Phase I 2009 – 2012

Energy from biomass

Against the background of the formulated goals of the cluster BIORAFFINERIE2021 there are high requirements for the concepts to be developed on the way to the integrated biorefinery. These must be conceived for an economically difficult environment, must at the same time take account of the high ecological requirements and help to defuse competition for the use of agricultural raw materials.

The pursued approach has the advantage that it is based on already existing structures, namely the first generation of bioethanol production - based on oil, starch or sugar-containing raw materials - with a plant at the Zeitz site and this is first optimized step by step. Based on this, biorefinery concepts of the second generation - based on cellulosic raw materials - are being developed.

The overall project is divided into four central working modules. We are looking for procedural optimization strategies (Module I) as well as approaches for the integration of the lignocellulosic raw material into the refinery process (Module II). A third subgroup is researching the extension of material recycling of the biomass used (Module III). Finally, in an integrated overall concept (module IV) for the biorefinery of the future, all sectoral research results will be brought together and analyzed and evaluated.

Our Modules

The conversion of an existing bioethanol production plant – located in Zeitz/Saxony – into a fully integrated biorefinery based on lignocellulose has to be compatible with the goals of sustainibility. This requires economic feasibility and high ecological standards. It is also important to avoid further conflicts with food industries.

Module I – Process Optimization

Topics: Fermentation of Stillage, efficient Processes, Biogas Production

Module II – Lignocellulosic Feedstock

Topics: Separation of Lignocellulose, robust Enzymes, Production of Malate and Fumarate

Module III – High Value Products from Lignocellulose

Topics: Lignin Pyrolysis, Aromatics, Cellulose Derivates, Phenol Derivates

Module IV – Integrated Concept

Topics: Technology Screening, Dimensioning, Logistics


Phase II 2013 – 2015

Extension of the sable Biomass resources

The second phase of BIOREFINERY21 is focused on the production and analysis of lignin for the application in an everyday product.

Clever components

The partners from industry and science have identified two main elements for the development of an economically and ecologically beneficial biorefinery concept: Preparation of high-quality raw materials for the chemical industry and the efficient utilization of side product streams. The material use of the valuable substance lignin from lignocelluloses represents a useful opportunity to achieve these target:

Analysis and evaluation

A three-step approach is planned for analysis and evaluation of the production of filling materials and additives for bonding agents on the basis of lignin in the context of an integrated biorefinery:

1.- Concept Development and technical Analysis
Technical analysis of the lignin production as well as integration into a biorefinery concept in consideration of the experimental results of the optimized hot water hydrolysis with subsequent lignin pyrolysis. 
Up-scaling of the obtained results to industrial scale. 
Development of heat integration and heat supply concepts.

2.- Cost and profitability Analysis
Analysis of the developed and optimized biorefinery concepts for the material use of the lignin in bonding agents.
Comparison of the production costs of the developed bonding agent basis products and fair market values of conventional reference products.
Identification of the cost reduction potential of the bioethanol production by comparison of the material and the energetic use of the lignin.

3.- Ecological Analysis
Analysis of the developed biorefinery concepts by means of ecological criteria under consideration of the whole lifecycle.
On the basis of mass and energy balances from the technical analysis, ecological effects in the whole lifecycle are investigated and quantified by means of an eco-balance.

Phase III 2016 – 2017

The Phase III of BIOREFINERE2021 proceeds with the extension of usable biomass resources and focuses on further applications of wheat straw lignin produced by the Aquasolv process. Also, other sources of large-scale producible lignins are being considered for valorization. One of them presented itself with the addition of the new consortium partner Verbio AG, a biofuel production company, which operates a biogas plant based on the substrate straw. Since the lignin fraction of the straw cannot be degraded during the biogas production process, it is accumulated with the other fermentation residues and can be processed for further usage.

Different lignocellulosic substrates, aside from wheat straw, such as softwoods, sugarcane bagasse, rapeseed straw, are being tested with the Aquasolv process, as the lignin properties are dependent on biomass species.

It is hypothesized, that lignins isolated from other biomass possess diverging characteristics. Hence, a more diverse variation of lignins with different properties, e.g., reactivity, melt- and glass transition temperature, can provide the market with a wider spectrum of application possibilities. In that regard, chemical and/or enzymatic modification of the different lignins is another viable option, which is being currently studied. The customization of lignin properties with additional treatment measures and the initial choice of raw biomass material allow the production of tailored lignin feedstock to fulfill individual product requirements.

Simultaneous to the technological advancements of this project, techno-economic and environmental studies are conducted to determine the economic viability and environmental impact of an industrial scale Aquasolv process, which is a further step towards the realization of a highly promising biorefinery concept.