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  • European Pulp2Value project to lay foundation for new sugar beet value chains


    Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research in the Netherlands has announced that it is coordinating a new large-scale European project together with agro-industrial cooperative Royal Cosun and some ten companies in and outside the Netherlands.

    sugar beetsThe new Pulp2Value project aims to demonstrate an integrated and cost-effective cascading biorefinery system to refine sugar beet pulp and isolate high value products for detergents, personal care, oil & gas, paints & coatings and composites. The project will spur rural development in sugar beet growing areas by connecting them in new cross-sectorial value chains with various industries, including the chemical and food industry.

    The project is one of the two European demonstration projects that are being funded by the European Biobased Industries Consortium. The project has received a grant of over EUR 6 million and kicked off on 1 July 2015.

    Jacco van Haveren, program manager biobased chemicals at Wageningen UR said that the aim was to realize a substantially more effective utilization of the sugar pulp, significantly increasing the value of the pulp by 20 to 50 times its current value. “We think that it should be possible, with the help of biorefinery and conversion technologies, to utilize around 65% of the pulp,” he said, noting that this would also give a tremendous boost to creating value and a market for pulp, which is enormously important for the future. Food & Biobased Research has worked together with Cosun in this area for a number of years. The project offers an opportunity to continue and expand their collaboration.

    “We are very pleased with the support we received from European Biobased Industries Consortium, which will allow us, together with our partners, to speed up the project and demonstrate both the economic and technical viability in the next years’, said Mr. Gert de Raaff, director New Business and member of the Cosun Executive Board. ‘The commitment from the EU will support additional investments in both know-how as well as in fixed assets to reduce the time to market and successfully build new biobased value chains.’

    The role of the Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research lab is specifically directed at the development of knowledge relating to biobased components. “We are going to characterize cellulose microfibers using advanced analytical equipment that will allow us to explore that possibilities for use in personal care products, paints and coatings and composite materials and to understand their properties,” said Van Haveren. “We will also be looking at the possibilities for converting galacturonic acid from sugar beets, ultimately to obtain galacturonic acid derivatives able to serve as building blocks for polymer products, including valuable PET-like materials.” Together with Cosun and the other partners in the project, the aim is to optimize the biorefinery process. Van Haveren: “We hope to be able to develop a scaled-up demonstration biorefinery – which will be located at Cosun - for sugar beet pulp on a scale of 10 and 1,000 metric tons.”

    Europe annually produces some 20 million tons of sugar beet pulp. Thanks to the use of modern biorefinery technologies, the sugars can be extracted for feed and food purposes, as well as for industrial applications, without competing against each other. (KL)


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