Towards a novel and sustainable biorefinery concept based on green technologies for main commercial grain crop residues

Publishable summary: 

The BIOCODE project aims to develop highvalue extraction compounds (e.g. protein, oil, waxes, and carotenoids), cellulose and hemicellulose products (nanocelluloses, soluble cellulosic macromolecules, sugars and lactic acid) and lignin based (biochar, soil additives, chemicals) from main commercial grain crop residues (corn, rapeseed and wheat costreams).

A sequential fractionation concept based on extraction pretreatment (fractionation of minor components) followed by hydrothermal destructuration (fractionation of major components) will be developed and integrated with conversion techniques based on lactic acid production (hemicellulose valorisation), deep eutectic solvents (cellulose valorisation) and hydrothermal carbonisation (lignin valorisation). The concept is envisioned to enable flexible and multifeedstock processing in smallscale units which can be integrated e.g. with bioethanol or pulp mills.

Specific objectives: The specific objectives of the BIOCODE are i) to characterize and evaluate feasibility of corn, rapeseed and wheat costreams as feedstocks for the developed fractionation and valorization concept ii) to develop supercritical CO2 (ScCO2) extraction pretreatment to fractionate intermediate products (protein, oil, waxes, and carotenoids) from corn, rapeseed, and wheat costreams iii) to investigate cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin fractionation via hydrothermal destructuration and valorisation of hemicellulose sugars using a ermentation to L(+) lactic acid iv) to investigate conversion of fractionated cellulose to nanocelluloses, fibres and soluble macromolecules using deep eutectic solvent (DES) v ) to develop hydrothermal carbonisation (HTC) of lignin fraction vi) to conduct holistic sustainability and cost evaluation of developed concept to enhance the productisation, commercialisation and market uptake of the concept.

Expected results: The project will result in a proofofconcept for the developed holistic fractionation and valorisation technique in labscale. During the project, technical feasibility of different process steps, i.e. supercritical CO2 extraction of intermediates, fractionation of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin using hydrothermal destructuration, conversion of cellulose using deep eutectic solvents, conversion of hemicellulose to lactic acid and hydrothermal carbonisation of lignin are addressed. Moreover, the suitability of corn, rapeseed and wheat costream as feedstocks for the developed concept will be evaluated. Holistic sustainability and cost evaluation of developed concept is also provided. Project will plan next steps to develop and demonstrate the concept in largerscale. Overall, these activities will target to provide new scientific information of agro residue fractionation and valorisation, and generate new business opportunities for both SMEs and large enterprises especially for farmers and crop producers, biomaterial refiners, machinery producers, and manufacturers of new bioproducts within EU and Latin America