Biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the dependence on transportation fuels derived from finite petroleum sources. The development of biofuels from sustainable feedstocks is improving Europe’s fuel security and supports achieving the EU’s objective of having 10% of transport fuel deriving from renewable sources by 2020.
However, conventional, first generation biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) exhibit a number of limitations relating to their sustainability, high production costs, performance properties and incompatibility with existing infrastructures. More advanced biofuels (such as biobutanol), based on sustainable feedstocks and highly efficient production processes, have the potential to overcome these limitations.
Biobutanol is an exciting alternative to first generation biofuels due to its chemical characteristics, making it more fuel efficient and suitable for use in gasoline engines without the need for modification. However, due to the inefficiencies and costs associated with the current production process, biobutanol is yet to gain market establishment.
The ButaNexT project will develop highly efficient production processes and convert sustainable feedstocks for the next generation of biobutanol. This will contribute to overcoming the current challenges and limitations exhibited by the first generation of biofuels.
The ButaNexT consortium is a multi-disciplinary team comprised of SMEs, a large company and research centres from Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. The team aspires to optimise each stage of the biobutanol production value chain: biomass pre-treatment, fermentation, downstream processing and blending.
It is expected that ButaNexT will realise significant reductions in both production costs (up to 50%, to attain price-parity with first generation biofuels) and carbon emissions (up to 85%) compared with fossil fuels (gasoline). Moreover, the project will work on maximising the biobutanol conversion yields from selected lignocellulosic feedstocks such as wheat straw, miscanthus and the organic fraction of Municipal Solid Waste.
Green Biologics is the project Coordinator and expert in fermentation (microorganism and technology development) and butanol commercialization.
Tecnicas Reunidas is a general contractor. TR´s Proprietary Technology Division specialises in technology development and optimisation. Tecnicas Reunidas will provide the mechanical pretreatment prototype and will be involved in the pilot plant set-up and operation.
CENER is the scientific coordinator and expert in biochemical conversion of biomass. CENER will mainly be involved in the process integration and scale-up at pilot scale.
MetGen is expert in enzyme development and optimisation. Their main role will be to design and develop strains to produce tailor made enzymatic cocktails that will boost the hydrolysis efficiency of the targeted pretreated feedstocks.
C-TECH will lead all exploitation activities, ensuring market uptake for the most promising innovations of the project.
UCLM is expert in biofuels blending, performance and final use (engines). UCLM will lead the work on the optimisation of biobutanol blends.
VITO is an expert in In Situ Product Recovery and downstream processing. VITO will be involved in the development and validation of the fermentation process. VITO will provide the pilot pervaporation unit and will contribute to the pilot plant set-up.
E4tech is an international strategic consultancy focused on sustainable energy and will lead the techno-economic analysis and environmental and social impact assessments for the integrated ButaNexT process.
ZIC expert in innovation support. ZIC will manage all administrative and financial aspects of the project, and will also be involved in dissemination and communication activities.
G!E expert group dedicated to supporting eco-innovation. G!E will lead all project dissemination and communication activities.