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Anaerobic FermenTation & EsteRification of BIOmass for producing fine CHEmicals


The AFTER-BIOCHEM project aims to create multiple new value chains, from non-food biomass feedstock to multiple end-products, by combining anaerobic batch fermentation and esterification. In the fermentation process robust mixes of naturally occurring micro-organisms will produce organic acids such as propionic, butyric, isobutyric, valeric, isovaleric and caproic acids, with a mineral fertilizer sidestream. Based on the acids, a substantial number of derivatives may be produced, such as Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM) and cellulose acetate. The esterification process will convert the acetic acid into ethyl acetate and the propionic acid into ethyl propionate to maximize product value and minimize waste and energy use.
The feedstock of the fermentation process may be sugar production byproducts such as beet pulp and molasses, to increase the sustainability of sugar beet, a key European crop. The products will represent valuable renewable, bio-based, domestically-sourced alternatives to petrochemical products in numerous high-value applications such as flavorings and fragrances, hygiene products, pharmaceuticals, antimicrobials and polymers. The mineral fertilizer sidestream will contribute to the EU Action plan for the Circular Economy. The objective from 2020 to 2022 will be to commission the flagship biorefinery in France, which will then run at full capacity and integrate esterification from 2022 to 2024. Two further biorefineries should be initiated in Europe from 2024. The annual revenue generated by the three plants represents ca. €150 million, and at least 180 direct technical jobs and a commensurate number of indirect jobs would be created. In order to reach commercial scale (15.1 kt acid and 2.1 kt ester production per plant and year), AFTER-BIOCHEM seeks a €20 million grant while delivering €139.3 million additional investment, €13.0 million in-kind contribution (including 5% funding rate voluntary reduction) and € 250 k in-cash contribution.

Afyren Neoxy
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