Mittwoch, 20. Oktober 2021 | 09:30 - 10:00

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New value chains from renewable resources: bioaromatics a...

Title:«New value chains from renewable resources: bioaromatics a basis for circular biomaterials» Dr. Ludo Diels, Antwerp University, VITO, Processes4Planet, Belgium, Ludo.diels@vito.be

The chemical industry produces the basic materials for many of the products in our modern society. Climate change challenges the industry toward more sustainable production methods and the use of sustainable feedstocks. Speaking about sustainable or circular feedstock we can refer to the Renewable Carbon Initiative (1) defining it as carbon coming from CO2, from recycling and biomass. It starts by recycling as much as possible carbon from the used materials and gradually replacing the fossil virgin input into the system by CO2-based (maybe limited) and certainly by a large amount of bio-based. The immediate replacement of all fossil-carbon by bio-carbon will not be possible due to lack of available biomass and the need to avoid harvesting more than sustainably allowed. But bio-based carbon can be harvested every year. Once it enters into the recycling system it will stay as a sink and the gradual replacement of fossil-carbon by bio-carbon will perfectly be possible.  

Biomass offers the opportunity to produce carbon-based materials via new value chains. These bio-based materials can be designed either to be biodegradable, either to be recyclable, either to be both. Many polyester-based materials as PLA, PHA, … are designed to be biodegradable. Such materials can be used as mulching films in agriculture (to be ploughed in the soil after use), or in packaging of food waste (to be composted or even better anaerobically digested after use together with the food left overs). Needless to say that cellulose-based systems (i.e. paper based) can also be used in this combination with food, with a potential to be transformed after use into the renewable energy source biogas.

On the other hand it is important to keep as much as possible carbon, taken from the atmosphere via plants, into the new materials as a sink. In order to allow this, a recycling approach is appropriate. Recycling and especially chemical recycling can strongly make use of aromatic-based polymers as PET, PEF, PS, ABS etc. The production of aromatic polymers from biological origin can start from sugars via fermentation or furan chemistry. The direct use of aromatics can be done as well from the most abundant aromatic source in nature being lignin. Lignin is a residue from pulp and paper industry, but also from 2G-ethanol production known as hydrolysis lignin. Up to recently it was only used as energy source. Nowadays several approaches are possible to use lignin in different materials applications.

These applications rely on the use of lignin as such or on the depolymerisation of the lignin into monomers, oligomers and small polymers. Depending on the application all or not a depolymerisation step will be needed. Several applications of lignin as binder in concrete, in asphalt etc are already respectively commercial or under development. The depolymerisation however makes the use of it more reliable and very attractive towards polymers as PET, polyurethanes, resins, anti-oxidants, dispersants, anti-microbial, UV-resistance molecules, cross-linkers etc. The massive use of it will allow to open up the further development of new materials, including composites, into very performing materials that will be fully bio-based and with high adapted recycling potential. This will open the door to full use of carbon-based materials in packaging, automotive, construction etc. with full potential to recycling and keeping atmospheric carbon into a material sink without adding any extra carbon into the atmosphere, but, on the contrary, sucking carbon from the atmosphere into our materials stock.
The presentation will give some teasers to open the box of this new sustainable approach.  

 

References:  
[1]   https://renewable-carbon-initiative.com

 

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