"Not only we have now a reliable and competitive source of biomass, but a quality one, which at the end will mean less costs in enzymes and pre- and post-processing."
A bio-based research company specialising in robust sustainable feedstocks has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with an EU-funded consortium to source up to 500,000 tonnes of biomass. The potential deal for the non-woody lignocellulosic product would be significant should it go ahead, as it would lead to the construction of Europe’s largest biorefinery.
Alkol Biotech was chosen for the biomass project owing to the UK company’s specific area of expertise behind creating crop strains that grow in colder and drier climates, with better resistance to pests and diseases, and greater yields than existing alternatives. Its first crop, EUnergyCane, is according to Alkol Biotech the only native European variety that thrives in cold climates.
The objectives of the project are to establish competitive set-ups for biorefinery processes based on four different pre-treatment technologies for the production of intermediates including cellulose and lignin. These will in turn help to form six bio-based building blocks or end-products such as carbon binders, butanol, resin acid, enzymes and furan dicarboxylic acid (FDCA).
Under the terms of the deal, Alkol Biotech will provide 500,000 tonnes of non-woody biomass a year from Spain and Portugal – and later, the UK – to the as-yet -unannounced biorefinery site. The maximum price per tonne will be €70 and will not compete in any way with food or feed production. In exchange, the biorefinery will commit to purchasing the biomass for the next decade with automatic renewal.
Alkol Biotech CEO, Al Costa, said the LOI showed that Europe was “waking up to the fact” that non-woody biomasses were viable feedstocks for chemicals and fuels. “Not only we have now a reliable and competitive source of biomass, but a quality one, which at the end will mean less costs in enzymes and pre- and post-processing, and thus cost-effective renewable chemical building blocks,” said Costa.
The latest LOI was signed with Bio Refinery Development BV, one of the members of the 14 company-company consortium – known as Bioforever – formed to facilitate the building of a biorefinery producing sustainable bio products normally sourced from fossil fuels. Bioforever is funded by a €3.7bn public-private partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium, Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU). Organisations from The Netherlands, Greece, Norway, UK, Finland, Germany and France make up the other 13 members of BioForever, including Avantium, Borregaard, DSM, Green Biologics and MetGen.
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