scale-up efforts for the fractionation. First, several feedstocks will be fractionated to obtain high purity and high yield cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose streams at lab scale (TRL 3). Special attention will be paid to the fractionation of mixtures of feedstocks with different morphology and minimal pre-processing. Later, the fractionation step will be scaled up to bench scale (TRL 4-5) for the most promising feedstocks and mixtures. Samples of cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose will be delivered to the partners for their validation. Finally, information about process conditions, yield and purity will be provided to perform the simulation of the process at commercial scale and perform the LCA.
This line unites the downstream processing of the three lignocellulose fractions until the production of the intermediate building blocks, later on used as commodities for the formulation and validation of end products in Line 3. In the first phase, the technology developers in the consortium will start receiving samples from the lab scale facilities of CSIC (fractionation) which will allow to start developing the conversion routes at TRL3. Once the fractionation technology is scaled up to TRL4 in Line 1 of work, the quantity of samples and the first results of the conversion routes will allow to scale up these to TRL4. Once the work, both at TRL3 and TRL4, is allowing to obtain the intermediate building blocks with the proper characteristics and quantities, the chemicals will be sampled to the partners in Line 3 of work.
The intermediate chemicals obtained in Line 2 will be used to test end-product formulations, which will be validated for final application. The formulation and validation will be performed considering the technical requirements to achieve the end product’s desired quality as well as to meet existing regulations and standards. Validators will provide Line 2 with these requirements. At the end, end of life testing will be performed.
In parallel to the Lines 1, 2 and 3, Line 4 will plan and execute the dissemination, communication and exploitation activities of the project. Dissemination and exploitation activities will be performed not only to spread the results of the project activities or prepare individual exploitation routes for each one of the project Key Exploitable Results, but also to maximise the probability of a common roadmap after the project in order to implement in the following years’ technology transfer and development activities.