The team here at Bio-Based World News regularly report on companies at all stages of bio-based commercial development, from those already making significant profits to ones just at the beginning of the journey. We all know that the path from conception to commercialization is a difficult one, it’s not called the Valley of Death for nothing! One of the major challenges is scaling up production processes from the laboratory production to industrial levels. The ability to scale-up is essential for commercial progress but the need for complex, and often expensive equipment is a major hindrance. One solution to this a pilot facility, and to learn more, our Editor Luke Upton visited Delft in the Netherlands the home of the Bioprocess Pilot Facility and spoke to Peter Flippo, a Business Development Manager at the facility about the story of the facility and how it fits into the growing bio-based economy.
The town of Delft, in the south of the Netherlands is probably most famous for Delftware, hand-painted blue-and-white pottery but with the opening of its 5000m2 Bioprocess Pilot Facility (BPF) in March 2015, it is quickly establishing a reputation within the bio-based economy. The BPF offers a unique multi-purpose facility where companies, universities and knowledge institutions can investigate and learn how sustainable production processes respond when scaled up and better predict the process on a commercial scale. The result of a €37m investment, and with 35 staff, it serves areas including chemicals, fuels and ingredients for Food and Pharma.
I asked Peter, who has a 25+ year career in the chemical and materials industry with companies including Barco, Bekaert and before joining the Pilot Plant, Arizona Chemical, what some of the benefits of using a scale-up plant were; “The biggest one is that we reduce the risk for the client, scaling-up from the laboratory is a massive challenge and we help take away a lot of the problems. We are able to deliver a proof of concept on semi-industrial scale, collect reliable data for engineering and safety studies and test and validate designs. Plus of course we also produce the actual product, which can then be used for pre-marketing and as samples for clients. And as a team of experts we like to think we also enhance the skills in the client organization.”
The BPF offer a whole integrated process, with a flexible modular approach covering pre-treatment and hydrolysis, fermentation, downstream processing and food grade.
Peter on why this is important; “With a modular concept we are able to offer a customized approach for each client, with either continuous or batch production. And we can store and process a wide variety of lignocellulosic feedstocks like straw or bagasse as well as other co-products from agricultural, forest or waste origin. Whatever the client wants to use. Plus we can even offer access to rental equipment if required.”
Being an open access pilot plant, they take intellectual property (IP) very seriously. All project related IP belongs to the client. This is key to a successful growth of the business, making it possible for direct competitors doing their scaling up project at BPF. And the team are incredibly positive about their first 16 months, with a strong commitment to their role in helping grow the bio-based economy. The developments of pilot plants like this one found in Delft are a great opportunity for companies to overcome the bottleneck in scaling-up and find a quick route to commerciality. Proving process and product at a pilot scale is an excellent predictor of an ability to be successful at processing at a commercial scale, and examples of business partners include Verdezyne, DSM, Corbion, Evonik and many more.
In speaking to the team at the BPF about their work, it’s really clear what a great offering they have available for the industry. They have none of their own production, their focus is on helping companies scale up, as Peter says, “our mission is successful when the customer has built a commercial plant”
To learn more about how you can take advantage of what the Pilot Plant offers and work with the team there, please contact Peter Flippo email@example.com or call +31 (0) 15 5150200.
Bioprocess Pilot Facility (BPF, Delft, the Netherlands) are Exhibiting at Bio-Based Live in San Francisco on September 26-27 2016, and will be joining fellow experts including representatives from the USDA, Matter Unlimited, Genomatica, Anellotech, Korres Natural Products, Braskem, Allbirds and many more
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