The cross-border project BIO-HArT, acronym in Dutch for “Biorizon Innovation and Upscaling of Renewable Aromatics Technology”, was set out in 2016 to scale up technology for the production of bio-aromatics from biomass, focusing specifically on woody biomass sources. By the end of 2018 this must result in functioning bench-scale demonstrators and optimized processes with which samples can be provided to the industry on a kilogram scale.

By demonstrating the technology within this project on a larger scale, the confidence in the applicability of the technology on an industrial scale increases and the risk to invest diminishes. Simultaneously bio-aromatics will be produced in sufficient quantities to be able to start application development routes.

Mid-term results

By mid 2017 several key milestones have been achieved illustrating already some of the successes of BIO-HArT:

1.    Protocols are established for bio-refining of several raw materials like Miscanthus, corn straw, flaxstraw, into sugars and lignin.  

2.    Protocols (reaction conditions, processes, etc.) have been established and optimized for the conversion of wood, lignin and sugar fractions into target aromatic compounds.

3.    Pilot installations have been established along the complete chain for the bio-refinery of biomass, conversion and fractionation of obtained lignin and sugar fractions to aromatic compounds, in specific the following installations:
-   4 pilot installations for the bio-refining of lignocellulosic materials into sugars and lignin.
-   A 2L reactor for the direct catalytic conversion of wood to a mixture of alkylfenols (the so-called “Lignin-first” technology). This reactor will be used to further optimize the reaction on kg scale and for the delivery of samples for evaluation in application.
-   Two continuous process installations that perform several of the key reactions in the Diels-Alder approach from sugar based starting materials (Furans) towards aromatic compounds. BIO-HArT is now able to meet requests from companies for samples on multi-kg scale.
-   A mini-pilot for a mobile nano-filtration unit for the 1) fractionation / purification of the alkylfenol mixture from the Lignin-first process and 2) the fractionation from the Crude Lignin Oil obtained from a catalytic depolymerization process.

4.    Samples of several aromatic compounds / fractions have been provided on 100g – 1kg scale for evaluation of their quality in a range of applications like coatings, resins, adhesives, lubricants, polyesters, and polyurethane applications.