The province of Noord-Brabant, TNO, ECN and the Flemish VITO are jointly investing €10 million in the development of bio-aromatics: sustainable raw materials for the chemical industry. Shared Research Center Biorizon will use the funds to finance various projects designed to bring the ultimate aim closer: enabling the commercial production of bio-aromatics for industry in 2025. The four parties made this announcement in Antwerp during Biorizon's annual event.
Biorizon plans to use the financing to accelerate the development of bio-aromatics. Together with industry, Biorizon is developing technologies for extracting aromatics from vegetal residual and other streams. In this way, Biorizon is keen to offer the chemical and supply industry an alternative that is both profitable and sustainable to extracting raw materials from petroleum. Potentially this offers scope for replacing 40% of all chemicals.
During the event, Bert Pauli, vice governor for Economic Affairs and Internationalisation for the province of Noord-Brabant, calls the industry to more open innovation: “The province plans to use the investment to stimulate the sector to share more knowledge and to involve the SME sector in research and development. In this way, we are anchoring the biobased sector firmly in Brabant and connecting up the Green Chemistry Campus, where Biorizon is located, Nieuw Prinsenland and the Moerdijk port and industrial area. This boosts employment in the region and over the long term, the competitive strength of industry throughout the Netherlands.”
Investment of millions acts as flywheel
The province of Noord-Brabant is investing 5 million euros up to 2020 and TNO, ECN and VITO are investing another 5 million in total. This investment is intended to act as a flywheel to connect companies and other stakeholders over many years to one or more of the Biorizon research lines. These horizons are:
- Thermochemical conversion of biomass into aromatics led by ECN
- From sugars to aromatics led by TNO
- From lignin, which gives wood its stiffness, to aromatics led by VITO
Revenue arising from participation by companies will subsequently be invested in part by Biorizon in the research program. In this way we are building the ecosystem in a future-proof manner.
Invitation to industry to participate
More than 200 companies are currently members of the Biorizon Community, several dozen of which are participating in projects, to which they are also contributing financially. One example is the very successful Waste2Aromatics project. Here, valuable raw materials for the chemical industry are being produced from waste such as GFT, nappies, sieved material and manure. Or the comprehensive and cross-border BIO-HArT project focusing on the upscaling of aromatics from local biomass. In this last-mentioned project a call is open to industry to test small quantities of bio-aromatics in products like plastics and coatings. Various companies have already responded to this call and are very enthusiastic about the unique and often unexpected functionalities of bio-aromatics.