At our CIC2023, four flagships, first-of-their-kind biorefineries, were presented. These are funded by the Biobased Industries (BBI) JU, the predecessor of the CBE JU, and are important milestones towards a circular bioeconomy. Here, companies invest millions of euros into production facilities, which run on biobased feedstock.
FARMŸNG – French SME Ÿnsect is building an insect farm, expected to ramp up in late 2023. It will produce 1,500 tonnes insect protein and 400 tonnes insect oil per month. The target market is feed for fish and poultry, as well as pet food. However, Ÿnsect is converting its previous demo plant in Dôle into a food-grade production facility to target the food market as well. Both installations also produce large amounts of insect-based fertiliser. To get the CIC participants curious about insect-based food, we asked Project JIPPY to prepare some of their Japanese-style insect-based recipes. From insect “meat”balls to matcha-insect cheesecake, these were delicious and managed to convince the brave tasters that insect-based food can become mainstream in Europe as well.
Fibenol – this spin-off from Granuul Invest, an Estonian bioenergy producer, just celebrated its 5-year anniversary. Fibenol has built a biorefinery based on hardwood biomass (co-funded via the project SWEETWOODS), which will be fully functional in 2023 and will have an annual production capacity around 8,000 t/a of different lignin grades and 20000 t/a cellulosic wood sugars.
ENOUGH – This SME is building a facility in The Netherlands, integrated with an existing grain processor and an ethanol plant, producing mycoprotein by aerobic fermentation. The initial plant, part of the PLENITUDE project, will produce 10 kilotons mycoprotein per year, with an expansion to 60 kt/a already planned.
Novamont – Almost a household name in the bioeconomy sector, Novamont has been pioneering the use of renewable feedstocks for bio-based plastics for many years. The company is however using a variety of feedstocks to produce an array of products, from bioherbicides to biolubricants, to biopolymers. It runs several biorefineries in Italy and around the world, one of the based on the flagship FIRST2RUN.
Other presentations included CLIB members Phytowelt and LXP Group. Phytowelt produces and sells its signature raspberry aroma compound and presented ideas towards a poplar-based biorefinery. LXP Group plans to upscale its demo plant to a first commercial plant, taking a range of 2G biomass to produce cellulose and lignin. To help such companies reach scale, Bavaria is planning to build an open access pilot facility in Straubing, the BioCampus MultiPilot, which was also presented. ALTANA/BYK is a chemical company with a wide range of products, aiming to be climate neutral by 2025. For this ambitious goal, they are also turning to biotechnology to produce novel intermediates or additives. At FH Aachen, and at lab scale, a team of scientists is devising pathways to use bioresidues to produce hydrogen and other secondary products.
Rounding out this day, Michael Brandkamp from ECBF told the audience that the bioeconomy will increase exponentially in impact – a process we will most likely only recognise once it has happened, like the digital revolution of the past decade. On this high note, and with the videos of biorefineries taking shape in concrete and steel still in their minds, participants of the CIC2023 left with new ideas and networks – to continue their trip to industrial implementation.