UPM’s ValChem project receives EU funding

By UPM | June 12, 2015

UPM’s ValChem project has received EUR 13.1 million ($33.89 million) funding from the European Union. The project will be done in cooperation with Sekab, METabolic EXplorer and Technische Universität Darmstadt. The total budget of the project is around EUR 18.5 million.

ValChem (value-added chemical building blocks and lignin from wood) is an ambitious project combining the competences of forest, chemical and bio-technology industries to realize a sustainable and innovative integrated process from wood to end products. The aim of the project is to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of an integrated biochemicals process covering the whole value chain from wood raw material to a selected platform chemical and lignin based performance chemicals.

“The ValChem project has a great potential to become another alternative value chain for utilizing the European forest resources. Each part of the process—wood-to-sugars for chemical production, production of bio-MPG (mono propylene glycol) from sugars, and production of lignin based performance chemicals—show progress well beyond the state-of-art,” says Dirk Carrez, executive director of Bio-based Industries Consortium.

ValChem utilizes the existing demonstration plants of the project partners to produce wood-based chemicals that are competitive with fossil alternatives in terms of quality and production costs. The wood raw material will be used as efficiently as possible and only sustainably sourced PEFC and FSC certified wood will be used.

SEKAB’s CelluAPP®technology for wood to sugars and to crude lignin conversion process has been verified in demonstration scale for ethanol production, but in this project it will be combined with METabolic EXplorer’s sugar to MPG process. The largest markets for MPG are unsaturated polyester resins, paints and coatings, industrial use and personal care. High value added lignin applications will be developed jointly by UPM and Technische Universität Darmstadt. Their end-uses are for example in the field of lignin-based reactive resins and composites.

The ValChem project is part of the BBI Joint Undertaking: a new  EUR 3.7 billion partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium aiming at increasing investment in the development of a sustainable bio-based industry sector in Europe. UPM is one of the founding members of BIC.