• Bioprocess Research
    Collaborative Projects
    At Celignis Biomass Lab


Celignis is a company that was launched to commercialise the research innovations, related to advances in the state-of-the-art in biomass analysis methods, made by its founder Daniel Hayes during his PhD. Specifically, Celignis was born from a collaborate research project, called DIBANET, written by Daniel Hayes, coordinated by the University of Limerick (where he undertook his PhD), and involving 12 other project partners from Europe and Latin America.

DIBANET was a bioprocess development project focused on the development of an acid-catalysed hydrolysis process for the production of levulinic acid and furfural from lignocellulosic biomass. Celignis was launched shortly after DIBANET was completed and since then we have particpated in many other collaborative reseach projects focused on bioprocess development. Celignis has undertaken many different roles in these proejcts, including in the analysis of the feedstocks and process streams and in the development of specific nodes of the bioprocess value-chain.

Current Hot Topics in Bioprocess Research

Valorisation of Challenging Feedstocks

The challenges in processing lignocellulosic materials are large and complex, but significant advances have been made in recent decades. In many cases the most significant advances have been made for the less-challenging lignocellulosic feedstocks, for example certain types of woods and agricultural residues which are primarily composed of the main components of interest for valorisation (e.g. cellulose and hemicellulose).

However, many lignocellulosic feedstocks can also contain other constituents (such as extractives or particularly reclacitrant forms of lignin) that can significantly reduce the efficiencies and commercial-viabilities of bioprocesses. This is unfortunate since these types of feedstocks are often highly abundant and available at low, or zero, cost.

Hence, there has been a particular focus in recent years on the development of bioprocesses that are flexible to different types of biomass feedstocks, including those that have historically been difficult to valorise. In some cases, a suitable approach can be to undertake methods of extraction and/or pretreatment that can help to normalise such problematic feedstocks so that their subsequent processing can proceed in a similar way to less challenging feedstocks.

Production of Novel Biobased Products

Historically, research projects focused on the development of bioprocesses for lignocellulosic feedstocks have focused on a relatively narrow range of target products. These typically include biofuels (e.g. ethanol, butanol etc.) and a number of conventional biobased platform chemicals (e.g. lactic acid, succinic acid etc.).

The recent shift in focus to electic-vehicles and for replacing fossil-derived platform chemicals with biobased alternatives has meant that the target products of bioprocesses are also shifting. There is now increased interest in the synthesis of novel chemicals from biomass as well as in the direct utilisation, or modification, of the main lignocellulose polymers ( cellulose, hemciellulose, lignin) rather than breaking these apart and valorising their monomeric constituents.

The production of novel chemicals, polymers, and materials from biomass will require innovations in the methods by which the feedstocks are processed and in the downstream conversion technologies (chemical and biological) employed.

Consolidation of Process Nodes

Bioprocesses can often involve multiple stages across the entire value chain, starting from the initial handling of the feedstock to the final separation and purification stages for the targeted product(s). Each additional stage of a bioprocess can lead to an increased cost (CAPEX and OPEX) and complexity of the process. An ideal bioprocess would minimise the number of stages without compromising on the yield and quality of the outputs.

Hence, there is currently much research on how steps can be consolidated into a single process (e.g. one reactor), reducing the complexity of the bioprocess. One example of this would be the target of consolidated-bioprocessing technologies for the biological processing of lignocellulosic biomass, whereby three separate stages (enzyme production, hydrolysis, and fermentation) all occur in the same reactor using the same microorganism.

Bioprocess reseaarch is also examining ways in which the energy and chemicals requirements across different steps of the bioprocess can be shared/conserved, allowing for reduced OPEX and improved process efficiencies.

Improved Process Efficiencies

Innovations in reactor design and the engineering of biological systems can lead to signficant improvements in the efficiency of a process in many different ways. For example, reactor systems capable of handling higher solid-loadings would potentially allow for the final products to be obtained in higher titres, reducing the energy, consumable, and capital costs associated with product recovery.

On the biological side, there are still signficiant advances to be made with regards to the development of microbial/enzyme systems for the efficient degradation of lignocellulosic biomass where such activities are not hindered by the complexity of the lignocellulose matrix or the presence of difficult biomass components (e.g. extractives). Improvements made here would reduce the need for the extensive, costly, pretreatment of the feedstock.

Viable Small-Scale Processes

Many bioprocesses require economies-of-scale to be economically viable. For example, several of the commercial-scale lignocellulose to bioethanol biorefineries that were built in the USA, using both the biological and thermochemical platforms, required the processing of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of feedstock in order to produce biofuels at a price that would allow the facilities to provide a return on their capital investments.

The requirement for large-scale facilities represents a significant hurdle that can be hard to overcome when trying to develop a commercial bioprocess. Hence, in recent years there has been a focus on developing bioprocesses that could be commercially-viable at much smaller scales. Such facilities would be much easier to fund and would also allow for the more widespread proliferation of bioprocesses focused on community-level needs.

Achieving this target can be met in several ways, for example through the development of novel process configurations that would allow the target products to competitively produced at the small-scale or by focusing on much higher-value products that would not need to compete with mass-produced existing alternatives (e.g. bioethanol from first generation feedstocks).

Improved Biobased Contents

Despite the huge advances that have been made in recent years regarding the production of biobased chemicals and biomaterials, there are still many products that are primarily reliant on fossil-fuels for their production. For example, to date it has been extremely challenging to produce paints and coatings that are primarily biobased.

Hence, another imperative of current bioprocess research regards the development of processes that can produce chemicals and materials that are currently sourced from non-renewable resources. Doing so would allow for improved biobased contents in many consumer and industrial products.

There are many potential ways, covering both the chemical, biological, and thermochemical platforms, by which these aims can be achieved but they mostly all involve the development of new or improved downstream conversion steps that transform and/or combine the primary products of the bioprocess into derivatives that have enhanced properties suitable for the targeted application markets.

How Celignis Can Assist in Bioprocess Research Projects

Celignis is currently active in a number of important research projects looking to advance the state of the art in the utilisation of biomass for the production of biobased products, fuels, and energy. These projects are funded by a number of schemes, including the European Union's Horizon Europe programme, the Circular Bioeconomy Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE-JU) (Celignis is a member of the Biobased Industries Consortium (BIC) steering committee for the CBE), and local national programmes. Bioprocess development is a key component of several of these projects, and was also component in a number of our now completed research projects.

Below we list some of the areas in which we can contribute as a collaborative partner in research projects that involve the development, optimisation, and demonstration of bioprocesses.

Compositional Analysis

The Celignis team are highly experienced in a wide array of methods for the compositional analysis of biomass and process intermediates and outputs/residues for lignocellulosic and thermal properties. Our expertise also extends to seaweed, algae, and a large variety of functional molecules many of which have large future potential in substituting for the use of fossil fuels in the production of consumer and industrial products.

We have an wide array of equipment that allow us to obtain the required compositional data, including an extensive chromatography laboratory that includes state-of-the-art equipment, such as our QTOF-LC/MS system. Our in depth understanding of the steps involved in the processing of biomass also allow us to bring forward suggestions to other partners in the consortium, based on the analytical data we obtain, on how the project's technologies can be improved.

Related Projects

Fermentation Optimisation

Microbial conversion of sugars to chemicals and fuels is considered advantageous over chemical processes, but is a challenging area due to the high number of variables involved in the process. Fermentation process development involves: selection of microbes to produce the desired product, screening of microbes, media engineering, process optimisation, scale-up, downstream designing, etc. Screening and optimisation involve hundreds of runs which is labour and time intensive. Know-how in the area of microbiology, bioprocess engineering and design of experiments (DOE) can significantly reduce the number of experimental runs and time involved in the preliminary screening and optimisation process.

With our CIO Lalitha and our Bioanalysis Developer Sajna we have the expertise and knowledge to optimise fermentation processes for high yield and productivity in short-time. Our personnel have proven scientific record in producing enzymes, biofuels, biosurfactants, exopolysaccharides and prebiotics through aerobic and anaerobic fermentation processes.

Celignis also has numerous bioreactors, ranging from 1 litre to 100 litres capacity, that allow us to undertake an extensive DoE approach in optimising fermentations.

Related Publications

Modification of Polysaccharides

An efficient extraction process is only one component in developing value-added products from polysaccharides. In many cases further treatment of the polymer is required in order to confer the physical and chemical properties that are required for the desired application/market. Such properties that can be influences with these modifications include the the rheology and water-resistance of the polymers.

At Celignis we also have extensive experience in such modifications using both enzymatic and chemical approaches. For example, in the Horizon Europe project EnXylaScope we are active in the discovery and application of enzymes for the debranching of xylan and for its subsequent modification for additional functionalities. In the CBE/BBI project PERFECOAT the focus is on the chemical modification of xylan in order to enhance its properties for application as a binder in paints and coatings.

In PERFECOAT we are also working on the extraction and modification of chitosan, from prawn shells, whilst we have also internally worked on processes focused on the extraction and modification of pectin. Additionally, as outlined in the video below, we have developed processes for the modification of seaweed-derived alginate to confer the desired physicochemical properties.

Related Projects

Biomass Pretreatment and Fractionation

Based on our bioprocessing and compositional expertise, we have a very good understanding of how to optimise biomass pretreatment processes. We also have a very strong understanding of the chemistry of biomass and how to evaluate the conversion and valorisation of the main constituents of lignocellulosic biomass (cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin). We target mass-closure in our analysis so that the full mechanisms of conversion can be understood and we have a suite of analytical methods to characterise process liquids for monomers, oligomers, sugar degradation products, and fermentability. Our CBE project UNRAVEL concerns the development of a pretreatment process and Celignis plays a key role in the project regarding the analysis of the products of pre-treatment and by investigating the influence of extractives in biomass pretreatment. In our completed BBI project BIOrescue we also analysed the solid and liquid outputs of biomass pretreatment and developed rapid analysis models for them using near infrared spectroscopy.

Related Projects

Anaerobic Digestion and Fermentation

We have years of experience in various types of anaerobic fermentation and anaerobic digestion for the production of chemicals and fuels. The team has knowledge and experience in isolation and handling of Clostridial strains and clostridial fermentations for the production of hydrogen, organic acids and solvents. Celignis's CIO Lalitha Gottumukkala has published several articles in the area of Clostridial fermentation, especially for biobutanol. Celignis’s AD expert Kwame has optimised the process for sequential production of bioethanol and biogas from paper sludge as part of his Process Engineering Research Masters in Stellenbosch University, South Africa and has published articles on the same.

Celignis also provides services for biomethane potential (BMP) determination; anaerobic toxicity assays; specific hydrolytic, acidogenic and methanogenic potential using its 90 1L anaerobic digestion reactors. Celignis has also the reactor set-up for continuous anaerobic digestion and sequential continuous anaerobic digestion that allows two stage and multi-stage digestion. Additionally, the Celignis team also has strong expertise in the valorisation and treatment of food industry effluent streams and is providing consultancy for three years for the operation of high-rate digesters that process 60 m3/h of dairy industry waste streams. This expertise is of particular value in EU projects where zero-pollution is the process target.

Related Projects

Discovery and Use of Enzymes

Our team has years of experience in discovery and use of enzymes for deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass and, with Celignis participation in EU projects like EnXylaScope, this experience is expanded to enzymes useful for modification of polysaccharides obtained from lignocellulosic biomass.

The discovery of enzymes needs rapid analysis methods and, by understanding the action of enzymes and the changes that occur in the substrate, the Celignis team can develop simple high-throughput screening methods for the discovery of enzymes. This is currently being undertaking in EnXylaScope for side-chain acting enzymes.

Celignis is also discovering enzymes and designing enzyme cocktails for lignocellulose deconstruction aiming at production of monomeric and oligomeric sugars and for generating clean lignin for lignin valorisation purposes. We are also isolating the microbes that have the ability to produce a cocktail of enzymes for increasing the productivity and yields of biogas from complex recalcitrant streams such as late cut grass, wheat straw and garden waste.

Celignis follows traditional methods in enzyme screening allowing the isolation of natural enzyme producers which means that enzyme cocktails developed by Celignis are non-recombinant in nature. The enzymes discovered are studied for various characteristics such as nature of protein (Molecular weight, hydrophobicity); kinetics (reaction and inhibition); optimum reaction conditions etc. Celignis has a collection of close to 100 strains capable of producing a range of enzymes that act on a variety of substrates.

Related Projects

Identification, Extraction, and Purification of High Value Chemicals in Biomass

Biomass valorisation can involve much more than the processing of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. Non-structural components of the plant can also be of value, in some cases being worth thousands of Euros per kilogramme.

At Celignis, we can play important roles at all stages in the valorisation of such compounds, starting from their identification and ending in their purification and the testing and modification of their functional and chemical properties. For identification, we firstly get a crude extract from the feedstock, obtained via various approaches, including pressurised liquid extraction. This extract is then profiled using our top-range QTOF-LC/MS system (Agilent iFunnel 6550), which can identify constituents to the femtogram-level, and the spectra and chromatograms reviewed by Sajna, our Bioanalysis Developer. We then determine which constituents warrant extraction and then work on optimising a targeted extraction method. This method considers not only the yield of the target compound(s) but also the chemical and energy costs of the process and the implications for the downstream processing and valorisation of the solid residue, evaluated by Oscar, our technoeconomics analysis (TEA) expert. We subsequently work on the isolation and purification of the targeted compound(s) from this extract, again considering the commercial and scale-up implications.

Our high-value-chemicals expertise is of particular value for improving the competitiveness of a bioprocess, through employing the principle of the cascading use of biomass. For example, a relatively minor component of biomass can substantially improve the financial viability of a technology if it can be sold at a high price.

Related Projects

Real-Time Analysis of Feedstocks and Process Outputs

We have extensive expertise in the development of algorithms and models for rapidly predicting the composition of samples using their near infrared spectra. This allows the time for analysis (for detailed lignocellulosic compositional paramaters) to be reduced from weeks to seconds. To date we have tens of thousands of biomass samples in our proprietary models for lignocellulosic composition and we have also developed custom models for feedstocks and pretreatment/bioprocess outputs in the CBE-JU/BBI-JU RIA projects BIOrescue and UNRAVEL. In BIOrescue we developed custom software, employing a browser interface for the user, that allowed us to tailor the model-generation and composition-prediction experience to the requirements of our lab personnel and in-house chemometricians. This software also employed advanced chemometric techniques that we proved, in project deliverables, to deliver improved accuracies in prediction over the conventional PLS approaches.

This software is constantly being improved and, in the ongoing CBE-JU/BBI-JU Innovation Action (TRL7) project VAMOS we are deploying an upgraded version of it at the demo-scale biorefinery being built and operated by project partner Fiberight. This has allowed us to extend the reach of our predictive models beyond our own laboratories and into the global biorefinery landscape. We see many opportunities, within the current CBE-JU topics, to apply and refine this at-line analysis system to other IA (demo) projects as well as for Flagship projects. In addition, we also plan for the deployment of in-line analyses, using Celignis-developed models, using the latest state-of-the-art and cost-effective hardware on the market.

Related Projects

Current Research Projects Involving Celignis and Bioprocess Development

"Mining Microbes and Developing Advanced Production Platforms for Novel Enzymes To Rapidly Unleash Xylans Potential In a Scope Of Products For the Consumer Market"

ProgrammeHorizon Europe, FNR-16-2020
CategoryResearch and Innovation Action (RIA)
Period2021 - 2025
LinksCordis, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook
Enxylascope is a project, thought and written by Celignis, with multiple focus areas to achieve consumer products free of liquid plastics derived from fossil fuel resources. The project has several novel elements, with a strong commercial focus. The novelty starts with the discovery of novel xylan side chain acting enzymes and extends to their application to develop novel xylan based products.

Celignis is involved in the isolation of natural isolates that have the ability to produce multiple sidechain-acting enzymes of interest by adaptive culture enrichment process. Additionally, Celignis is the leader of WP4, being responsible for the extraction of water-soluble xylan and its conversion it to water insoluble forms with high water holding capacity using the enzymes developed in the project. The target is that the modified xylan is used as an alternative for liquid plastics that are used as rheology modifiers in personal care and cosmetics products.

Celignis is also undertakeing the full-length techno-economic analysis (TEA) of the process.

Get more info...EnXylaScope

"High Performance Bio-based Functional Coatings for Wood and Decorative Applications"

ProgrammeCBE-JU, Horizon Europe, BBI-2020-SO3-R5
CategoryResearch and Innovation Action (RIA)
Period2021 - 2024
LinksWebsite, Cordis, CBE-JU
PERFECOAT aims to develop paint and coating formulations with more than 25% biobased content with these divided into polysaccharides, lipids, and pigments. The project addresses three important markets for coatings: (i) high-volume, UV-curable clear coatings; (ii) waterborne trim paints for DIY; and (iii) waterborne wall paints.

The project is linking the industrial biotechnology sector to the paint and coating sector, as the biobased products developed in the project are microbially or biomass derived and modified using microbially derived enzymes. The project integrates chemical approaches with biochemical approaches to achieve the final superior quality product. The polysaccharides are both chemically and enzymatically modified separately or sequentially to obtain unique functionalities.

Celignis is involved in extracting xylan and chitin from terrestrial and aquatic biomass respectively and modifying them chemically and enzymatically to produce water based and UV-curable coatings. The modification involves: hydrolysing to obtain desired molecular weight polysaccharides; grafting chemical groups (chemical and enzymatic means) on to xylan, chitosan, and alginate to produce UV-curable binders; and grafting chemical groups to convert water soluble polysaccharides to water resistant forms.

Get more info...PERFECOAT

"Value Added Materials from Organic Waste Sugars"

ProgrammeCBE-JU, Horizon Europe, BBI.2018.SO2.D3
CategoryInnovation Action (IA)
Period2019 - 2023
LinksWebsite, Cordis, CBE-JU, Twitter
VAMOS is based on the Fiberight process for the valorisation of municipal solid waste to produce lactic acid. Celignis plays a key role in the project with regards to the analysis of the solid fractions at a number of stages in the process. Our initial work focuses on the development of rapid analysis models, using near infrared spectroscopy equipment located in our labs, that allow the composition of the material to be predicted based solely on the NIR spectra collected from it. This allows the analysis time to be reduced from weeks to seconds, an approach we have successfully demonstrated to date in other BBI projects (BIOrescue and UNRAVEL) at the RIA (up to TRL-5) level for both feedstocks and process outputs.

Excitingly, VAMOS gives Celignis the opportunity to demonstrate its NIR models at a higher TRL level (TRL-7). As part of this we will install similar NIR equipment within the demo plant (which is expected to be located in the UK) and set up customised software that will allow plant operators, with no technical expertise in NIR or chemometrics, to routinely analyse the inputs and outputs of the process.

Get more info...VAMOS

"Innovative Large-Scale Production of Affordable Clean Burning Solid Biofuel and Water in Southern Africa: Transforming Bush Encroachment from a Problem into a Secure and Sustainable Energy Source"

ProgrammeHorizon Europe, LC-GD-2-3-2020
CategoryInnovation Action (IA)
Period2021 - 2024
LinksWebsite, Cordis, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
This project addresses the problems experienced with bush encroachment in a number of southern African countries by using this biomass as a feedstock for a steam torrefaction process, developed in SteamBio (an earlier EU-funded project). Their are two main outputs of this process, a solid material which has improved properties, with regards to its use as a clean-burning fuel, over the original biomass, and a liquid condensate containing volatile components removed from the biomass during torrefaction.

Celignis is an important analytical partner in the project, undertaking detailed compositional analyses of the feedstocks and process outputs as well as providing guidance and SOPs to the local partners for routine analyses (e.g. for proximate, ultimate, and calorific value analysis). Additionally, Celignis is the main partner responsible for the analysis of the liquid condensate fraction and for the evaluation of suitable applications and markets for it. This is expected to be a complex mixture of degradation products, particularly those coming from the extractives and hemciellulose fractions of the biomass. The profiling of this liquid stream will involve use of our extensive range of chromatography equipment, particularly our Agilent iFunnel 6550 QTOF-LC/MS device. Following this detailed analysis we will then consider which components within the liquid are of value and will consider applications for these (either in crude or refined forms) and will work on techniques for separation and purification.

Get more info...SteamBioAfrica

"Diversifying Revenue in Rural Africa through Circular, Sustainable and Replicable Bio-based Solutions and Business Models"

ProgrammeHorizon Europe, CE-SFS-36-2020
CategoryResearch and Innovation Action (RIA)
Period2021 - 2025
LinksWebsite, Cordis, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
BIO4Africa focuses on the demonstration of sustainable, circular solutions and business models, suitable for African countries, based on the valorisation of a variety of local feedstocks.

Celignis is an important partner in the project, having a key role early-on with regards to the compositional analysis and evaluation of a wide variety of different local feedstocks. These data allowed decisions to be made with regards to which feedstocks were suitable for which technologies leading to a subset of feedstocks being selected for processing. The project's technologies include: pyrolysis (for biochar production); hydrothermal carbonisation; and a green-biorefinery (the GRASSA process).

After matching feedstocks with technology, samples will be sent to the European technology providers where initial tests will determine how these feedstocks behave. Following these trials arrangements will be made for the equipment to be shipped to Africa where the technologies will be deployed at a number of locations, processing locally-available biomass. Celignis will also play an important role in the project at these stages, being responsible for the analysis of the outputs (e.g. biochar, HTC char, press-cake, etc.) of the various technologies.

Get more info...BIO4Africa

Previous Research Projects Involving Celignis and Bioprocess Development

"The Production of Sustainable Diesel-Miscible-Biofuels from the Residues and Wastes of Europe and Latin America"

ProgrammeHorizon Europe, FP7.ENERGY.2008.3.2.1
CategoryResearch and Innovation Action (RIA)
Period2009 - 2013
LinksWebsite, Cordis
DIBANET, involved collaborative research between 13 partners from Europe and Latin America to develop biorefining technologies for the production of advanced biofuels. It targeted levulinic acid (a valuable platform chemical), from cellulose and hexose sugars, and of furfural (a valuable solvent and fuel precursor), from hemicellulose-dervied pentose sugars such as xylose. The process employed acid-hydrolysis, at elevated temperatures and pressures, to hydrolyse the polsyaccharides and produce the targeted molecules. The project also involved the development of a novel pre-treatment process, employing formic acid and hydrogen peroxide. The solid residues that were retained after hydrolysis were pyrolysed and gasified in order to produce energy.

Dan's primary scientific role in the project was in WP2 where he led efforts to generate algorithms for the rapid prediction of biomass composition based on the near infrared spectra of samples. Particular focuses for model development in DIBANET were the feedstocks Miscanthus (highly suitable for European climates) and sugarcane bagasse (a highly abundant fibrous residue in Brazil).

The development of the rapid biomass analysis models in DIBANET resulted in Dan spinning-out Celignis in 2014.

Get more info...DIBANET

"Enhanced Bioconversion of Agricultural Residues through Cascading Use"

ProgrammeCBE-JU, Horizon Europe, BBI.R10-2015
CategoryResearch and Innovation Action (RIA)
Period2016 - 2019
LinksWebsite, Cordis, CBE-JU, Twitter
BIOrescue evaluated ways to valorise the compost residues from mushroom production. Celignis's roles in BIOrescue included the following:

- Compositional analysis of feedstocks and process intermediates and outputs.
- The development of rapid analysis models, using near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy, for compositional analysis at several stages in the process scheme.
- The scoping of additional suitable undertuilised seasonal feedstocks for co-feeding with spent mushroom compost in a proposed biorefinery based on the BIOrescue technologies.
- The development of new algorithms, using software such as Octave and R-Studio and involving advanced intelligent regression techniques, to further improve the accuracy of Celignis's NIR models.

Get more info...BIOrescue

"UNique Refinery Approach to Valorise European Lignocellulosics"

ProgrammeCBE-JU, Horizon Europe, BBI.2017.R2
CategoryResearch and Innovation Action (RIA)
Period2018 - 2022
LinksWebsite, Cordis, CBE-JU, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
The UNRAVEL project (UNique Refinery Approach to Valorise European Lignocellulosics) is funded with 3.6 million euros by the Biomass Based Industries Joint Undertaking and runs from June 2018 until May 2022.

The project addresses topic 2017.R2 of the 2017 BBI Work Programme - "Innovative technologies for the pre-treatment and serparation of lignocellulosic feedstock and complex composition streams into valuable fractions while maintaining key characteristics".

It focuses on the demonstration, at pilot-scale, of the FABIOLA pretreatment process for the production of (fine) chemicals, fuels and high-value lignin applications through an economically-feasible biorefinery concept for lignocellulosic biomass conversion.

Celignis is leader of Work Package 2 which concerns the detailed analysis of selected feedstocks, with a particular focus on extractives composition, and the optimisation of a pre-extraction process that could improve the yields and product qualities in subsequent pre-treatment. Studies showed that this pre-extraction is particularly effective in increasing the homogeneity of the feedstock composition and the purity of biorefinery products.

Celignis also worked on finding key chemicals within the extractives that may warrant separation and recovery and consider appropriate means for doing this. Our work will also involve developing a suite of NIR models for key inputs, intermediates, and outputs of the process.

Get more info...UNRAVEL

"Sequential Temperature-phased Enhanced Anaerobic digestion using Microbes and Enzymes"

Period2019 - 2022
STEAME is aimed at developing a cost-effective technology for the efficient conversion of farm-animal waste and surplus grass silage to biogas. Key innovations are developed in the areas of: pre-treatment; thermophilic semi-dry anaerobic digestion; and microbial and enzyme applications. These are expected to improve the economics of farm-based AD systems thorough increased biogas yields; avoidance of slurry storage; and production of stable class-A biosolids as a value-added product for agricultural land applications.

Get more info...STEAME

"Self-Assembling Plant-based Hydrogels Induced by Redox Enzymes"

ProgrammeHorizon Europe, INNOSUP-02-2019-2020
Period2019 - 2021
The SAPHIRE process was aimed at plant-based, environment-friendly, high-quality hydrogels for the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Such eco-friendly high quality, 100% plant-based hydrogels were targeted to be produced in an eco-friendly manner and to command a green-premium product price for the product, especially in the target markets of food, and the cosmetic and medical industries.

In the eco-friendly SAPHIRE process, enzymes help in reducing the energy and chemicals demand in the fractionation of plant biomass to xylan, cellulosem, and lignin. They also help in the controlled deconstruction of plant biomass and thereafter in the ordered assembly of xylan and nanocellulose fractions to form hydrogels with lignin monomers as cross-linking agents.

Get more info...SAPHIRE

"ALGAL biorefinery of biogas digestate to high VAlue fuNctional IngredientS through circular approachEs"

ProgrammeHorizon Europe, H2020-EU.1.3.2
CategoryMarie Curie IF
Period2020 - 2022
The ALGALVANISE project was designed to add an additional revenue stream to the biogas plants by producing high value products and reducing the disposal problems with the digestate. Digestate is rich in phosphates and nitrogen and also contains substantial amounts of organic content that is not converted to biomethane. The richness of digestate in nutrients and organic matter makes it a suitable feed for biotransformation (fungal, algal, or bacterial) to high value products.

Algal cultivation is favoured over fungal and bacterial systems for wastewater or digestate treatment due to the ability of algae to assimilate nutrients and produce high-value products including proteins, lipids and natural pigments.

In the integration of algal cultivation at an AD facility, a natural consortium of bacteria and algae can be established based on the composition of the digestate and environmental/process conditions. ALGALVANISE advanced the state-of-the art by developing a series of innovative solutions for separate applications in the biogas and algae industries as well as the best integrated solution for a biogas-algae biorefinery.

Get more info...ALGALVANISE

Additional Information on Bioprocess Development Research

Feel free to get in touch with us if you would like to discuss potential collaborations in research projects that involve bioprocess development. Relevant members of the Celignis Bioprocess team will be happy to assist. Those team members with the most experience in writing and managing relevant research projects are listed below.

Lalitha Gottumukkala

Founder of Celignis Bioprocess, CIO of Celignis


Has a deep understanding of all biological and chemical aspects of bioproceses. Has developed Celignis into a renowned provider of bioprocess development services to a global network of clients.

Oscar Bedzo

Bioprocess Project Manager & Technoeconomic Analysis Lead


A dynamic, purpose-driven chemical engineer with expertise in bioprocess development, process design, simulation and techno-economic analysis over several years in the bioeconomy sector.

Dan Hayes

Celignis CEO And Founder

PhD (Analytical Chemistry)

Dreamer and achiever. Took Celignis from a concept in a research project to being the bioeconomy's premier provider of analytical and bioprocessing expertise.

Other Celignis Services for Bioprocess Development

Global Recognition as Bioprocess Experts

Celignis provides valued services to over 1000 clients. We understand how the focus of bioprocess projects can differ between countries and have advised a global network of clients. We also have customs-exemptions for samples sent to us allowing us to quickly get to work no matter where our clients are based.

Further Info...


Biomass can be rich in bioactive compounds of high value for food, feed, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical applications. We develop bespoke extraction methods suitable for your needs with high selectivity, efficiency and low environmental impact.

Further Info...


The choice of pretreatment method varies with the type of biomass and the end-product requirements. At Celignis we can determine the most suitable pretreatment for your feedstock and determine the optimum conditions in lab-scale trials followed by higher TRL scale-ups.

Further Info...


For the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass to monomeric sugars either chemical or biological approaches can be used. At Celignis Bioprocess we can use both methods at scales ranging from flask-level to 100-litres. We have particular expertise in the optimisation of conditions for enzymatic hydrolysis.

Further Info...


Enzymes are biological catalysts that have a wide variety of applicaitons in the bioeconomy, ranging from the liberation of sugars from lignocellulosic biomass to the functionalisation of biomass-derived chemicals and materials for higher-value applications. We are experts in the design and use of enzymatic approaches.

Further Info...


Development of fermentation processes requires knowledge of an array of important factors including: biomass, the microbes used, nutrient media, and fermentation conditions. We're experienced in many fermentations and can help you determine and optimise yields of an array of different fermentation products.

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Downstream Processing

How the various outputs (solid and liquid) of a bioprocess are dealt with is often overlooked until later in bioprocess development, leading to excessive costs and complications. We consider and tackle these issues, and others such as product recovery, early-on as being integral to the bioprocess.

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Lab-Scale Optimisations

We consider that optimising a bioprocess at the lab-scale is the most cost-effective approach to explore a range of different scenarios in search of optimal process conditions. Based on the outputs of these experiments we can then test the chosen set of conditions at higher TRL levels.

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TRL Scale-Up

At our dedicated Celignis Bioprocess laboratories we have all the necessary upstream and downstream apparatus to undertake bioprocess projects up to a tehcnology readiness level (TRL) of 6, with reactor and processing capacities of up to 100 litres.

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Technoeconomic Analyses

Our technoeconomic experts can evaluate your bioprocess, considering various scale, technology, and feedstock options. We apply accurate costing models to determine CAPEX/OPEX of simulated and pilot-scale processes which are then used to determine key economic indicators (e.g. IRR, NPV).

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Biobased Chemicals

A large array of chemicals and materials are possible from biomass and wastes. These can involve chemical or biological approaches, or a combination of the two. Based on your desired end-product we can design and test the most appropriate bioprocess.

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From Process Refinements to an Entire New Process

We work closely with you to understand your objectives and timelines. We then propose a project, usually covering a series of deliverables and stage-gates. Often our projects involve optimising conditions at the lab-scale before replicating the conditions at higher TRL levels.

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