Innovative Difunctional Biopolymers with Enhanced Performance from Agro Feedstocks (IDEA)
The goal of this project is to develop new, anionic functional products based on abundantly available
biopolymers such as cellulose, inulin, and starch. The improved biodegradability of end products for home and
personal care will prevent the emission of persistent micro-plastics to the environment. Furthermore, the use
of renewable feedstocks and agro residues contributes to the total-use concept. Overall, these new products
with well-defined end-of-life characteristics will significantly contribute to the goals of a biobased circular
This project addresses MMIP A3, re-use of organic waste- and side streams, by bringing together various actors in the value chain in order to develop new added value biobased products based on agro feedstocks, side streams and residues, as part of an agro total use concept. The technology to be developed in IDEA is based on combining existing biobased value chains with novel technology developed recently by WFBR (AF-16072), resulting in new functional biobased products with well-defined end-of-life scenarios as alternatives to current fossil based products, which will support achieving a fully circular economy in 2050.
IDEA contributes to “Priority 6; A Circular agriculture” on at least three points.
1. By using residual and side streams from agro-food production according to the “total use concept”, such as the residual sugars and biogas (for the synthesis of the bio reactant), residual starch and sugar beet pulp components (as feedstock for functionalisation), IDEA aims to further increase the value of these residual side streams.
2. Broadening the scope of biopolymers such as cellulose, inulin and starch for (technical) applications to replace fossil based materials (such as carbomers), leading to improved total use of the raw materials, and a substantial reduction of fossil feedstock and corresponding CO2 footprint.
3. Replacement of fossil based materials such as poorly biodegradable carbomers in various markets and applications such as personal care and cosmetics (dispersing-, thickening- and wetting agents), home-care (calcium sequestering), and bio-based adhesives. The use of renewable biodegradable materials will make an important contribution to the protection of drinking water, groundwater and wastewater, and contributes to a strong reduction of micro plastic emissions to the environment, supporting the development of a sustainable circular economy.
The specific goal of this project is to develop new, anionic functional products based on abundantly available biopolymers such as cellulose, inulin, and starch. Crops such as sugar beet, chicory and wheat are the feedstocks for both the biopolymers, and a biobased reactant that can be obtained from sugars or biogas via either fermentation or chemocatalysis. The use of renewable feedstocks and agro side streams and residues (such as non-food technical starches, sugar beet pulp and biogas) contributes to the total-use concept.
The IDEA consortium comprises multiple full value chains (from primary producers to end producers; i.e. several partners have multiple roles), increasing the chances for successful implementation and commercialisation of the developed technologies. Successful advancement in TRL level (e.g. for continuous processing in the starch value chain) will be accompanied by basic TEE (techno economic evaluation) and LCA (life cycle assessment) modelling at the end of the project (once sufficient data has been collected) to assess economic and environmental impact, and identify hot-spots for further improvement in order to increase sustainability.
When combined via batch or continuous conversion, new modified biopolymers will be obtained that will be tested for a wide range of applications, including home and personal care. The expected improved biodegradability of the end products will prevent the emission of persistent micro-plastics to the environment. Overall, these new products with well-defined end-of-life characteristics will significantly contribute to the goals of a biobased circular economy.
Modification of starch has been investigated at lab scale in the previous TKI-project and is therefore currently at the highest TRL level. A lab-scale solvent-free procedure has been explored, in which it was found that working under conditions with low water levels was the most preferred. The differences between the novel product and the current benchmark product have however not yet been evaluated. In this project, we would therefore like to increase the TRL level even further, by focusing on developing a continuous process by extrusion. A second focus will be on a thorough evaluation of the novel product properties, and a comparison to the relevant benchmarks.
Modification of cellulose is at a lower TRL level compared to starch. Despite some modifications have been reported in literature on cellulose, limited information is available on both the modification procedures and the product properties. The main goals will be to identify the most effective modification procedures, to determine the properties of the novel products, and to define their application potential. Again, at the last phase of the project biodegradability and toxicity testing will be included.
Modification of inulin is at a lower TRL level compared to starch and cellulose. Despite some modifications have been reported in literature on cellulose, limited information is available on both the modification procedures and the product properties. Inulin has not been reported to the best of our knowledge. The main goals will be to identify the most effective modification procedures, to determine the properties of the novel products, and to define their application potential. Again, at the last phase of the project biodegradability and toxicity testing will be included.
WFBR will convert malonate (either supplied by Cargill from their fermentation process, or commercial malonate) into chloromalonate using the previously described green synthesis methods. This will provide additional valuable insights in the process scalability and product characteristics / impurities. For risk mitigation, commercial chloromalonate will be sourced as a backup plan in order not to delay the other work.
• Develop reactive extrusion process to modify starch
• Develop batch process to modify cellulose, develop analysis procedures for modified cellulose
• Upscale starch reactive extrusion process, application testing of modified starch
• Improve batch cellulose modification process, small scale application testing of cellulose
• Develop batch process to modify inulin, develop analysis procedures for modified inulin, small scale application testing of cellulose
Year 3, after a go-decision:
• Upscaling and evaluation of scaled up samples of modified starch
• Upscaling and evaluation of samples of modified cellulose
• Upscaling and evaluation of samples of modified inulin
• Reports with process outlines, reaction efficiencies, product properties, techno economic evaluations and live cycle analyses