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France: Demo Plant

Successful Start of Pre-Commercial Production of Isobutene from Wheat Straw

| Editor: Alexander Stark

Global Bioenergies was founded in 2008 with a unique goal – to develop a process converting renewable resources (sugar, crops, agricultural and forestry waste) into isobutene, one of the main petroleum derivatives.
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Global Bioenergies was founded in 2008 with a unique goal – to develop a process converting renewable resources (sugar, crops, agricultural and forestry waste) into isobutene, one of the main petroleum derivatives. (Source: Global Bioenergies)

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Global Bioenergies started the initial processing of wheat straw hydrolysate provided by its partner Clariant at its Leuna demo plant, to produce cellulosic isobutene for the first time at this scale. These first runs were part of Optisochem, a project which started in June 2017 and was granted approx. $ 11 million by the Bio Based Industry Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU) as part of the H2020 program.

Evry/France — The aim of the project is to demonstrate a new value chain combining Global Bioenergies bio-Isobutene process with technologies developed by Clariant and Ineos: currently underutilized residual wheat straw has been converted at demo scale into second generation renewable bio-isobutene, and will eventually be transformed into oligomers and polymers usable in lubricants, rubbers, cosmetics, solvents, plastics, or fuels applications. The R&D cooperation will continue until May 2021. The project focuses on the demonstration of a new value chain, based on the combination of the technologies and know-how of the participants from four EU member states:

  • Conversion of straw into glucose- and xylose-rich hydrolysates by Clariant sunliquid technology (Germany),
  • Fermentation of the straw hydrolysates into bio-isobutene by Global Bioenergies (France and Germany),
  • Conversion of bio-isobutene into oligomers and polymers by Ineos (Germany and France),
  • Preliminary engineering of an hydrolysate-to-isobutene plant and overall integration with a straw-to-hydrolysate plant, by Technip FMC and IPSB (France), and
  • Assessment of the sustainability and environmental benefits by the Energy Institute at the JKU Linz (Austria).

The BBI-JU, a public-private partnership between the European Union and the Bio-Industries Consortium (BIC), is dedicated to realizing the European bio-economy potential, turning biological residues and wastes into greener everyday products through innovative technologies and bio-refineries expected to become the heart of the bio-economy.

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