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The biobased economy (BBE) centres on the use of vegetable and animal biomass for non-food applications (materials, chemicals, energy and biofuels). One particularly promising area for the Netherlands is the use of residual flows from horticulture, livestock farming, agriculture and the food industry.

From Waste to Resource (W2R)

The W2R program aims to develop processes for an industry integrated production of resources from waste. The research program is constructed around microbial cultures for conversion of organic residues to valuable products. In the first step water soluble volatile fatty acids are liberated from complex organic material by microbial conversion of the biomass constituents. In a second step, the volatile fatty acids are converted to end‐products like biopolymers or methane containing biogas.

Successful development of biopolymer production from waste requires a multidisciplinary approach involving upstream biopolymer production as well as downstream product recovery and effective application of the polymer produced. The W2R program aims at facilitating such an integrated approach to establish implementation in industry of the processes proposed.

Algae Production And Research Centre (AlgaePARC)

Aquatic biomass is an interesting material for biorefining and an important addition to the existing biomass supply. Algae and seaweed have a unique composition consisting of a broad range of valuable components such as oils, fatty acids, proteins and sugars, which makes them extremely suitable for biorefining.

In contrast with land-based biomass, much remains unknown about aquatic biomass. The utilisation of this potential requires further advances in the field of production technology, conversion technology and logistical chains. The Algae Production and Research Centre (AlgaePARC) carries out flexible research pilots at the Wageningen Campus. Supplementing the fundamental research that is already taking place, these pilots generate more knowledge about large-scale algae production.

Bio-based, Ecologically Balanced Sustainable Industrial Chemistry (BE-Basic)

The BE-Basic programme is dedicated to the production of biobased chemicals, materials and energy with the aid of biotechnology. It is a partnership between universities, research institutes and industry. A Bioprocess Pilot Facility is being set up for the development, testing and large-scale demonstration of technology.

Biobased Performance Materials (BPM)

The BPM programme is aimed at the development of new, high added value biopolymers. This includes developing new materials by utilising natural functional properties, such as reduced toxicity, antimicrobial properties and self-healing or cleansing properties.

The programme has 3 priorities:

  • Technological properties of materials
  • Formation of new business consortiums from end link to raw material supplier
  • Assessment of the sustainability of new biobased materials via LCA analyses.

Catalysis for Sustainable Chemicals from Biomass (Catchbio)

Catchbio is a research programme focusing on the catalytic conversion of biomass into valuable components such as fuels, chemicals and pharmaceutical products.

The programme brings together a large number of partners, including universities, research institutes and industry as well as SMEs. The research is essentially fundamental, but also has a strong focus on practical applications through the close cooperation with industry.

Integration of Biosynthesis & Organic Synthesis (IBOS)

The IBOS programme is aimed at bringing about strategic change in the synthetic chemical sector through the integration of existing chemical methods and new molecular biology technologies.

The IBOS programme involves close cooperation between knowledge institutions and industry in the following areas of research:

  • Molecular biology and biosynthesis
  • Biotransformations
  • Bio-organic synthesis

Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT)

The ISPT (formerly the Dutch Separation Technology Institute DSTI) is a partnership between the process industry and knowledge institutions and is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

This strategic alliance, which already comprises 50 businesses and 10 knowledge institutions, aims to encourage the development of a sustainable process industry. The programme comprises both fundamental and applied research in various fields including separation technology.

Polymer Innovation Programme (PIP)

The Polymer Innovation Programme has the ambition to mobilise the Dutch Polymer community in order to give a strong impulse to quality of life, sustainability and economic growth.

The Polymer Innovation Programme largely consists of the public private research programme called DPI Value Centre (see below under top technology institutes).

Top Technology Institutes

During the 1990s virtual institutes were set up to promote the cooperation between knowledge institutions and businesses in key areas for the economy and society.

In 1997 four top institutes were launched in the field of food, metals, polymers and telematics; the Netherlands is currently home to the following institutes:

DPI Value Centre Dutch Polymer Institute Long-term polymer research
M2i Materials innovation institute Applied metal materials research
TIFN TI Food and Nutrition Food and health food
TI Pharma Top Institute Pharma Development of medicines
CTMM Center for Translational Molecular Medicine Molecular medicine
Wetsus TTI Watertechnologie Water
TTI GG TTI Groene Genetica Crop improvement and plant diseases
TI BMM BioMedicals Materials Biomedical materials

The top institutes are funded by the government, industry and universities. The studies provide answers to fundamental strategic questions from the business community. The DPI Value Centre and Wetsus are of particular importance for the BBE.

Towards Biosolar Cells (TBSC)

The purpose of this research programme is to develop knowledge on solar cells based on primary photosynthetic processes, ultimately leading to sustainable energy applications. This programme is a combined effort of universities, businesses, top institutes and the NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research). Towards Biosolar Cells pursues three tracks of development:

  • Optimisation of photosynthesis in plants to boost the production of biomass per hectare of land.
  • Large-scale cultivation of micro-organisms for the production of biofuels, such as the production of butanol from cyanobacteria
  • The technical replication of photosynthesis. Physicists and biologists team up to produce artificial leaves that generate energy from solar light and CO2 in the same way as plants. With these artificial leaves, it may be possible to make solar cells that produce hydrogen or syngas instead of electricity.

The Volatile Fatty Acid Platform

This programme is aimed at the development of a Volatile Fatty Acids (VFA) platform for the production of green products from biomass waste flows. The ambition of this programme is to increase the understanding of the VFA production process and develop new processes for the recovery and conversion of these VFA into bio-based products.

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