Cross-border collaboration within the framework of Interreg V Vlaanderen – The Netherlands

Start of this cross-border collaboration in March 2016 

This cross-border collaboration within the framework of Interreg V Vlaanderen – The Netherlands is focused on the scaling up of technology for the production of aromatics from biomass. This will result in functioning bench scale demonstrators that can produce samples from wood, sugars and lignin for the industry on a kilogram scale. The furans, alkylphenols, mono-, di- & tri-acids, functionalized phenols and other aromatic compounds will be used to develop suitable applications together with industrial partners. The BIO-HArT bench scale demonstrators will be realized at five different locations in the border region that complement each other optimally: the Green Chemistry Campus in Bergen op Zoom, the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant in Gent, the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen, the Chem&Tech Campus in Leuven and Blue Gate in Antwerp. The accelerated establishment of value chains within this project will give an impulse to businesses and employment in South-Netherlands and Flanders. The project officially started in March 2016 and will run for 3 years. The InSciTe Lignin RICHES project is part of BIO-HArT. 


Project leader

TNO under the flag of Biorizon



2017 update progress University of Maastricht
(Monika Jedrzejczyk, Katrien Bernaerts)

The focus is on strategies for curing of lignin, lignin-based oligomers and monomers mixture without using formaldehyde, i.e. using thiol-yne chemistry. Hereto, the alkylphenols in the lignin oil are O-functionalized with an alkyne which can be crosslinked using a tetrafunctionalized thiol. Hydroxyl group conversions with alkynes of 49-86% (depending on OH type: phenolic, aliphatic or OH in carboxyl group)  were now obtained used on lignin monomers mixture obtained from the KU Leuven. Lignin based oligomers from VITO and BBEU 2 lignin and PF resin gave OH group conversion ranging from 35 to 89%. 

The curing of the lignin-alkyne monomers was tried thermally to obtain adhesives and photochemically to obtain coatings. The thermal curing was attempted with several initiators and worked nicely on model systems but not on PF resin and lignin. However, using UV light a lignin and lignin-based oligomers conversion of 20% (in bulk) and 57% (in solution) could be obtained which is now further optimized. KUL monomers mixture gave conversion of 75% in bulk experiments. Currently, the focus is on improving the conversion of both lignin-based fractions modification and curing step. Deliverable 6.6 (due June 2018) is well on track.


2017 update Progress Eindhoven University of Technology
(Panos Kouris, Emiel Hensen)

Two types of processes for lignin depolymerization have been studied. In the original TU/e 1-step process, the lignin is heated in supercritical EtOH using an Cu catalyst at 350 oC. Disadvantages of this process are that the catalyst can not be separated from the char and that much ethanol (40%) is lost by reaction with the lignin products. Currently, kinetic modeling is in progress to investigate which step is rate-determining.

In the second option, lignin is dissolved/thermolysed mildly at much lower temperature in ethanol without catalyst to give oligomers. This oil can be used as such or further depolymerized by hydrogenation with Ru/C, Pd/C or Ni/C catalysts at 200-250 oC. No char is formed and the ethanol loss is only 5-10%. A patent was filed. In October, 2 batches of EtOH thermolyzed lignin oil are brought to VITO for separation experiments as well as 1 batch of Pd/C hydrogenated lignin oil.

Project Partners

DSM,  Eindhoven University of TechnologyMaastricht University, Avantium, Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, VITO

Chemelot InSciTe