Biorefinery Pilot & Demo landscape

At the core of the currently existing biobased innovation system, we find a pluriformous landscape of pilot & demonstration facilities. This landscape stretches out across Europe and the rest of the world. For biobased innovators, there is a strong call for even more of such ‘steel’, lest we lose the race to capture the upcoming market for sustainable biobased products and applications.

Some of these facilities are like lighthouses pointing to biobased industrial achievement: signposts to a distant future where biorefineries will have replaced steam crackers. Some of these facilities are more akin to ship wrecks, pointing out hazardous waters of technological failure and financial ruin.

We started out this explorative study as an attempt to provide an overview of this landscape and to derive lessons learnt from past experiences.


Scoping and research questions

So-far this exploration is based on merging a combination of existing sources:

In order to bring down the set of projects to a researchable selection, a specific focus was chosen. A first inventory of projects yielded the following categories of special interest from the perspective of the AERTOS consortium:

  • Focus on shared innovation facilities
  • Focus on LC-biorefinery multi-product systems
    • Excluding oligo-chemistry and thermochemical based routes
    • Excluding dedicated ethanol/energy plants

For practical reasons, an additional delineation is to:

  • Focus on initially on plants within Europe.
  • With high TRL level (demo-scale)

The result of this scoping step are presented in Table 1 and Table 2.

Table 1: Selection of state of the art EU demonstration plants

Lenzing Lenzing, Austria Wood refinery
Zellstoff Stendal Arneburg, Germany Wood refinery
Sunila mill (Stora Enso) Kotka, Finland Wood refinery
Borregaard AS Sarpsborg, Norway Wood refinery
SEKAB / Domsjö plant Övik, Sweden Wood (primarily) refinery
Abengoa Bioenergy Multiple pilots / demo’s Agri-LC-refinery
Beta Renewables Rivalta Scrivia /  Crescentino Agri-LC-refinery

Table 2: Selection of EU shared piloting facilities

Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant Ghent, Belgium / Terneuzen, NL
Bio-economy pilot line Aalto, Finland (VTT)
Chempolis Ltd Oulu, Finland
ARD Agro-Industrie Recherches et Développements Reims, France
CBP Center for Chemical-Biotechnological Processes Leuna, Germany (hosted by Fhf)
Bio Process Pilot Facility Delft, the Netherlands
Biorefinery of the future / SEKAB Örnsköldsvik, Sweden (hosted by SP)

Guide to the reader

The upcoming blogs will attempt to look closer to these two lists of pilot facilities and demonstration plants.

Blog series 1: shared piloting facilities

Specific questions to be answered

  • What role do these shared piloting facilities play in the Eureopan biobased innovation system?
  • What are the best practices and lessons learnt with respect to these facilities?
  • How do these (combined) facilities connect to the (future) role of AERTOS RTOs?

Blog series 2: State of the art biorefinery technologies:

 Specific questions to be answered

  • What are the relevant competing technologies currently ‘out there’ in the market?
  • How are they performing in terms of:
    • Markets served
    • Underlying business case (subsidies / launching customers)
    • What are the best practices and lessons learnt with respect to these facilities?



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