The BioSynergy Project

BIOSYNERGY works towards achieving sustainable management of Europe’s natural resources and their integration with human activities, specifically in the bioenergy, fuels and chemical industry. The project will be instrumental in the establishment of facilities for integrated co-production of bulk quantities of chemicals, fuels and energy from a range of biomass feedstocks in Europe.

Main project goals

The use of biomass as feedstock for the production of transportation fuels – and to a lesser extent energy – is still more costly than the use of fossil resources. The aim of BIOSYNERGY is to contribute to the cost-effective use of biomass –especially lignocellulose and residues– by sound techno-economic process development of integrated production of value-added chemicals, transportation fuels and energy by process development from lab-scale to demonstration at pilot-scale.

Greencell's bioethanol pilot-plant under construction at Babilafuente (Salamanca, Spain)

Abengoa's BCyL ethanol pilot-plant in Salamanca, status in 2007 (Photo: Abengoa)


BIOSYNERGY has great potential impact as it will set up pilot plants of the most promising technologies for a bioethanol side-streams biorefinery. It will do so in close collaboration with the lignocellulose-to-bioethanol pilot-plant of Abengoa Bioenergía Nuevas Tecnologías that is under construction in Salamanca, Spain.

Technical approach – major innovations

  • Advanced technologies for the physical/chemical fractionation of various biomass feedstocks (pre-treated barley straw and DDGS from the pilot-plant, and straw and clean wood as representatives of major European biomass streams) into their composing components for further downstream processing.
  • Innovative technologies for the thermo-chemical/biochemical conversion of feedstocks into biomass-derived intermediate products (e.g. butanol, phenolic oils, furfural).
  • Downstream processing of biomass-derived intermediates into value-added chemicals and energy carriers, based on integral biomass-to-products chain design, analysis and optimisation.

Project Structure / Approach

The project consists of nine, strongly integrated Work Packages.

  1. Management activities
    WP leader: Hans Reith, ECN
  2. Advanced physical/chemical fractionation
    WP leader: Robert Bakker, A&F

    Development of advanced technologies for the physical / chemical fractionation of biomass into separate fractions for further conversion into transportation fuels and added-value chemicals.
  3. Innovative thermo-chemical conversion
    WP leader: Paul de Wild, ECN
    Development of (catalytic) staged degasification and pyrolysis processes for the fractionation/ conversion of lignin and other biomass fractions into chemical intermediates and/or secondary energy carriers.
  4. Advanced biochemical conversion
    WP leader: Frédéric Monot, IFP
    Development of advanced biochemical conversion processes for the conversion of sugars and lignin into higher alcohols, platform chemicals and functional lignin derivatives; all products/intermediates with an added financial value.
  5. Innovative chemical conversion and synthesis
    WP leader: Boris Estrine, ARD
    Development of promising chemical conversion technologies for the valorisation of C5-sugars, lignin and thermo-chemical derived intermediates.
  6. Conceptual design Biorefinery pilot-plant of Abengoa Bioenergía Nuevas Tecnologías (ABNT) S.A., Salamanca, Spain
    WP leader: Reyes Capote Campos, ABNT
    Conceptual design of an innovative biorefinery plant at an existing bioethanol site (BCyL; Salamanca) owned by Abengoa Bioenergía Nuevas Tecnologías consisting of integrated physical/chemical or thermochemical fractionation processes coupled to advanced biochemical or (thermo-)chemical conversion processes for the co-production of upgraded bio-products (chemicals and/or materials), refined transportation fuels and energy (power and/or heat).
  7. Integral biomass-to- products chain design, analysis and optimisation
    WP leader: Tony Bridgwater, Aston University
    Technological, socio-economic and environmental assessments and optimizations of full biomass – refinery processes – product chains will be performed to analyze the total potential of integrated Biorefinery concepts within a future European Bio-based Economy. The use of various European representative biomass feedstocks will be analyzed in a variety of integrated biorefinery schemes, including the Biorefinery demo-plant of Abengoa (WP5) as well as the integration possibilities in conventional petrochemical oil refineries.
  8. Demonstration at pilot-scale
    WP leader: René van Ree, A&F
    Pilot-scale facilities will be used to:
    • produce market sound samples of bio-based intermediates for the lab and bench-scale technology developments.
    • scale-up of the lab and bench-scale technology developments. Scale-up and pilot-scale demonstration of technologies developed in WPs: 1, 2, 3, and 4.
  9. Training and knowledge dissemination
    WP leader: Boyan Kavalov, JRC-IE

Interrelation of the WPs
Interrelation of the WPs and their execution as function of the project development (integrated project approach)

Expected achievements

The most important results, i.e. those with great relevance towards meeting the EU programme goals are:

  • Technical, socio-economic and ecological European perspective of integrated refinery processes for the co-production of chemicals, transportation fuels and energy from biomass by performing integral biomass-to-products chain design, analysis and optimisation.
  • Lab-scale development and pilot-scale demonstration of biorefinery-based composing sub-processes, i.e.: physical/chemical fractionation processes, thermo-chemical conversion processes, biochemical conversion processes,
    and chemical conversion and synthesis processes.
  • Basic design of an innovative cellulose-ethanol based biorefinery process in which the residues are upgraded to added-value products
    (chemicals, power, CHP).
  • Proper trained persons in relevant industries, RTD institutes and universities.
  • Knowledge dissemination (website, workshops, lectures et cetera).