Intelligent production of resources made from lignocellulose

FFG-Programm Intelligente Produktion, FFG-Projektnummer 848600
ITACON - Itaconsäure Bioraffinerie
Vision biobased industry
On the way to a biobased future, social change moves us closer to sustainability, and products from
biobased industry establish themselves in competition. Surface area productivity goes up, and existing resources are used in the best possible way as regards all dimensions of sustainability. System integration makes synergies accessible, innovations succeed by way of cross-linking and combined technologies that make flexibility with respect to material specification, raw material and process possible.
In this way biobased industry strengthens the national economy and enhances local value creation.

(RTI strategy for biobased industry in Austria, ÖGUT 2014 – in german)

This biorefinery concept was evaluated in project „Modulare Bioraffinerie zur vollständigen stofflichen Verwertung von Lignocellulosen“ (Projekt Nr. 834297 in der FTI-Initiative „Intelligente Produktion 1. Ausschreibung“) under leading contributions of BOKU and denkstatt GmbH, and several process options were established and evaluated experimentally. In the currently active project Nr. 843687 („Produktion der Zukunft, 4. Ausschreibung“) new processes are being developed for the upgrading of lignin, as one partial material stream of lignocellulose, to adhesives and polymer gels.
The present project aims at the utilization of the carbohydrate fraction of biomass (cellulose and hemicellulose) for the production of bulk chemicals. Close collaboration with project Nr. 843687 shall enable the overall concept to utilize all fractions of biomass for material production.
The main aim of this project is the production of itaconic acid, one of the top 10 chemicals to be produced biotechnologically in future. The current market of itaconic acid is limited by high production costs. We propose solutions for two main cost factors: feedstock costs (lignocellulosic biomass is significantly cheaper than glucose) and product purifications (the planned purification process avoids byproducts, is cheaper and environmentally friendlier).
The carbohydrate and lignin fractions are separated by chemical/physical methods, and cellulose and hemicelluloses are hydrolyzed to enable the biotechnological conversion to itaconic acid. We could demonstrate the feasibility of microbial itaconic acid production from lignocellulose hydrolysate in project Nr. 834297, however substantial further research effort is needed to achieve economically feasible yields.
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