WP1 _ Follow up on activities

Under the WP1, (Selection of renewable feedstock for ABE fermentation), the following tasks have been performed:

Between two and three pretreatment methods have been proposed by ITACyl for each of the four agrofood wastes. These methods allow an equilibrium between maximal sugar release and minimal generation of fermentation inhibitors in the hydrolysates.

Common fermentation inhibitors for the four agrofood wastes have been identified by BIOPOX, TOMSA, ITACyL with GC-MS and an analytical method for inhibitor quantification by HPLC-UV has been developed. Several detoxification methods for the hydrolysates obtained have been compared.
BIOPOX and CNR-IRC have performed activities on enzymatic hydrolysis of agrofood wastes by different enzymes, as well as reactor operation conditions, which are being optimised. In addition, the new cellulosome enzymes obtained in WP2 will be evaluated soon for their ability to hydrolyse agrofood wastes.

Specifically, the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass catalyzed by cellulase cocktails is a heterogeneous process and includes several phenomena: liquid-solid mass transfer, enzymes adsorption on biomass, cellulose and hemicellulose hydrolysis. Process design asks for reliable cellulase kinetic models. Semi-mechanistic models can be used to describe the heterogeneous process. Kinetic characterization of the commercial cellulases cocktail Cellic CTec2 (Novozymes) has been carried out through three semi-mechanistic models in order to provide reliable tools for further rational design of reactors for enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass.

In particular, a study related to the kinetic characterization of the enzymatic hydrolysis is needed in order to obtain a useful tool able to maximize the sugar release depending on the composition of the pretreated biomass during enzymatic hydrolysis. A kinetic characterization of the main used commercial cocktail Cellic CTec2 on apple residues pretreated with NaOH, HCl and laccases has been carried out.

Kinetic parameters showed faster rate of hydrolysis for the samples with the lower lignin content that were obtained after alkaline pretreatment.
Alternative and cheap nutrient sources for solventogenic bacteria are being assessed by BEUTH. The suitability of these nutrients will be validated by fermenting real hydrolysates.



Agri-Food Waste Day Conference

On the 17 October, Waste2Fuels participated in the Agri-food waste day conference, co-hosted by NoAW and Agrocycle, IMG-6025both projects funded under H2020, the European Research and Innovation scheme. The aim of the conference was to bring together different stakeholders and share opinions about circular economy challenges and activites in the agri-food sector. During the event latest development in technologies and systems across the industry chain, from on-farm production systems, through retail and on to the consumer; and beyond into the bio-economy built on the agri-food ‘circular economy’. 

NoAW and Agrocycle projects presented their achievements and shared best practices, giving concrete examples of circular economy models.

Results on agricultural wastes co and by-products mapping have been presented in relation with the methodological approach adopted. Data concerning the availability of agricultural and solid wastes in EU 28 has been presented and focus has been paid mainly on food waste, solid residues used for bio-energy, Municipal organic wastes, cellulosic wastes material.

Perspectives and recommendations on steps to move further have also been suggested, highligthing the valorization potential of AWCBs, which are produced in significant quantities throughout the EU28. Conclusions were mainly focused on the need for selection of specific agricultural commodities and generation of data on smaller spatial scale as well as the focus on AWCBs from processing stage in specific sites with high availability.

The conference was a good occasion for Waste2fuels to be promoted and to create synergies and share best practices with other project addressing similar challenges.


Sustainable First and Second Generation Bioethanol for Europe

Last September, Waste2Fuels had the pleasure to participate in the Sustainable First and Second Generation Bioethanol for Europe event.

In the context of discussion on REDII, the conference provided an overview on pros and cons related to the first and the second generation of bioethanol, focusing on the GHG emission reduction and decarbonisation of transports. Joachim Lutz from Cropenergies, stressed the need for Europe to use both conventional and advanced biofuels in order to reach the climate goals.

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Olivier Dubois form FAO debunked the myth of “food vs fuels”stating that sustainable production of biofuels is complex and they should be considered as an opportunity for responsible investment in sustainable agriculture, rural development and bioeconomy.

Strong attention has been devoted to a comprehensive sustainability assessment from Nova Institute. A detailed study, showing that the first generation of biofuels is sustainable as the second generation in terms of GHG reductionhas been presented during the event. The study is based on the analysis of twelve different sustainability criteria, selected on the basis of the most current standards and certification systems of bio-based fuels and materials, including a wide range of environmental, social and economic aspects. IMG-5603The report analyses the strength and weaknesses of all biomass feedstocks for bioethanol production by criteria such as GHG footprint, GHG abatement costs, land use efficiency, food security, protein-rich co-products, employment, rural development, livelihood of famers and foresters, LUC / iLUC, logistic, infrastructure, availability, traceability, social impacts, biodiversity and air and soil quality.


Source: Nova Institute

Second generation biofuels seems to perform better than the first generation in terms of the reduction of GHG emissions. Biofuels made from any kind of feedstock provide advantages in terms of GHG emission reductions and should be vectors of a viable transitional strategy towards low-emission mobility, as long as they adhere to sustainability criteria.


For more information, please check the related website.


Other events attended

Waste2Fuels project has been also presented at:

13th International Symposium on the Genetics of Industrial Microorganisms, October 16-20, 2016, Wuhan, China.

International Conference on Metabolic Science (ICMS-2016). The conference provided a platform for world’s leading scientists, young scholars, graduates and entrepreneurs to network, exchanging update progress for solutions to address common challenges. In this occasion WEIZMANN had a keynote “Designer cellulosomes: A gold mine for synthetic nanobiotechnology” aimed at highlighting the rational bioengineering of cellulase and cellulosomal components for production of tailor-made multi-functional enzymes and “designer cellulosomes” for improved cellulose degradation.

Biomolecules and Nanostructures 6, May 10-14, 2017, Podlesice, Poland

The closing workshop of the Austrian national project KASAV, May 22, Wien. TUWIEN took part to the workshop with a presentation from Michael Harasek: “Downstream processing in fermentation processes using the example of KASAV process”. The event was focused on discussing the development of a cascaded three-stage process in order to generate liquid and gaseous bio-fuels from municipal organic waste. The core element of this process is a two-stage ABE process with subsequent biogas stage. Purified gas from hydrolysis will be utilized in the ABE as well as the biogas stage (internal biogas upgrading). Around 25 participants from local industry (waste management companies, biogas plant operators) and academia attended this workshop and received substantial insight to actually important research topics.

The First Workshop on Marine Offshore Biorefinery, May 24, 2017 in Israel

Biofuels and sustainability: Decarbonising transport and fuelling food security, 7 June, Brussels. The topic talked about how renewable energy, in particular biofuels can make sure the decarbonisation of transport sector and, at the same time to not hamper the production of food.


Insights from the biofuel world


Last summer the SFT (Sustainable Transport Forum) approved the Final Report elaborated by the Sub-Group on Advanced Biofuels, which consists of 32 industry experts representing all advanced biofuels value chains and transport sectors, such as aviation and maritime. The mandate of the Sub-Group was to develop strategies facilitating the deployment and use of advanced biofuels in the EU and thus support the accomplishment of the policy objectives of the Clean Power for  Transport Strategy, the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework and Energy Union Strategy. Indeed, while European technology developers are playing the leading role as well as fuels producers, the market is still fragmented and affected by uncertainties at both EU and Member States levels. It is unquestionable that there is a concern, especially amongst small and medium size fuel suppliers that, in reality, such a single market Captureprova defdoes not exist for biofuels.

Still, these market operators feel that they have  to operate in a fragmented market confronted with many different rules in a great number of Member States.

At present, transport consumes one third of all energy used within the EU and generates one quarter of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The GHG emissions from transport are expected to constitute a larger share of the overall EU GHG emissions, up to over 40% in 2050, thereby also becoming the dominant sector in terms of GHG emissions.

Biofuels could technically substitute oil in all transport modes, with existing power train technologies and refuelling infrastructures. In particular, the main advantages of liquid biofuels are their high energy density and the compatibility with existing vehicles and fuel distribution infrastructure, up to certain limits in concentration.

In this context, the industry is the key developer of innovative technologies and responsible to bringing them from the lab scale to market deployment, and at the same time is the main investor that can build these state-of-the-art plants and achieve significant GHG reductions in transport. The advanced biofuels industry can contribute between 6% and 9% of total EU transport energy needs by 2030 from sustainable biofuels; but this goal can only be achieved if some requirements are fulfilled.

A stable EU policy framework between 2020 and 2030, which also gives a planning horizon sufficiently beyond 2030 for those who will invest should be defined. In order to foster the decarbonisation and energy diversification of the EU transport sector, REDII introduced an obligation on European transport fuel suppliers to provide an increasing share of renewable and low-carbon fuels, including advanced biofuels, renewable transport fuels of non-biological origin (e.g. hydrogen), waste-based fuels and renewable electricity. Nevertheless, a long-term policy to be stable and effective shall be compatible with the investment in terms of sustainability, competitiveness and innovation need to be more strongly established in order to ensure investor confidence. From this point of view, the REDII looks very modest in terms of impact as it does not seem to provide any confidence to the industry that it will be an effective tool in meeting the EU policies in decarbonising transport.

Finally, dedicated financial mechanisms and instruments need to be developed for the advanced fuels to facilitate technology development and market deployment and mandatory obligations should be established for advanced biofuels and low carbon fossil fuels, given the different level of maturity of the technologies.  So far, a lack of long term stable legislation hindered the development of promising routes to reach demonstration and commercial deployment stage. This is particularly true in the case for capital intensive technologies. A wide range of different value chains are being demonstrated at industrial scale, which differ in conversion technology, the feedstocks used, the process employed and the resulting liquid fuels; but the compartmentalisation of the EU biofuels market has led to a malfunctioning market situation and trade barriers among the Member States. These uncertainties on the market situation are still a common obstacle to overcome in order to achieve its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target.

Without an appropriate policy framework and financing structure, the transport decarbonisation target, to which the industry can substantially contribute , risks not to be meet by the 2030.

News from the world of biofuels

2017 most likely will be a turning point in the implementation of the Energy Union objectives and the 2030 climate and Energy package. Several initiatives are in place as the new Renewable Energy Directive for the period after 2020-2030, an updated EU Bioenergy Sustainability Policy. But do not forget commitments made in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC, together with the Biofuels Directive 2003 and the Fuel Quality Directive , is one of the main pillars of biofuels policy. The Directive set legally binding targets for Member States to fulfil at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020.
On November 2016, the European Commission presented a proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive within a broader Clean Energy package of proposals. The ultimate goal of the proposal is to increase the share of renewable energy sources in the overall energy mix to at least 27 % by 2030, whilst ensuring that the EU becomes the world leader in renewable energy. This binding target will be fulfilled through individual Member States’ contributions guided by the need to deliver collectively for the EU.
Decarbonisation of transport through development of advanced biofuels and definition of the role of food-based biofuels after 2020 are among the main challenges identified by the Commission.The revised Renewable Energy Directive introduces an obligation on European transport fuel suppliers to provide an increasing share of renewable and low-carbon fuels, including advanced biofuels, renewable transport fuels of non-biological origin (e.g. hydrogen), waste-based fuels and renewable electricity. At the same time, to minimize the Indirect Land-Use Change (ILUC) impacts, introduces a cap on the contribution of food-based biofuels towards the EU renewable energy target, starting at 7% in 2021 and going down progressively to 3.8% in 2030.The revised Renewable Energy Directive also strengthens the existing EU criteria for bioenergy sustainability. The Commission is committed to make the biomass for energy sustainable, improving sustainability criteria for biofuels, requiring that (new) advanced biofuels emit at least 70% fewer GHG emissions than fossil fuels.
The proposal has been referred to the Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee, where the work is still at preparatory phase.

Latest updates on WP8

During the first 14 months of the project, EXERGY Ltd, in collaboration with the project partners, has been working on the identification and initial assessment of different risks, mainly associated with the commercialisation of the main W2F processes and products (biobutanol) and sub-products (proteins, biogas, etc). The main risks are linked to the fluctuation in prices and availability of the feedstocks as well as the direct competition with other fuels and the impact on the supply chains. These factors, in conjunction with the overall costs of both the pre-treatments and the technology to obtain biobutanol have been identified as important risks to be taken into consideration, highlighting the importance of current work to develop and optimise the W2F processes.

Latest updates on WP6



As an initial part of the activities of experimental tests on engines and burners, being part of the tasks in the WP6 (Industrial scale-up), UPM have begun to plan and prepare the test methodology, incuding the quantity and the origin of the butanol to be used in such tests. On the other hand, preliminary tests have been made on CFR engine (variable compression ratio engine) in order to check its behavior and detect trend between using or non-using butanol. Lastly, the supply of butanol and the engines (diesel and spark ignition engines) are being managed.

As part of the WP6, UNIZAR is involved in the study of the pyrolysis and the oxidation of the four differentbutanol isomers, under a wide range of experimental conditions. Experimental results obtained will be used to develop a kinetic model, which allows to describe the processes studied. Additionally, the soot obtained in pyrolysis experiments will be analyzed to determine its toxicity in cooperation with UNINA.

Latest updates on WP5

crystal globe on moss in a forest - environment concept

Since the start of the project, TEAGASC has investigated novel green and environmentally friendly extraction technologies to obtain valuable components from food wastes and their fermentation by-products for their valorisation. This task, under the WP5 (Valorisation of high value by-products), has been conducted in close collaboration with WP1. Extractions assisted by microwave, power ultrasound, enzyme, ultra-Turrax, or high pressure technology and their combination were employed. Much higher yield was obtained under the optimal extraction conditions than under conventional extraction conditions and qualities of the extraction products were evaluated.

Latest updates on WP4




Under the WP4 (Catalytic convertion of pure ethanol into butanol with an heterogeneous structured catalystic), activities related to the catalytic valorisation of ethanol to 1-butanol have been implemented by IRC-CNR. Bio-ethanol can be catalytically converted into butanol through alcohol dimerization called Guerbet reaction. Basic sites are essential to get Guerbet coupling of alcohol and addition of a metal function gives better dehydrogenation/hydrogenation properties. Powder γ-Al2O3, hydroxyapatite and MgO have been synthesized according to different techniques to obtain high surface area materials. Ruthenium or Nickel have been dispersed on the supports. Textural, acid and basic properties of the three supports and redox properties of the metals have been characterized in order to optimize the catalyst formulation. Ru/MgO and Ni/MgO provided good butanol yields and are the candidates for the preparation of structured catalysts for operation in the pilot-scale rig.
Simultaneously, BGU has been working on two alternative catalytic routes:
i) Catalytic conversion of ethanol-water mixtures produced by waste biomass fermentation to butanol included conversion of ethanol-water mixtures to butylene that further reacts with water yielding butanol.
ii) Catalytic conversion of ethanol-water and aceton-butanol-ethanol (ABE) – water mixtures produced by waste biomass fermentation into biogasoline and hydrocarbon biofuels components boiling out in the temperature range of 30 – 300oC.
In both cases, catalytic materials have been developed and process conditions have been validated.