Industry News

Avantium Opens Pilot Biorefinery for Plant-based Chemicals Production

Published on 2018-07-12. Author : SpecialChem

Avantium had announced that it will officially open a pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl, Netherlands next month. Opening ceremonies took place in Amsterdam on 10 July and in Delfzijl will take place on 13 July.

Avantium’s Novel Technologies

Avantium plant Biorefinery
Avantium opens a pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl, Netherlands, aiming at efficient use of biomass

Avantium develops novel technologies that uses renewable carbon sources instead of fossil resources, such as DAWN Technology. It aims to make the most efficient use of biomass and eliminating waste streams. All biomass constituents are separated into a range of products and the goal is to get the greatest possible value out of these products. This is called cascading.

DAWN Technology is an innovative process that converts plant-based non-food feedstock to high purity industrial sugars and lignin. The industrial sugars are used in chemistry and fermentation processes to produce a broad range of durable materials, while lignin is used in energy generation.

Dawn Technology’s Products

Lignin Avantium Plant
DAWN Technology by Avantium will produce lignin from plant waste

The DAWN Technology biorefinery produces three main product streams:

1. Glucose: DAWN Technology is differentiated from other technologies in its ability to produce high purity glucose. There is no source of high purity glucose from non-food, plant-based feedstock commercially available today.

2. Mixed sugars: In addition to glucose, the mixed sugar stream contains a number of other valuable sugars such as xylose, mannose and galactose. Mixed sugars are suitable as feedstock for fermentation processes used to make products such as ethanol, vitamins and acetic acid.

3. Lignin: Lignin is the compound that is left once the sugars have been taken out of the original raw material. It is more efficient for energy generation as its energy content is up to 40% higher than the original wood chips used in the process. Energy generation is currently the predominant
application for lignin. Additional higher value applications are being developed.

The technology uses acid to selectively separate the sugar streams from the feedstock material (i.e. the agricultural or forestry residues). Avantium’s proprietary inventions reduce water consumption by 70% with significantly reduced energy consumption. This not only manages the environmental footprint of the process but also improves the cost profile of the resulting products.

The objective of the pilot biorefinery is to scale up the technology, validate the economics, and further optimize the technology and application development.

The Core Building Block

Glucose is a core building block for many industrial products and is increasingly important in the transition towards a bio-based economy. All materials made from petroleum today (examples are bottles, t-shirts and carpets) can be replaced with materials made from glucose. This would reduce reliance on petroleum, mitigate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and help tackle climate change. Today, glucose is predominantly produced from food sources such as corn, wheat, sugar beet and sugar cane.

DAWN Technology unlocks the glucose available in non-food agricultural and forestry residues such as wood chips, wheat straw or corn stover.

Transitioning towards Circular Economy

Tom van Aken, Chief Executive Officer of Avantium, said: “We are thrilled to open our pilot biorefinery, which will enable the use of non-food biomass, such as forestry residue, to make many products people use every day. This is a milestone in our work to support the transition to a circular economy, and we are already looking beyond the pilot phase. We have a consortium of partners committed to developing a commercial-scale plant.”
Forestry residues plant avantium
Avantium's Biorefinery will use forestry residue to produce
useful products

Right Partners Tapping into Expertise

Avantium previously announced it had founded a consortium to develop an ecosystem for the biorefinery technology. The consortium consists of AkzoNobel, RWE, Staatsbosbeheer and Chemport Europe, each of which brings specific expertise for the planned commercial scale bio-refinery.

“We have gathered the right partners to tap into local expertise, utilities and infrastructure for the future commercial scale-up of our technology in the Netherlands,” said Van Aken. “Other potential partners around the world have also expressed interest in licensing our technology for local deployment, to make glucose from a wide variety of feedstocks.”

Replacing Petroleum Products

Gert-Jan Gruter, Chief Technology Officer of Avantium, said: “Glucose is a core building block for the transition towards a bio-based economy. We can replace all materials made from petroleum today with materials made from glucose. Our technology makes optimal use of already available agricultural and forestry residues.”

Patrick Brouns, regional minister of the province of Groningen, said: “We are happy to welcome Avantium to Delfzijl. They bring innovation, green chemistry and highly skilled jobs to the region and fit well with the existing local chemistry, energy and agricultural sectors “We are happy to welcome Avantium to Delfzijl. They bring innovation, green chemistry and highly skilled jobs to the region and fit well with the existing local chemistry, energy and agricultural sectors and the knowledge institutions. With Chemport Europe we also support the future commercialscale biorefinery in Delfzijl.”

Source: Avantium
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