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A project close to the industrialization

 

Alongside ambitious R&D goals, BIOCORE will also exploit more mature technologies to demonstrate at pilot scale the industrial feasibility of some value chains. Using the wide-ranging expertise and pilot equipment of the BIOCORE partners, the manufacture of intermediate and final products such as cellulose, lignins, bioethanol and bio-PVC will be achieved. Process integration will be carefully planned through modeling and design phases and tested via a smart “virtual” integration of partner’s existing pilot facilities. At the end of the BIOCORE project, the successful completion of pilot testing will provide flowsheets and design plans that will open the door to fast track industrial implementation.

 

Process design

The design and the synthesis of biorefineries is a very challenging and complex problem. This is because it has to cope with large, unknown product portfolios arising from different chemical itineraries and processing paths, while dealing with alternative processes that have to be integrated. In all cases, the designs must match maximum efficiencies in the use of materials and energy, assessing uncertainties in processing and economic parameters that may affect the selected designs and the level of integration.

 

To cope with the challenges, BIOCORE mobilizes a complete and powerful list of systems methods in process synthesis, process integration, optimization and modelling environments. 

 

At a conceptual level, process synthesis determines process and products to use, enabling a systematic screening with a simultaneous approach and the use of optimization. Process integration, integrates for maximum efficiency in raw materials and energy, as well as for a maximum performance against environmental targets. Process flowsheeting validates with process simulation and enables improvements with parametric optimization. The coordinated use of the methods constitutes a significant advancement in the state of the art, currently deploying case-by-case analysis (flowsheeting) using commercial simulators (NREL work on bioethanol production; Haas et al. on biodiesel (2006)).

 

What will be achieved by BIOCORE?

 BIOCORE will establish conceptual design(s) for a full-scale biorefinery.

BIOCORE will :

  • Select and integrate production and processing steps gradually upgrading the CIMV process
  • Translate techno-economical recommendations into full-scale designs, communicating techno-economical and sustainability recommendations and supporting developments
To handle the complexity of the problem, BIOCORE deploys a full range of state of the art methods that include process synthesis, modelling, optimization, simulation technology, and targeting methods for energy and water reuse. The methods systematize the design scope, deploying an exhaustive analysis, and offering a thorough assessment of opportunities to improve materials and energy efficiency.

 

Pilot demonstration

A number of pilot lignocellulose biorefinery operations are currently underway. Mostly, these are focussed on fuel ethanol production (e.g. the pilots and demonstration plants  in Denmark, Italy, Spain, and Sweden) and significant progress is necessary to properly integrate the use of all biomass fractions to manufacture additional products. Several agro-industries and commercial scale biofuels industries are implementing biorefinery type activities, because they produce a growing number of products from 1st generation feedstock (wheat, corn, sugar beet, rapeseed etc.) or from residues from 1st generation biofuels production e.g. methanol from glycerine. As 1st generation feedstocks are especially rich in C6 sugars most of the first generation products are derived from C6 sugars whereas C5 sugars and lignins are underutilized. But the chemical structure of C5 sugars and lignins enables the development of a wide variety of novel chemicals and represents thus a very good opportunity of enlarging the portfolio of biobased chemicals. There is clearly a need for industrial demonstration of new technologies that use lignocellulose as raw material to manufacture both fuels and chemicals in an optimal way. By achieving this, BIOCORE will provide a major step forward.

 

 

What will be achieved by BIOCORE?

Through the transfer of R&D to pilot scale and the use of process design and simulations to generate models of an original, multiproduct biorefining scenario that will transform all lignocellulosic biomass components into fuels, chemicals, polymers and food/feed products in a flexible way, BIOCORE will constitute a vital stepping stone towards full industrialization of the 2nd generation lignocellulosic biorefining concept.

 BIOCORE will provide industrial pilot scale demonstrations of the major unit operations of the BIOCORE biorefinery, or combinations thereof. In particular, it will bring proof for the valorization of the three product streams :

  • The cellulose (C6),
  • The pentose-rich mix (C5) and
  • The lignins.

For each main product stream at least two valorisation routes are selected in order to limit the risk of not obtaining a viable biorefinery concept.

BIOCORE will combine heat and power generation of dry or semidry residues to complete the full utilisation of all raw material.

 The objectives here are to :

  • Obtain all necessary mass and energy balances in order to assess the economic feasibility
  • Determine all process design parameters in order to enable up-scaling to an industrial demonstration plant of 30 - 60  000 tons/y