Aston University is contributing to optimising the use of biomass as
a partner in a new €13 million European biorefinery project.
The BIOSYNERGY project, sponsored by the European Commission, aims
to make biomass derived products cost competitive with fossil fuels by
developing and designing innovative biorefinery concepts. BIOSYNERGY
is a four year project, running from 1 January 2007 to 31 December
2010. The website is currently under development: www.biosynergy.eu
Despite rising petrol prices, using biomass to produce
transportation fuels, and to a lesser extent energy, is still more
expensive than using traditional petrochemical resources.
However, a biorefinery can scale-up production and efficiency while
cutting costs by making multiple products and maximising the value of
the feedstock. For example, a biorefinery could produce a number of
high value chemicals, large volumes of liquid transport fuels and use
the leftover energy to heat and power the plant. The chemicals boost
profitability, transport fuels replace some of the fossil fuels
currently on the market, and reusing excess heat and power cuts carbon
BIOSYNERGY's findings will be integrated into a
lignocellulose-to-bioethanol pilot plant currently under construction
in Salamanca, Spain. The plant will be similar to Abengoa's
Ecocarburantes bioethanol production facility in Cartagena, Spain.
Led by the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN),
BIOSYNERGY comprises 17 academic and industrial partners from across
"We're developing concepts and carrying out supporting research to
provide data to help implement a future biorefinery," said Tony
Bridgwater, Head of Aston University's Bioenergy Research Group.
Researchers will use advanced fractionation and conversion processes
for biomass and combine biochemical and thermochemical pathways to
develop the most economical and environmentally sound solutions for
large-scale bioenergy production.
Hans Reith, BIOSYNERGY Coordinator based at ECN said: "BIOSYNERGY
aims to achieve sound techno-economic process development of integrated
production of chemicals, transportation fuels and energy, from
lab-scale to pilot plant. This project will be instrumental in the
future establishment of biorefineries that can produce bulk quantities
of chemicals, fuels and energy from a wide range of biomass
BIOSYNERGY will set-up pilot plants of the most promising
technologies for a "bioethanol side-streams" biorefinery, in close
collaboration with the lignocellulose-to-bioethanol pilot-plant of
project partner Abengoa Bioenergy, currently under construction in
Aston University will lead work to identify the optimum biorefinery
based biomass-to-product chains for a future European bio-based
economy, test and characterise biomass and lignin in its fast pyrolysis
reactors, and produce a BIOSYNERGY Road Show to communicate results.