LIBERATE is one of various Horizon 2020 projects focusing on processing of material feedstock using non-conventional energy sources (Call SPIRE02-2018). Below projects with which LIBERATE is collaborating and sharing results to maximise impact.

At the core of the SIMPLIFY project are the three case-studies, serving as representatives for process classes of high importance in the chemical industry: one in the domain of reactive extrusion (class of processes involving viscous streams), the other two in the domain of reactive crystallization (class of processes involving suspensions). Each of these case-studies is of interest to one industrial end-user in the project. These end-users are in charge of the industrial validation and demonstration on-site. The three case-studies are supported by both generic and applied research on the enabling technologies: US, MW and process control. In addition to the process technology-oriented activities, the sustainability and techno-economic improvement are investigated that can be reached by transitioning from a batch process to an US/MW-assisted continuous process. This activity supports in making technical decisions of where the processes can benefit most from US and MW activation.
The DESTINY project aims to realize a functional, green and energy saving, scalable and replicable solution, employing microwave energy for continuous material processing in energy intensive industries. The target is to develop and demonstrate a new concept of firing for granular feedstock to realize material transformation using full microwave heating as alternative energy source and complement to the existing conventional production. The DESTINY system is conceived as cellular kilns in a mobile modular plant with significant advantages in terms of resource and energy efficiency, flexibility, replicability, scalability and a reduced environmental footprint.
PERFORM is expected to reduce the environmental impact of chemical production by lowering CO2 emissions thanks to the advanced use of bio-based products and renewable energy. It will also be key to the future of sustainable society using local resources. Likewise, PERFORM and the future development of its technologies will have a deep impact on the European chemical industry and economy thanks to the based production facilities that will create high end jobs and associated positive downstream effects in the communities they are based at.

Furthermore, many projects financed by the Horizon 2020 framework programme develop solutions to value lignin. Below the ones with which LIBERATE is cooperating.

Natural resources are being exhausted due to the great demand of their services and the insufficient actions taken for their preservation. Against this background, the use of waste components from industrial activities as raw materials to obtain high value-added products is of great relevance. Lignin from pulping process is present all over Europe and represents a big source of underexploited material. There is an estimated 70 million tonnes of lignin available from pulping processes worldwide, but much of this is not isolated but burned onsite to provide steam for heat and power production. Until now only about 2% of the lignins available in the pulp and paper industry is commercially used comprising of about 1,000,000 tons/year lignosulphonates originating from sulphite pulping and 104,000 tons/year of kraft lignins produced in the kraft process

FALCON aims to convert this lignin-rich industrial waste of 2G biofuel plants to higher value products, in particular shipping fuels, fuel additives and chemical building blocks. This would be the next consecutive step in turning waste to products, thus minimizing waste and simultaneously providing new alternatives for fossil resource based processes. The FALCON process is based on enzymatic and mild chemical conversion of the lignin waste stream, providing a more environmentally friendly approach to the production of fuels and chemical building blocks. FALCON takes full advantage of the lessons learned over the last 150 years in the petrochemical industry with respect to design of the processes. This implies an initial treatment at the 2G bioethanol plant, converting the waste to a lignin oil that can be more easily transported and also directly used as a low sulphur shipping fuel. It will be further converted into fuel additives and chemical building blocks in centralized facilities.

The overall objectives are to demonstrate a new biobased, renewable and economically viable carbon fibre (CF) precursor – lignin – produced in Europe with European raw material and to develop conditions for its processing into CF and structural CF composites. The target is a cost-effective biobased CF for use in reinforced composites delivering sufficient enough strength properties for large-volume automotive applications. Reducing vehicle weight is a decisive factor for successful fulfilment of the future targets in EU regulations regarding CO2 emissions from the automotive sector. CF reinforced plastics has been introduced as a low-weight material replacing/complementing steel and aluminium.

The project aims to optimize the efficiency and increase the production capacity of this plant to up to 60,000 tons of ethanol per year, as well as to ensure a highly sustainable production process that uses co-products for renewable energy production and soil fertilization. Hence, LIGNOFLAG is supporting the EU in its efforts to reduce GHG emissions and thus accelerate the process of decarbonizing the transport sector. The project intends to establish efficient collaboration between the relevant actors along the whole value chain – from co-products utilization and valorisation (e.g. vinasse as a fertilizer) to advanced bio-ethanol production and product and technology distribution. The new full-scale sunliquid® flagship plant will also create green jobs, especially in rural areas. In doing so, a new value chain will be established and support the transformation from a fossil-based economy to a bio-based, circular economy

Europe’s position in the production of biochemicals from biomass and by-products is limited to a few compounds, while their demand is among the largest in the world. However, Europe has a lot of world leader chemical companies. On the other hand, lignocellulosic waste constitutes one of the most abundant resources without competing with food chain. REHAP’s 16 partners aim at revalorizing agricultural (wheat straw) and forestry (bark) waste through its recovery, and primary (sugars, lignin, tannins) and secondary (sugar acids, carboxylic acids, aromatics and resins) processing to turn them into novel materials, and considering Green Building as business case. The project will provide reductions in utilization of fossil resources of 80-100%, and energy utilization and CO2 emissions above 30%. Specifically, building blocks (1,4 and 2,3-Butanediol, estherpolyols), materials (PUs, phenolic resins, modified hydrolysis lignin) and products (wooden boards, insulation foams, cement, adhesive) will be obtained.

Bio-based industries are central to building a European circular economy; meanwhile, using Europe’s own biomass resources improves raw material security by reducing reliance on fossil-based feedstock imports. However, extracting higher-value compounds from lignin (a by-product of paper and pulp production), one of the most important low-cost feedstocks, is currently inefficient and expensive. The SElectiveLi project will address this challenge by using electrochemical processes that take advantage of surplus energy available via smart grids. This should reduce the cost of production as well as making it more effective and environmentally superior. Using this approach, SElectiveLi will extract a range of aldehydes for potential food, adhesive, and pharmaceutical applications and intermediates for conversion into polymers. It will also develop downstream separation and purification processes for the latter.

The objective of the SWEETWOODS project is to demonstrate on an industrial level successful and profitable production of high purity lignin as well as C5 and C6 carbohydrates from hardwood by establishing a biorefinery having throughput capacity 80 bdton/day. Unlike existing biorefinery concepts, SWEETWOODS plant utilizes all the fractions of the biomass feedstock, with min. 95 % of its initial carbon content utilised. The current TRL of the selected fractionation technology is 7, aiming to reach TRL 9 by the end of the project. The efficient fractionation and conversion of biomass is enabled by novel enzymatic solutions. The dried solid lignin and depolymerized lignin are demonstrated in novel applications, namely in elastomer foams for tube insulation, rigid polyurethane foam panels for insulation, and polymer compounds intended for injection moulding. The high purity sugars (at least glucose, xylose and fructose) are demonstrated in novel end use cases, namely in production of bio-IBN, and xylitol production. The environmental and socio-economic performance of the SWEETWOODS plant operation and the developed products are evaluated by performing a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA), as well as a viability analysis.
UNRAVEL will develop an integrated cross-sector value chain by bringing together specialists with expertise on feedstock composition, chemical pulping and pre-treatment, enzymes production, polymer chemistry, separation and reactor engineering, techno-economic and sustainability assessments and knowledge dissemination and exploitation and communication. The active involvement of three SME’s and two large enterprises, active in wood pulping and the production of lignin-based building materials, strengthens a market-driven approach and commercial exploitation and implementation of the results generated in the UNRAVEL project.
Extremophilic enzymes will also be used to valorize the latter compounds as bio-based precursors for adhesives in the manufacture of medium-density fiberboards, and as components of insulation polyurethane foams (substituting fossil building blocks), as well as for obtaining renewable sugar-based papermaking additives. WoodZymes illustrates the potential of extremozymes in the global bio-based economy, contributing to the sustainability and competitiveness of cellulose and board/polyurethane manufacture (as suggested by techno-economic and environmental analyses), and establishing a direct link between the pulp and wood industrial sectors. The feasibility of these objectives is based on a consortium from four EU countries formed by: i) four world-leading companies of the above industrial sectors; ii) a highly-active biotech SME commercializing extremophilic enzymes; and iii) four reputed research institutes of the wood, cellulose, lignin and enzymes sectors, being able to demonstrate the extremozyme-based technology at the pilot scale.