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 (BioBuF)

In this project, a novel biorefinery concept will be developed, wherein domestic renewable raw materials in the form of forestry residues (GROT) and micro-algae are converted into an array of bulk and added-value products. Adipic acid (the precursor of nylon) will be produced by microbial conversion of the main carbohydrate fractions of the raw materials. Aromatic chemicals, such as terephthalic acid, will be produced by bioconversion of the lignin fraction of GROT. Separation technology and pretreatment will be developed to obtain a lignin fraction that can be further converted into aromatic compounds. The potential of microalgae as a source of added-value chemicals will also be assessed. Side streams will be used in anaerobic digestion and bioelectrochemical systems, to improve the water economy, and allow for nutrient recycling within the process. Experimental data obtained in the project and from literature surveys will be used to assess the environmental impact of the entire process, including land use effects of producing and harvesting the raw materials. These data will also be used to assess the potential for integration with existing industry and its economic advantages. Scale-up effects on the environmental performance of different process steps will be assessed in parallel with the technology development. Our studies will lead to pinpointing which technological improvements are necessary for making this biorefinery-based technology sustainable.

Partner organizations

  • SIK – the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology (Public, Sweden)
Start date 17/06/2013
End date The project is closed: 31/12/2018

​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

In this project, a new biorefinery concept is developed in which forest residue (GROT) and micro-algae are converted into bulk and added-value chemicals. Adipic acid (the precursor for nylon) is produced via a biochemical process from the carbohydrate fractions of the raw materials. Aromatic chemicals are produced from the lignin fraction of GROT. Furthermore, the micro-algae will be assessed as a source of added-value chemicals.

The environmental impact of this process system is assessed based on lab-scale and literature data and information, and the influence on the environmental performance of scaling up the concept is quantified. This is done by applying process modelling and simulation using the lab-scale data. These data and process simulation are also used for the assessment of the potential integration of the process system into existing industry and the economic advantage thereof.

The assessments are carried out during the technology development and inform the technology developers and researchers where to focus their efforts to improve the biorefinery concept and make it sustainable.
Project leader
​Biobased economy, biorefinery, forest residues, algae, adipic acid, added-value chemicels

Other project members:

Anna Ekman, anna.ekman@sik.se

Funded by

  • Västra Götalandsregionen, Regional development committee (Public, Sweden)
  • Formas (Public, Sweden)
​Göteborg Energi AB, Holmen Energi AB, Sveaskog AB, SP Processum AB, Eka Chemicals AB, Akzo Nobel Surface Chemistry AB.

Published: Thu 19 Jul 2018.