• Biomass Research
    Current Celignis Projects

Background


We believe that, in the bioeconomy, if you stand still you end up being left behind. Celignis was born from pioneering research and we are still passionately committed to playing our part in advancing the bioeconomy.

As a result we are 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.

Our current projects are listed below:

UNRAVEL


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 will run 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. Intial studies have shown that this pre-extraction is particularly effective in increasing the homogeneity of the feedstock composition and the purity of biorefinery products.

Celignis will also work 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.

A range of residual feedstocks, including forestry residues (e.g. bark) and agricultural residues such as wheat straw and nutshells, will be tested. The potential availability of these residues is substantial with estimates of around 180 Mton per year for the EU-27. The UNRAVEL project will take these second generation biomass feedstocks as point of departure for valorisation not only as biofuels for transport, but also as chemicals and high-value lignin applications in building materials.

The high ambition and innovative character of the UNRAVEL project is underpinned by the fact that all conversion steps of the biomass into valuable products will be demonstrated at pilot-scale in an industrially relevant environment. For example, the optimised biomass fractionation and conversion technologies pilot fractionation experiments will be performed in a 400 litre reactor, which will guarantee the viability of novel processes for future applications at industrial scale.


UNRAVEL has 10 project partners, as listed below:

Partner Type Country
1 Fraunhofer (coordinator) RTO Germany
2 ECN (part of TNO) RTO The Netherlands
3 Celignis SME Ireland
4 MetGen SME Finland
5 Soprema Large Enterprise France
6 IFEU SME Germany
7 EURIDA Natural Person Germany
8 CNRS RTO France
9 Sappi Europe Large Enterprise Belgium
10 Max-Planck RTO Germany


For further information on UNRAVEL, please refer to the project website, its page on the BBI website, and its Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages.

BIOrescue


Celignis is currently participating in a collaborative EU research project, entitled BIOrescue, that is part-funded by the Biomass Based Industries Joint Undertaking of Horizon 2020. This project evaluates ways to valorise the compost residues from mushroom production. Celignis's roles in BIOrescue include 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.


BIOrescue has 10 project partners, as listed below:

Partner Type Country
1 CENER (coordinator) RTO Spain
2 Monaghan Mushrooms Large Enterprise Ireland
3 UNINA University Italy
4 MetGen SME Finland
5 Zabala Innovation Consulting SME Spain
6 Greenovate Europe SME Belgium
7 Max Planck Institute of Polymer Research RTO Germany
8 Celignis SME Ireland
9 Imperial College of London University UK
10 C-TECH Innovation SME UK


BIOrescue runs from Sept 2016 to August 2019 and has a budget of €3.7m. Please refer to the project's website for further information.

Summary of the BIOrescue process

Video on the BIOrescue project



Video on Celignis's BIOrescue Algorithms



ENABLING

ENABLING is a coordinating and supporting action funded by the H2020-RUR-2017-1 call of the European Union's Horizon 2020 programme.

The title of the project is an acronym that stands for 'Enhance New Approaches in BioBased Local Innovation Networks for Growth'. The focus of the project is on supporting the spreading of best practices and innovation in the provision (production, pre-processing) of biomass for the Bio-Based Industry (BBI).


Celignis will play a key role in the project with regards to stressing the importance of biomass composition in terms of evaluating feedstock and technology suitability. Over the course of the project we will also be contacting a number of stakeholders, both in Ireland and overseas, and will be involved in the organisation of a number of networking events.


Celignis is one of 16 partners in the project, with the coordinator being ITABIA, the Italian Biomass Association. All project partners are listed below:

Partner Type Country
1 ITABIA (coordinator) RTO Italy
2 Tinada Srl Natural Person Italy
3 Federunacoma SME Italy
4 Innovatiesteunpunt VZW RTO Belgium
5 Vestlandsforsking RTO Norway
6 Celignis SME Ireland
7 European Centre for Renewable Energy RTO Austria
8 BgBiom RTO Bulgaria
9 Collison & Associates SME UK
10 ZLTO SME The Netherlands
11 Core Innovation Natural Person Greece
12 Wirelessinfo RTO Czech Republic
13 MIGAL RTO Israel
14 ACTIA RTO France
15 Euknow SME Belgium
16 EPC SME Germany


For further information on ENABLING, please refer to the project website and its Twitter page.

Celignis Pitches for Future Research


We believe that we can make valuable contributions to research projects covering a large number of areas and disciplines related to the bioeconomy, based on our expertise in:

Compositional Analysis

As detailed throughout this website, 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 and a large variety of functional molecules many of which have large future potential in substituing for the use of fossil fuels in the production of consumer and industrial products.

Chemometrics

In particular regarding the developments of algorithms for the rapid compositional analysis of feedstocks and process outputs. Our expertise in chemometrics is a key part of our involvement in our 3 current BBI projects. However, good chemometric methods and personnel in themselves are not sufficient to produce accurate models and outputs that have real commercial and practical application potentials. The reference data that are used are also of crucial importance. In undertaking detailed compositional analysis in the laboratory and then using these data as inputs to our chemometric tools, Celignis provides full vertical integration regarding advancing the art in rapid biomass analysis and the utilisation of biorefinery data.

Use of Enzymes

We have significant experience in the enzymatic hydrolysis of biomass and the products of biomass pretreatmnent and conversion. We currently provide a range of enzymatic hydrolysis packages that can be used to evaluate the digestibility of biomass and the activities of enzymes. These current techniques can be utilised in BBI projects or we can undertake larger-scale enzymatic hydrolysis experiments. For example, in August 2019 we will be starting a new research project, funded by the Irish government, which involves the development of enzyme cocktails for feedstocks relevant to the anaerobic digestion sector.

enzymatic hydrolysis expertise at Celignis

Biomass Pretreatment

Based on our bioprocessing and compositional expertise, we have a very good understanding of how to optimisebiomass pretreatment processes. For our clients we have analysed hundreds of samples of outputs from biomass pretreatment processes. We 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 ongoing BBI 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 BBI project BIOrescue we are also analysing the solid and liquid outputs of biomass pretreatment and are developing rapid analysis models for them using near infrared spectroscopy.

Fermentation Inhibitors

Chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis of biomass releases sugars that can be converted to chemicals and fuels through microbial or biochemical processes. However, because of the recalcitrant nature of biomass, severe pretreatment/hydrolysis conditions are often used to release the sugars which can result in the formation of microbial inhibitors (acids, furfurals, phenolics etc.). These inhibitors may inhibit either microbial growth or fermentation or both. Hence, it is important to test the enzymatic hydrolysate of pretreated biomass for fermentability and, if necessary, design strategies to selectively remove inhibitors from the hydrolysate. Our personnel have experience in improving the fermentation by either selectively adapting the microbes to inhibitors or by the detoxification of the hydrolysate. Inhibition kinetics and limits can also be determined for the selected microbial strain.

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. 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.

Anaerobic Digestion

We have 60 reactors for undertaking biomethane potential analysis of feedstocks and process outputs to evaluate their suitability for producing bioga through anaerobic digestion. This could be an important means of valorising residual process streams or, based on our expertise in fermentation, we can tune the process towards high value organic acids production. We also have a range of analysis packages available for evaluating the quality of the digestate from AD and its suitability for a range of applications.


Click here to see our pitches for specific roles in some of the BBI 2019 topics.



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