Feedback from RRB 2014

20 Jun 2014 Comments 0

This is a jotting down of interesting things from the RRB 2014 conference. Mainly for personal use, but also to spread the knowledge love.


10th edition of the Renewable Resources and Biorefineries conference :

Valladolid, Spain.


  • EU biorefinery definition, presented by Timoteo de la Fuente:

A biorefinery is characterised as an explicitly integrative, multifunctional overall concept that uses bio mass as a diverse source of raw materials for the sustainable generation of a spectrum of different intermediates and products (chemicals, materials and bioenergy/fuels) whilst including the fullest possible use of all raw material components.

Co-products can also be food or feed. These objectives necessitate the integration of a range of different methods and technologies.

The biorefinery process chain consists essentially of the pre-treatment and preparation of biomass, as well as the separation of biomass components (primary refining) and subsequent conversion and processing steps (secondary conversion).

Reference: (Germany)


  • A very good conclusion from poster 38, on Seaweed Biorefineries, by Paulien Harmsen et al, from Wageningen, that can be applied to biorefineries in general:

Many initiatives of seaweed valorisation focus on fermentation of the whole seaweed to low-value energy carriers such as biogas or ethanol. It will be more sustainable to produce high value-added products from seaweeds and use residual fractions for conversion to biogas or other energy-carriers.


Interesting people:

Christian Stevens - RRB organiser, academic

Richard Wool, U of Delaware engineer, biomaterials entrepreneur

Stefaan de Wildeman - biobased building blocks

Eric Beckman - engineer, medical biotech entrepreneur

Christian Kabbe - phosphate recycling

Angela Manas - Veolia, wastewater treatment innovation

Nicolas Béfort - PhD student, Economics of doubly green chemistry

More info on the interesting people:

Stefaan presentation (from another conference)

Stefaan de Wildeman

Richard Wool


Crey Bioresins, Dixon Chemicals, Texas

Crey Bioresins, Inc. develops and manufactures bio-based polymers from renewable raw materials. The company utilizes soy oil and other natural feedstocks to develop thermosetting resins that can be processed using conventional methods. Crey Bioresins is pursuing this technology with commercial partners and will be expanding its efforts into various markets.

Christian Kabbe


For the implementation to market, new technologies need to be proven capable and feasible. Within P-REX, novel and available technical solutions for phosphorus recovery and recycling will be demonstrated in full-scale.

Angela Manas

Veolia env VERI. - broken link? creativ'ERU project (2011-2014) - confidential reports that are interesting

Nicolas Béfort - PhD student, Economics of doubly green chemistry

Presentation title:

Biorefineries and the Bioeconomy in search of business models


Interesting points (which I am still chewing through)

There is a lasting variety of productive heritages : Two philosophies of chemistry and four productive heritages:

  • “Intensive deconstruction“ pathways (typical of oil industry, although conceptually well-mastered by petrochemists), consisting of:
    • PH1–Extensive thermal deconstruction to C1–C6 syngas FDC,HMF, Thermo chemical transformation of biomass into syngas and reforming.
    • PH2 - Biotechnological Extensive deconstruction to C2 – C10 EtOH, PLA, PHA Enzymatic transformation of biomass into small molecules, synthons, building blocks (for chemiosynthetic polymers e.g. PLA PHA)
  • Moderate “destructuring" pathways (i.e. : which preserve the functional properties contained in complexity of living organisms).
    • PH3 - Limited chemical modification of extracted C5 – C30. Use of naturally occurring synthons (e.g. modified fatty acids for polymers)
    • PH4 - Limited deconstruction and transformations Cx – Cn Use of plant components complexity using innovative technologies (e.g. reactive extrusion, modif. Starch, whole plant process)




These are important in how they interact. Each productive heritage claims its own use of some of the 12 Green Chemistry principles. Each PH seeks to enforce its own green identity, and the economic dimension contributes to enforce this lasting variety: Scientific competition, but satisfaction of specific needs, and complementarities of market niches

Béfort is gracious to say there are no miraculous solutions, but two systemic learning pathways, but I see a lot of tension, what he calls 'Exploratory dynamics' between the historical actors (or macro actors: Agro-industry, paper, petrochem, chem industries) and new actors (knowledge-based firms: start-ups).


His conclusions, in the four dimensions for a systemic analysis:

  1. Economic dimension:
    Green economy needs new green products and not only a greening of the existing products
  2. Technological dimension:
    Portfolio of solutions and pertinent recombination are more important than one leading technology
  3. Social dimension:
    Biofuel-based biorefineries with unsustainable scale-up ? Are non—biofuels-biorefineries possible ? adaptation to specificities of local resources and small scale production?
  4. Scientific Dimension:
    Transformation into small molecules to obtain versatile building-block or Using the complexity of renewable material?

Websites and groups doing interesting work (plus a short description) - confidential reports that are interesting (DSM? Biobased building block) stefaan de wildeman. Also publication coming end of the year.


Veolia env VERI. - broken link? creativ'ERU project (2011-2014) - confidential reports that are interesting



Corbion ( old: DSM) - confidiential reports that are interesting

BioVale (York)

Insert your text here.

The existing 2ndgeneration biorefineries utilize less than 20% of the biomass feedstock for ethanol production, and major side-streams are produced such as pentose and lignin waste streams, that are respectively used for biogas and energy production.

Converting the carbon from these waste streams into added-value products would increase the otherwise low profitability and improve the environmental benefits of the biorefineries. The suggested project BioREFINE-2G aims at developing commercially attractive processes for efficient conversion of pentose-rich side-streams from biorefineries into dicarboxylic acids, which can be used as precursors for bio-based polymers including biodegradable polymers.

European Sustainable Phosphorus Platform (ESPP)

Sustainable management of Phosphorus is crucial for agriculture, food, industry, water and the environment. ESPP brings together companies and stakeholders to address the Phosphorus Challenge and its opportunities...

On Twitter: Phosphorus platform: @phosphorusfacts

The Biorefine project aims to provide innovative strategies for the recycling of inorganic chemicals from agro- and bio-industry waste streams. It wants to maximally close nutrient cycles by minimizing residue flows and economically valorizing the minerals that can be recovered from these residue flows.

Biotrend carries out research and develops in-house projects aiming at the production of bio-based chemicals, materials and fuels from renewable raw materials. We cover process development aspects from strain screening to fermentation optimization, process integration, intensification, de-risking and scale-up.

The future of the biobased economy begins in Central Germany: Partners from industry and research are working on the foundations of the material and energetic use of non-food biomass.

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