Upgrading of renewable domestic raw materials to value-added bulk and fine chemicals for a biobased economy: technology development, systems integration and environmental impact assessment.
Researchers: Lisbeth Olsson, Carl-Johan Franzén, Eva Albers, Maurizio Bettiga,Valeria Mapelli, Emma Karlsson, Nikolaos Xafenías, Joshua Mayers, Salvatore Fusco, Jae Ho Shin and Veronica Saez Jimenez
The acronym BioBuF stays for Biorefinery for Bulk and Fine chemicals. The concept of biorefinery is directly derived from the concept of oil refinery, where oil is used as source of specific of compounds (platform chemicals), which are further chemically converted into a wider array of chemicals used for the manufacture of fuels, materials (e.g. plastic polymers), detergents, flavours, and many other products that are nowadays essential for our society. The possibility to recover and produce from biomass fuels and chemicals with the same functionalities as the ones derived from oil is the basis of the concept of biorefinery.
The aim of the BioBuF project is to assess the feasibility and potentials of a so-called biorefinery based on the use of renewable Swedish resources, such as microalgae and forestry residues. Adipic acid from biomass sugar streams and terephthalic acid from lignin are the two bulk chemicals of the envisioned biorefinery; whereas fine chemicals, such as pigments and anti-oxidants, will be derived from micro-algae. The development of innovative biomass pre-treatment and separation processes is also part of this project, as processes which are tailor-made for subsequent specific bioconversions would make the entire biorefinery system as efficient as possible, in terms of biomass usage. In order to maximize the use of the biomass and minimize the by-products, research on anaerobic digestion and bioelectrochemical systems is part of BioBuF, as these technologies would add value to residues that are generally considered as waste.
Experimental data obtained are used to evaluate the sustainability of the planned biorefinery via life cycle assessment analysis; while the overall impact of the planned biorefinery are evaluated via economic and environmental analysis, which substantially contribute to this collaborative project.
Research in BioBuF is performed by an interdisciplinary network mostly based at Chalmers University of Technology and involving the division of Industrial Biotechnology and the Departments of Energy and Environment, and Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Furthermore, Swedish industrial partners also contribute to the project and a reference group representing public institutions, funding and public agencies, and industrial clusters work as consultant subject proposing guide lines that would drive the research towards the interests and needs of the society.