Feedstock Biomass and agricultural residues
Fertile clay made the Northern provinces very suitable for crops like potatoes and sugar beets. Other popular crops in the region are wheat and maize, and hay to feed livestock.
Part of the agricultural products is used for consumption (crops, milk and meat), and some is ploughed back into the soil. The remainder is biomass waste. Valuable waste! And this is one of the focus areas for Chemport: to turn this ‘waste’ into valuable, renewable commodities.
There is a huge potential in using sugars instead of fossil oil as a feedstock for the chemical industry. In the Chemport ecosystem, the entire chain from agriculture to organic base chemicals and intermediates to final products is present.
Sugars are extracted from sugar beets, but through biorefinery more biomass can be turned into sugars. Starches from potatoes know many uses, partly in the chemical industry.
A number of the chemical companies in the Chemport Europe ecosystem are involved in developing biorefinery processes to turn biomass into useful chemical building blocks. Biomass is also used to produce energy: directly by burning biomass in energy plants or by producing biogas through fermentation.
The Chemport Europe Saccharide Agenda offers a roadmap for the development of a green chemistry production chain in the Northern Netherlands over the next thirty years. Many steps in this chain are still in development, or in the pilot stage. For a large scale switch to renewable carbon in chemistry, a joint effort is needed in R&D, upscaling, regulations and financial support. The steps outlined in the Agenda help to align the stakeholders and maintain momentum and enthusiasm among them.
Numerous companies use biomass in one way or another. Avantium has built a pilot biorefinery in Delfzijl, Eneco and EEW burn biomass in their powerplants, and a lot of research into the conversion of biomass into chemicals is done at the University of Groningen. Cosun Beet Company uses beet pulp to produce biogas, which is injected into the Dutch natural gas network. Also, Avebe is a true biorefinery, by getting all valuable chemicals out of potatoes.
Webinars and presentations
If you want more information, you can check out the presentations theat were given at the European Chemical Regions Network.
Also, you can view the webinar (in Dutch) below: