GFBiochemicals

The need to establish economically and environmentally sustainable large-scale systems for geographically independent conversion of the renewable resource, biomass to building blocks for the chemical industry is becoming increasingly urgent regarding climate change and shrinking oil reservoirs.

With the GreenSolRes project we expect the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to levulinic acid to offer a versatile chemical. Levulinic acid is a well known platform substance for chemical synthesis, which is considered as key for moving Europe towards biobased manufacturing, if production amounts and price match the market demand.

The GreenSolRes consortium targets at products with an added value for consumers and society beyond the benefits of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable use of resources. The most promising and cost effective approach for the demonstration of biobased value chain is to combine existing facilities, process know-how and applications.

The GreenSolRes project demonstrates the Value Chain 1, the conversion of lignocellulosic feedstocks into levulinic acid as building block and product - upgrading to solvents and resin monomers – production of high added value adhesives and consumer products.

The successful completion of GreenSolRes will lead to the establishment of a commercial plant for sustainable production of levulinic acid and derivatives stimulating rapid gain in spectrum and production volume of biobased consumer products.

The overall objective of GreenSolRes is to demonstrate the competitiveness of the levulinic acid (LVA) value chain in terms of costs, environmental impact and technical performance. The final project target is to have the optimized process design of all process components in full scale ready, enabling commercialisation of the process after the project.

Lignocellulosic biomass is converted in a robust and low-impact process to LVA, which is subsequently reduced to γ-valerolactone (GVL), 1-methyl-1,4-butanediol (MeBDO) and 2-methyltetrahydrofuran (2-MTHF).

These are applied as solvents or as building blocks in different polymers like Polyurethanes, Polyesters and Polyether and then formulated to biobased adhesives and in the pharmaceutical sector. The substances have superior ecotoxicity and pharmacological properties compared to the established fossil based solvents.

The project consortium consists of 4 industrial partners, 2 universities and 1 research and technology organisation based in Italy, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. This demonstration project is funded under "Bio-based Industries Innovation action - Demonstration" within EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.

GreenSolRes will demonstrate the production of levulenic acid from lygnocellulosic feedstock.

Project Acronym
GreenSolRes

Grant Agreement number
720695

Funding program
Horizon 2020-BBI-PPP

Funding volume
7.45 million €

Project duration
48 months (09/2016 – 08/2020)

Coordinator
GFBiochemicals Italy S.p.A.

HENKEL - Henkel AG & Co. KGaA (Germany)

HENKEL, founded in 1876, holds globally leading market positions in consumer (Laundry & Home + Beauty Care) and industrial businesses (Adhesive Technologies) with well-known brands like Persil, Schwarzkopf and Loctite. The Dax-30 company (headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany) is proud of its 49,000 employees from more than 120 nations worldwide, located at 164 manufacturing and 17 major R&D; sites around the world. The main task of HENKEL in the GreenSolRes project is the demonstration of applications for the levulinic acid based solvents and the development of levulinic acid based building blocks for products of the business unit Adhesive Technologies.

RWTH - Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (Germany)

RWTH Aachen, is among the leading European educational and research institutions with its 260 institutes in nine faculties. The work of the research centers of RWTH Aachen is closely oriented towards the current needs of business and industry. This leads to numerous developments and inventions that are patented and exploited. The University’s innovative capacity is further reflected in the high number of business startups, currently more than 1,400. As a result, around 32,000 jobs have been created in the region in the last 25 years. In GreenSolRes, RWTH Aachen University will design and optimize the process converting levulinic acid into desired products 2-methyltetrahydrofuran (2-MTHF), gamma-valerolactone (GVL) and 1-methyl-1,4-butanediol (MeBDO). The design for scaling up this process to demo plant will be laid out to build the plant in cooperation with GFBiochemicals.

SYNCOM - SYNCOM Forschungs- und Entwicklungsberatung GmbH (Germany)

SYNCOM is a consulting firm founded in 1997 with the focus on innovation management. Physicists, Chemists, Engineers and Business managers apply management expertise and scientific know-how to support their clients in realizing innovations. Key business sectors are bio-refineries, materials and mechanical/electrical engineering. In GreenSolRes, SYNCOM contributes management and administrative support to the consortium as a whole and assist the coordinator in some of the day to day management tasks of the project. Additionally, SYNCOM will assist in organisation and steering of the dissemination activities, contribute to the LCA and business case development.

GFB – GFBiochemicals (Italy)

GFBiochemicals is the only company to produce levulinic acid at commercial scale directly from biomass. In 2008, a group of biobased chemical experts saw the significant potential of levulinic acid to replace petroleum-based products across a range of market sectors and founded the company to develop the production technology needed for this revolution. GFBiochemical is coordinating GreenSolRes and its main tasks in the project are selection of feedstock and the execution of demonstration scale plant trials for the production of levulinic acid and then hydrogenation, business case development and dissemination.

LIKAT - Leibniz-Institut für Katalyse e.V. Rostock (Germany)

LIKAT is one of the largest publicly-funded research institutes in Europe in the area of applied catalysis, combining both homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. The institute currently employs about 300 people. It is housed in modern laboratories and has an excellent infrastructure, including state-of-the art analytical facilities. The research for GreenSolRes will take place in the Department of Catalysis with renewables resources, headed by Prof. Dr. Johannes G. de Vries. The main task of LIKAT in this project is to develop new catalytic synthesis of poly-2-methyl-THF, poly-gamma-valerolactone, polyesters made from methyl butanediol and various diacids and then scale-up of these polymers.

HYBRID - Hybrid Catalysis BV (The Netherlands)

HYBRID has served the chemical industry with respect to contract R&D; in advanced nanostructured catalyst development and automated screening since its launch in 2005. It has own IP on nanocatalysts that are in cases being subjected to plant trials. Currently, Hybrid has about 15 multinational customers. HYBRID was participant in FP7 granted programs NanoHost, HiCat, INCAS, DEMCAMER and REFORCELL as well as in CatchBio, a 29 M€ Dutch research effort related to catalytic utilization of renewable feedstocks. In GreenSolRes, HYBRID is responsible for the scale up of the production of the ruthenium complex catalyst required for the upgrading of LVA to 2-MTHF, GVL and MeBDO in the demo plant. After final quality control, HYBRID will provide technical support related to the catalyst application and the quality control.

VITO - Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek N.V. (Belgium)

VITO is an independent research and technology organisation in the areas of cleantech and sustainable development, elaborating solutions for the large societal challenges of today. VITO provides innovative and high-quality solutions, whereby large and small companies can gain a competitive advantage. The organisation advises industry and governments on determining their policy for the future. VITO has 750 highly qualified employees who work on international projects all around the world. The environmental impact assessment in GreenSolRes will be performed by experts of the Environmental Risk and Health Unit of VITO. Within GreenSolRes, VITO will be responsible for the hazard evaluation for human health and environmental impact assessment. The risk assessment of the biomass based chemicals will be done according to the EU guidelines.