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Biorizon/TNO spin-off company Relement has started a consortium with TNO, Circular Biobased Delta and Catalok to create a conceptual process design of the best commercial production route for bio-aromatics MPA and HMA. This conceptual process design provides information for the business case and should also enhance the confidence of buyers of bio-aromatics and lead to purchase intentions.

Circular Biobased Delta has been supporting the development of aromatics based on renewable raw materials since 2015. The region has the ambition to become a world leader in terms of technology developed for green chemistry. More than 40% of all necessary chemical building blocks are aromatics. Until now, these have only been made from fossil raw materials. Moreover, aromatics are used in high-value products that are difficult to recycle, for example in coatings and lubricants. For environmental reasons, it is all the more important to choose a bio-based replacement in the form of bio-aromatics.

The conceptual design is an important milestone for Relement and offers the possibility to attract further investments for a follow-on to a first commercially functional bio-aromatics plant from 2025 onwards. When the bio-aromatics factory is realised, a large energy and CO2 saving is expected, as calculated by CE Delft on behalf of Circular Biobased Delta.

BAroC

In this BAroC project, the partners are investigating in detail the production of functional bio-aromatics MPA and HMA from bio-based furfural. Engineering firm Transition Hero (as subcontractor of Relement) makes a techno-economic and LCA analysis, based on mass and energy balance and a simplified process description. Based on this, the best process route is selected. The most critical process step, missing information and critical process improvements are completed with literature research, possibly additional small-scale experiments and a recommendation for improvement. Based on this, the Concept Process Design for a first production plant for MPA and HMA is designed. BAroC also realises a first draft for REACH, CLD.

Results

The BAroC project delivers an optimised conceptual process design of a first commercial plant for bio-aromatics MPA and HMA. This includes a cost estimate for CAPEX and OPEX, an estimate for CO2 intensity and a sensitivity analysis with recommendations for further research into the realisation of the commercial plant. Furthermore, attention is paid to a roadmap of the further commercialisation process of bio-aromatics MPA and HMA, which can be applied in coatings and lubricants, among others.

About Bio-aromatics

TNO started developing the bio-aromatics technology based on furfural, in Biorizon Shared Research Centre. On a kilogram scale, the bio-aromatics MPA and HMA have been confirmed to improve the properties of coatings and lubricants. Therefore TNO founded Relement to further commercialise these bio-aromates.

About Relement

Relement is a spin-off of TNO founded in 2020 as a result of technology development in Biorizon Shared Research Centre. Relement converts biomass residues into high-quality chemical ingredients; bio-aromatics. Aromatics are essential raw materials for coatings, adhesives, insulation foam and other high-performance applications. Aromatics are now and in the future important chemical building blocks which until now can only be produced from fossil raw materials and are therefore not sustainable.

Relement wants to replace the current fossil aromatics with special bio-aromates. These special bio-aromates are not only much more durable, but also of better quality: for example, paint will be more resistant to sunlight and insulation foam will be stronger. Relement is a company for the development, production and marketing of biosourced tomatoes.