Production and deploying of high purity lignin and affordable platform chemicals through wood-based sugars
The SWEETWOODS project aims to develop a first-of-a-kind biofractionation flagship plant in Estonia that uses sustainable hardwood biomass. The process combines innovative pre-treatment technology with enzymatic solutions to provide sugar recovery levels of over 90 per cent with exceptionally high-quality lignin. Sugars and lignin can be further processed and converted to high-value biomaterials capable of replacing fossil based chemicals in a wide range of products.
The project, which uses wood processing residues as a feedstock, will lead to wood-based biomaterials being produced on an industrial scale for the first time.
The SWEETWOODS project has six core objectives. It targets to:
- Show the successful and profitable production - on an industrial scale - of high-purity lignin along with penta- and hexa-carbon carbohydrates from hardwood;
- Use all main components of the biomass feedstock while minimising any diversion of carbon content streams to low-value uses;
- Produce high-purity lignin and depolymerised lignin for a range of novel applications, namely elastomer foams for tube insulation, rigid polyurethane foam panels for insulation and polymer compounds intended for injection moulding;
- Produce high-purity sugars - glucose, fructose, xylose and glucosone - for novel end-use cases, namely producing bio-IBN, xylitol and lactic acid;
- Establish markets for lignin and novel sugar-based platform chemicals;
- Evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the SWEETWOODS plant process and of the developed products through a Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment, as well as a viability analysis.
The SWEETWOODS project expects to deliver the following main impacts.
- Establish new cross-sector interconnections in the bio-based and create new value chains between the wood-based feedstock provider to end-users downstream in the value chain;
- Establish five full new value chains based on developing under-exploited hardwood-based feedstock into value-added end-user products;
- Develop four novel bio-based materials in the areas of insulation foams, injection moulding and biofuels;
- Create a range of new bio-based consumer products including sports mats, insulation panels and replacements for plastic parts;
- Reduce waste from biorefining processes by at least 80 per cent over the current state-of-the-art.