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From Science & Research

From Science & Research Next generation chemical building blocks and bioplastics EU projects SYNPOL & BioConSepT – Two approaches, one goal! Building block succinic acid succinic acid succinic acid succinic acid succinic acid succinic acid succinic acid succinic acid succinic acid n-butanol maleic acid isobutanol farnesene 3-hydroxypropionic acid 3-hydroxypropionic acid butanediol butanediol Companies BASF, Corbion DSM, Roquette Bioamber, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Faurecia Bioamber, PTT-MCC Biochem Bioamber, Lanxess Myriant, PTT chemical Myriant, Uhde Bioamber, Cargill Bioamber, Dupont, Evonik Granvio, Solvay Novozymes, ADM Gevo, Lanxess Amryis, Kuraray Novozymes, BASF, Cargill OPXBIO, Dow Novamont, Genomatica BASF, Genomatica, Toray Table 1: Industrial Alliances and Partnerships for the Production of Bio-based Building Block Chemicals The Bioeconomy Strategy published by the European Commission in 2012 promotes the use of renewable resources from land and sea for a post-petroleum economy to build an innovative, more resource-efficient and competitive society that aims to optimize the trade-off between food security, the sustainable industrial use of renewable resources and environmental protection. This strategy promotes the production of renewable biological resources and conversion of these resources and their waste streams into value added products, such as chemical building block compounds and bioplastics. European research is helping to gather the fundamental knowhow required to develop reliable processes for development and processing of feedstocks from disparate and novel sources. To some extend this is done through two EU-funded projects, BioConSepT and SYNPOL, due to conclude in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Non-food competing feedstock materials The need for alternative resources, because of the finite sources of fossil reserves is generally accepted. In order to become a competitive alternative on the market, the price of e.g. bioplastics for a certain application must be in the same range as the competing petroleum-based plastics, which currently, despite of the volatile oil prices, is not the case. The most promising approach to make bioplastics and chemical building block compounds economically more competitive is the use of waste streams as a source, such as household waste or sewage sludge loadings from water treatment plants that now end up in landfills. The two European Union KBBE projects SYNPOL and BioConSepT aim to integrate production (fermentation) and Bio or chemical conversion plus (integrated) separation & purification + Fig. 1: Integration of bioconversion and separation technology for the production and application of platform chemicals from 2nd generation biomass (BioConSepT) Robust micro-organisms and enzymes © TNO © TNO Demonstration at industrial scale 2 nd generation feedstock Applications 28 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/14] Vol. 9

From Science & Research Recycling Waste feedstocks Degradation CO 2 + H 2 Reactor design Syngas production New biopolymers Degradation Biopolymers synthesis Strain design PHA downstream process Pilot plant Fig. 2: The SYNPOL platform separation technologies for the cost-effective commercial synthesis of high added-value chemical building blocks and bioplastics. While SYNPOL uses (bio)waste to produce syngas, which is then fermented, BioConSepT focuses on the use of so-called second generation feedstocks like wood (lignocellulose) and non-edible oils and fats. The BioConSepT project: From Plants to Plastics BioConSepT (Bio-Conversion and Separation Technology) aims to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of white biotechnology processes where 2nd generation biomass will be converted into chemical building blocks. For producing bioplastics two types of biomass, which are not competing with the food chain, are being evaluated: lingocellulosic biomasses, and non-edible fractions of fats and oils. The main achievements expected for BioConSepT are to develop the robust enzymes and microorganisms suited for recalcitrant 2 nd generation feedstocks, to reduce equipment costs and the number of process steps by the integration of bio- and chemical conversion and highly selective separation technologies; and by proving the suitability of the produced platform chemicals for industrial application by demonstrating integrated production chains from 2 nd generation feedstocks to platform chemicals at industrially relevant scale. BioConSepT will bring novel technologies from lab to pilot scale by high-level applied research. The large industrial parties and SMEs expect new products, processes, and services with a potential value of hundreds of million Euros. Integration Along the Value Chain BioConSepT was established in line with the newly developing concept within the chemical industry of emerging partnerships and alliances. In this vision, individual partners focus on their own strengths but benefit from their collaborations along the business chain from the source to the consumer. Compared to the food industries, where most chains are owned by single companies/industries, this situation is clearly a new development and is specific for the chemical industry. Table 1 presents some of these partnerships and alliances - including biotechnology startups and large industries - for a few common chemical building blocks. BioConSepT aims to demonstrate the feasibility of an integrated chain approach, which is regarded as the basis for the next generation of industrial biotechnology processes. Note: websites of each Alliance or Partnership can be found at The technological objectives of BioConSepT focus on all individual aspects along the production chain, from plant biomass to pilot plant (Fig. 1). BioConSept focusses on dicarboxylic acids like itaconic acid and furan-dicarboxylic acid for use in bioplastics. The SYNPOL project: Introduction of novel technologies and biotech approaches in Europe Complex organic waste raw materials - such as municipal and industrial waste - which are pyrolyzed, gasified and then fermented by microorganisms, are the starting point of the SYNPOL (Biopolymers from syngas fermentation) project, which aims at producing 100% biodegradable bioplastics (PHA) and chemical building block compounds such as butanediol, succinic acid, hydroxybutyric acid and crotonic acid. Pyrolysis and gasification are widely regarded as the main viable large-scale options for (bio)waste disposal. Gasification, combined with biosynthesis processing systems such as fermentations, has become a promising industrial bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/14] Vol. 9 29

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