Technology development for the production of functionalized biobased aromatics



In Dutch, the acronym BIO-HArT stands for 'Biorizon Innovation and Upscaling of Renewable Aromatics Technology'.​ Over the past years Biorizon has developed three commercially promising technologies for the conversion of wood, sugars and lignin into aromatics. By demonstrating the technology within this project on a larger scale, the confidence in the applicability of the technology on an industrial scale enhances and the risk to invest diminishes. Simultaneously bio-aromatics will be produced in sufficient quantities to be able to start application development routes.

Next step in industry-driven roadmap of Biorizon

This project is the next step in the industry-driven roadmap of Shared Research Center Biorizon. The BIO-HArT-project has got 3 goals:

  • Development of optimized procedures for chemistry and process.
  • Realization of generic and multi-purpose bench scale demonstrators for the 3 technologies (wood, sugars and lignin to aromatics).
  • Producing samples of sugars, lignin, furans, akylphenols, mono-, di- & tri-acids, functionalized phenols and other aromatic compounds. Subsequently, together with the industry applications will be developed on the basis of these samples.

Together with the industry the project results of BIO-HArT will be further developed and eventually they will be implemented in new value chains in which multiple feedstock suppliers, chemical companies and end users will be incorporated and in which existing and new production locations will be used.

We are involved in the BIO-HArT project in work packages 6 and 7, where we are responsible for lignin-based materials modification (WP6) and application (WP7). We closely collaborate with Eindhoven University of Technology  , University of Leuven  , University of Antwerp  , Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant  , VITO, DSM  and InSciTe  . As a result of these collaborations we received 11 samples (from 0.4 g to 300 g) of lignin and depolymerized lignin monomers and oligomers. We are currently concentrating on modifying them (if needed) and testing them in resin applications.

Our target in this field is to substitute commonly used phenol-formaldehyde resins for wood adhesive applications. Those resins are using harmful and toxic chemicals during the resin synthesis and release toxic volatiles upon curing when they are applied. That is why there is an urgent need to upgrade or even replace them. We are developing greener, more environment and user friendly alternatives for those resins. Therefore, we focus on two approaches

  • Replacement of harmful phenol by lignin based materials
  • Lignin based resins which can be cured without the release of toxic formaldehyde.

So far, we assessed the performance of the resins from the first approach and the second approach is being optimized before the application tests.

"The BIO-HArT-project is of great importance to be able to accomplish our final goal: enable commercial production of bio-aromatic by 2025", says scientific manager of Biorizon Jan Harm Urbanus.