Sugars from high-fibre waste streams become chemical components

By processing fibrous crops or waste streams in a targeted fashion, it becomes possible to develop new, green components for chemistry. Together with industrial and research partners, VITO develops new value chains based on lignocellulose.
In the Carboleum project, VITO is cooperating with KU Leuven, UGent and industrial partners Cargill, Taminco and Ecover. Through biorefining, the partners want to convert underused sugar-rich streams into renewable aminated chemicals with more beneficial properties. 

We find low-quality sugars in all fibrous crops (lignocellulose): wood, straw, grass or waste streams of, for example, sugarcane or palm oil production. Through a specific chemical conversion, aminated components for chemical products are created. A liquid detergent based on sugars derived from wood is among the possibilities. The technology has already proven its feasibility for some model sugars. In the future, project partners will determine whether this technology can also be used on high-sugar waste streams in the agricultural and food sector.

Carboleum is an initiative of the Flemish chemical industry, financed by the Flanders Innovation Hub for Sustainable Chemistry (FISCH).
 

VITO's role in the project

VITO designs and demonstrates energy-efficient processes to separate and purify the final products. During the manufacturing process, aminated components are purified from the reaction mixture by VITO's FunMem® membranes. These are ceramic membranes that can be used to separate specific molecules more efficiently.

Carboleum: facts & figures
  • Partner project with six Flemish partners
  • Duration: April 2013 - March 2015 -- The project has been extended until March 2017
  • Budget: € 1,036,462 (FISCH-grant: € 673,322) for each project period
     
Through biorefining, the partners want to convert underused sugar-rich streams into renewable aminated chemicals with more beneficial properties.