Viernes, 02 Julio 2021 11:40

HUGS PROJECT | New "Lives" Sought for Waste Generated by Biorefinery Processes

New "Lives" Sought for Waste Generated by Biorefinery Processes. New "Lives" Sought for Waste Generated by Biorefinery Processes.

The HUGS project, based on the concept of the Circular Economy, sought to provide an outlet for two secondary products produced in large quantities during the manufacture of 'bioplastic'

Companies are increasingly interested in employing sustainable processes. Thus, the initiative to research new and environmentally friendly techniques is arising from the corporations directly involved. An example is the company Avantium (Holland), a pioneer in the emerging renewable and sustainable chemistry industry. Over the last few years it has been developing a new bioplastic called PEF (polyethylene-furanoate), a renewable product synthesized from biomass

The production of this material generates two by-products that have no added value. : methyl levulinate and humins, residues that generally have little interest or market value. In this context, the HUGS research project, in which the University of Córdoba participated, sought to recover and exploit these two secondary products that Avantium generates in large quantities in lignocellulosic biorefinery processes.

The two forms of waste constituted a dual challenge, explained Rafael Luque, the researcher in charge of the project at the UCO. "With the humins we had to understand their chemical composition, because there was no clear structure of the polymer. We were able to propose a typical structure and from there, to valorise it to various chemical compounds with high added value."

Specifically, the NANOVAL group, responsible for the project at the UCO, has been working with different types of biomass and waste for more than ten years in order to identify their value, design strategies for their integral recovery, and to generate production lines related to concepts applied to industry and companies.

The role of the research team, precisely, has been to understand the composition contained in the waste generated by Avantium and, from there, design a strategy to furnish it with added value from a chemical and technological point of view, and manage a potential implementation of this type of process at an industrial level.

From an applied point of view, explains Professor Luque, the project provides a solution not only for this company, but also for others in the paper industry. In fact, as a result of the project, a couple of patents licensed by the Avantium company were registered, currently in the process of commercialization. Both patents are associated with two processes that were identified as the most important of all those developed within the framework of the project.

The HUGS project - “Humins as Green and Sustainable precursors of eco-friendly building blocks and materials” (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2015-675325) is funded by the European Union through the H2020-MSCA-ITN-2015 call.

"This report is part of the project “CONSOLIDA-UCO ECT2020-000810", funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 and by European Union “NextGenerationEU”/PRTR”.




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