Dutch biotechnology company Avantium NV is officially opening a pilot biorefinery for its Zambezi technology in Delfzijl, Netherlands later this month, and is already looking into scaling up.
The plant, which has received a €1.8m regional investment funding from the province of Groningen, will pilot Avantium's technology to convert plant-based non-food feedstock, such as woodchips, to high purity industrial sugars and renewable chemical building blocks.
“Today much of the carbon we use for energy and materials is sourced from oil in the ground. Our technology now decouples the carbon source from oil to carbon already above-the-ground,” said Zanna McFerson, managing director, renewable chemistries, Avantium, in a statement to PNE.
Avantium's Zambezi technology makes high purity glucose which is a building block for many materials including bioplastics, according to McFerson.
In February last year, Avantium announced it was forming a consortium to develop an ecosystem for the biorefinery technology. Members of the consortium include Dutch speciality chemicals firm AkzoNobel, German utilities firm RWE, Dutch forestry and nature reserves organisation Staatsbosbeheer and green economy platform Chemport Europe.
“This is a milestone in our work to support the transition to a circular economy, and we are already looking beyond the pilot phase. We have a consortium of partners committed to developing a commercial-scale plant,” said Tom van Aken, chief executive officer of Avantium.
“We have gathered the right partners to tap into local expertise, utilities and infrastructure for the future commercial scale-up of our technology in the Netherlands,” said Van Aken.
According to Van Aken, other potential globall partners have also expressed interest in licensing the technology for local deployment.
Asked about the time-line for scaling up, McFerson told PNE that it normally takes “a couple of years to get to an investment decision and detailed engineering for the next scale of plant.”
Amsterdam-headquartered Avantium announced earlier in June plans for the construction of a new demonstration plant that will help advance the production of bio-based mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) made directly from renewable sugars.
The new plant, whose location has not been disclosed, will use Avantium's pioneering Mekong technology to convert renewable sugars into bio-based MEG.
MEG is a component for making everyday consumer goods, such as PET and PEF plastics and polyester textiles.