Page 56 - European Energy Innovation - Spring 2017 publication
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56  Spring 2017 European Energy Innovation


Valorisation of lignocellulosic
biomass side streams for
sustainable production of
chemicals, materials & fuels
using low environmental impact
technologies – A COST network

By Dr Rafael Luque, Chair of this COST network

In the dawn of the 21st century,           transformation of such residues.          researches from all over Europe and
      scientists have been prompted to                                               interconnecting different technology
      seek alternative feedstocks and      This opportunity arose thanks to          hubs which aim to convert residues into
      resources for the production of      the funding from the European             valuable products (waste-to-wealth).
 materials, fuels and chemicals using low  “Cooperation in Science and
 environmental impact technologies and     Technology” programme (COST), which       For the last two and a half years, the
 greener methodologies. Lignocellulosic    enables the creation of a unique, highly  Action’s achievements have been
 residues such as forestry waste,          skillful, multidisciplinary and solid     numerous and significant. More than
 branches and related agricultural         European network. This COST Action        50 European groups (150 active
 products, can constitute a highly         was created with the aim of providing     participants) from 31 countries, plus
 promising (and currently largely under-   a range of innovative approaches to       six international partner countries
 utilised) feedstock with significant      add value to lignocellulosic residues.    (New Zealand, Hong Kong, Colombia,
 potential to be converted into useful     In particular, the focus is set on        Argentina and USA) with diverse
 end products. However, a joint            hemicelluloses and lignin fractions from  backgrounds such as chemistry,
 multidisciplinary effort from several     the pulp and paper industry to produce    physics, biology, agronomy,
 disciplines including (bio)chemistry,     chemicals, materials and fuels.           engineering and other related
 biology, (bio)chemical and biological                                               disciplines, have actively participated in
 engineering, forest products sciences,    Since its start in May 2014, the COST     all activities of the Action. The network
 as well as environmental sciences and     Action FP1306 has been able to bridge     was divided into four working groups
 experts in economic assessment, in        gaps between academic disciplines in      to allow for scientific discussion. There
 liaison with industry, is required to     academia and industry. It has done so     were also several multidisciplinary sub-
 appropriately address the efficient       by bringing together expertise from       groups targeted at the scientific and
                                                                                     technological advances on the field
                                                                                     and further initiatives in the EU arena
                                                                                     were developed.

                                                                                     The synergies created during the
                                                                                     meetings, workshops, short-term scientific
                                                                                     missions and training schools, have led
                                                                                     to the design and study of improved and
                                                                                     new methodologies for lignocellulose
                                                                                     pretreatment, as well as to the valorisation
                                                                                     of the carbohydrate (hemicellulose,
                                                                                     cellulose) and lignin streams via
                                                                                     chemo- and bio-catalytic routes.

                                                                                     In addition to the targeted research
                                                                                     and technology innovation, activities

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