“The plant is suitable for a variety of production methods for oil based on biological residuals or recycled plastics. We are talking to several parties, mainly start-ups and young companies from the Netherlands and abroad.”
A Netherlands-based facility that will be used to convert biological residual flows and waste into high-quality products is set to open in April, according to the Chemelot Institute for Science & Technology (InSciTe). In a statement, the InSciTe said that its facility will help to develop “promising sustainable innovations”.
InSciTe is a private-public partnership between Dutch multinational Royal DSM, and Netherlands-based research institutes which include Brightlands Chemelot Campus, Eindhoven University of Technology, and Maastricht University. InSciTe was set up in 2015 with an investment of €80 million.
This bio-based oil, which is called crude lignin oil (CLO), will be used as a fuel for ships and boats. It is much more sustainable and environmentally friendly than “bunker” fuels that are currently used, according to InSciTe. These fuels contain high levels of sulphur (more than 3%), but despite this, no sustainable alternatives have been available – until now. Alternatively, CLO, just like fossil crude oil, can be converted into other valuable products such as octane-boosting additives for gasoline, as well as phenol and various polymer resins.
“We can’t fill our cars up with it yet, but lignin oil appears to be suitable as a fuel for ship’s engines,” Emiel Staring, director of InSciTe.
He added: “This is the first commercial application; in a few years, the shipping industry will be required by law to switch to cleaner fuels. Nowadays, ships discharge huge amounts of undesirable materials on the open sea, and this is very harmful for the environment. Switching to cleaner fuels is however a major challenge lignin oil can offer a solution for. Lignin oil doesn’t contain sulphur, heavy metals or other toxic materials.
“It does contain CO2 which is released during any type of combustive process. But it is a great step forward. It also offers other options. Lignin can serve as a full-fledged replacement for oil, and as a basic raw material for bio-plastics.”
Staring said that the institute was pressing ahead with the construction of the pilot plant, which will be “finished on time” by April.
Vertoro CEO Michael Boot said that he welcomed the news about the construction of the plant, saying it was “crucial” for his company. He added: “We have to scale up now so we can supply samples to our customers on a larger scale. To do this, we need to be able to produce the necessary quantities of oil. Building our own installations isn’t an option.
“To do this, we would need millions in venture capital; this is not easy to find for a product that still has to prove its worth.”
Elsewhere, InSciTe said that other projects will also be in the pipeline to develop bio-based innovations. Staring said: “The plant is suitable for a variety of production methods for oil based on biological residuals or recycled plastics. We are talking to several parties, mainly start-ups and young companies from the Netherlands and abroad.”