Biomass fractionation

The main objective in the field of biomass fractionation is to establish processes for a biomass biorefinery in Germany and throughout Europe. The focus is on wood digestion and fractionation processes, alternative processing lines for oilseeds, as well as their scaling and transfer to pilot scale.

In the biomass fractionation field we develop new technologies and innovative processes for the processing of wood and oilseeds in order to enable the holistic use of biomass, increase added value and obtain high-priced end products.

Lignocellulose biorefinery

The focus of the lignocellulose biorefinery is on the pulping of raw materials containing lignocellulose and their fractionation into their basic chemical components lignin and sugars or fibers. To investigate and develop processing and fractionation technologies an integrated pilot plant is available that permits pulping using organic solvents under pressure and temperature, the so-called Organosolv technique.

The facility models a large number of individual process steps for manufacturing fibers, concentrated sugar solutions and lignin. Up to 70 kg of wood can be processed every day. The facility was designed in such a way that the substance and energy cycles form closed systems and can therefore be completely balanced.

In addition to the Organosolv process, the universal design of the pilot plant also enables other pulping methods for lignocellulose to be optimized on the pilot scale, for example aqueous hydrolysis, pulping by means of acid or the soda process. Comprehensive analytics are available for balancing the processes. Questions in the area of thermal separation technology and extraction can also be answered using individual process-technological units in the plant. Here there is a strong interaction with the field of competence “Downstream Processing”.

Oilseeds biorefinery

The oilseeds biorefinery at Fraunhofer CBP aims at the development and optimization of alternative methods for the processing of oilseeds. New processes will enable the holistic utilization of raw materials and provide higher quality product fractions compared to conventional industrial processing. In addition to the production of high-quality vegetable oils, the processing of protein-rich fractions in particular contributes to increasing the value chain. In addition, alternative extraction processes are used to extract other valuable plant ingredients from oilseeds.

At Fraunhofer CBP, new processes for processing oilseeds are being transferred from laboratory to pilot scale. Various facilities are available at the site for this purpose. From 2020, the pilot plants for peeling and ethanol extraction of rapeseed will be put into operation. A rapeseed biorefinery will be used to demonstrate a new process from seed peeling and subsequent disruption to the processing of valuable vegetable product fractions.
The flexible design of the pilot plants makes it possible to test and optimise various methods for processing oilseeds. The focus is on the future integration of alternative oilseed processing lines into the existing infrastructure of existing oil mills. The development of novel processes will not only lead to new products but also to the potential for worldwide marketing of innovative processes and plants.

Reference Projects

EthaNa – Piloting the Ethanolic Native Extraction of Peeled Rapeseed

Duration: September 2017 – August 2020

Fraunhofer CBP is researching new processes for the treatment of rapeseed. In the “EthanNa” project, cell disruption and recovery of valuable materials are carried out with ethanol instead of the usual solvents. In this way, the quality of the products rapeseed oil and rapeseed concentrate is expected to be significantly increased. In addition, the project also aims to isolate novel recoverable substances that previously could not be obtained from rapeseed. The project's objective is the establishment of a pilot plant at the Leuna site.

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UNRAVEL – UNique Refinery Approach to Valorise European Lignocellulosics

Duration: June 2018 – May 2022 

The UNRAVEL project aims to develop advanced pre-treatment, separation and conversion technologies for complex lignocellulosic biomass. The technology relies on pre-extraction, fractionation using low-temperature acetone and subsequent downstream processing to isolate and convert the lignocellulosic constituents into high-value applications. This will produce usable lignin fragments and monomeric sugars from the cellulose along with a hemicellulose fraction suitable for biochemical conversions.  

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GreenCarbon – Advanced Carbon Materials from Biowaste: Sustainable Pathways to Drive Innovative Green Technologies

Duration: October 2016 – December 2020

GreenCarbon is a project funded by the European Union in the framework of the H2020 Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions – Innovative Training Networks. GreenCarbon provides career development and training opportunities for 14 researchers who are in the first 4 years of their research careers (Early-Stage Researchers, ESRs). The research programme focusses on the production of carbon materials on the basis of renewable resources to further develop them as catalysts or adsorbent materials for high-performance applications.

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ERIFORE – Research Infrastructure for Circular Forest Bioeconomy

Duration: January 2016 – January 2018

ERIFORE is an infrastructure development project under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union. The aim is to establish an open access research infrastructure to facilitate the development of technologies enabling research and commercialization of new value added products from forest biomass.

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Extension of the Organosolv pilot plant

Duration: March 2016 – September 2019

The planned conversion and expansion measures concern the further development and optimization of the Organosolv process with the aim of increasing the economic efficiency of the overall process and transferring the plant concept into a demonstration plant.

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SteamBio – Flexible Superheated Steam Torrefaction and Grinding of Indigenous Biomass from Remote Rural Sources to Produce Stable Densified Feedstocks for Chemical and Energy Applications

Duration: February 2015 – July 2018

The project “SteamBio”, which is coordinated by Fraunhofer IGB, aims to provide stable, densified feedstock for the process industries by upgrading lignocellulosic biomass (e.g. agro-forestry residues from remote rural sources) through a flexible superheated steam torrefaction and grinding process mounted on mobile units.

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Lignocellulose biorefinery

Duration: May 2010 – April 2013

Rising prices for raw materials and the increasing scarcity of mineral oil resources are boosting the interest in renewable resources and in strategies for the sustainable production of special materials, fine chemicals or platform chemicals. Emulating the concept from the petrochemical industry these biobased materials will in future be made available by biorefineries. Native hardwoods offer themselves as a chemical feedstock that is available sustainably and without competing with foodstuff production. For the conversion of wood or lignocellulose into platform chemicals for the chemical industry of the future, the wood first of all has to be broken down and separated into its basic chemical components.

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