Austrian research organization Wood K plus coordinates the research project MAP 1-A1 joining the ExpandFibre Ecosystem

Austrian research organization Wood K plus coordinates the research project MAP 1-A1 joining the ExpandFibre Ecosystem

Projects 08.05.2024

Wood K plus (Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH) is a leading European research organisation in the area of wood and wood-related renewable resources. The organization’s core competences are material research and process technology along the complete value chain – from raw materials to the finished products. Wood K plus develops methods and performs applied research on the economy-science interface, in order to enable resource-efficient management in the circular bioeconomy. The COMET Project MAP 1-A1 (2022-2026) focuses on selective degradation of lignin into oligomers and monomers with the process developed at Wood K plus together with the catalyst manufacturer Heraeus Precious Metals, Heraeus Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG and Fortum Bio2X as an organosolv-lignin supplier. Prefere Resins is the end user in the project.

Wood K plus is located in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria and the third largest city in Austria. Prof. Birgit Kamm from the “Biorefinery Processes and Composite Materials” research focus area within Wood K plus acts as the key researcher of the COMET MAP 1-A1 project. The COMET Center (K1) of Wood K plus with the title “WOOD – transition to a sustainable bioeconomy“ is funded within the national COMET programme of Austria – Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies - by BMK (Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology), BMAW (Federal Ministry for Labour and Economy) as well as the co-financing provided by the federal provinces of Carinthia, Lower Austria, and Upper Austria. The COMET programme is managed by The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG), which is the national funding agency for industrial research and development in Austria.

The research focus of the “Biorefinery Processes and Composite Materials” area of expertise at Wood K plus is on optimising the use of biomass - primarily wood - but also other renewable raw materials. With more than 20 years of experience and over 40 highly qualified scientists organised in five research teams, Wood K plus is a leading research partner for industrial and strategic questions in the fields of wood and wood component chemistry, pulp quality and chemical or biotechnological utilisation of lignocellulosic raw materials. The organization’s expertise ranges from the pre-treatment of biomass to the digestion in pressurised reactors, the separation of waste and value streams and the development of methods for the required instrumental analysis. Further focus of the organization’s research activities is on composite materials made from renewable resources as well as bio-based carbon materials. These materials can be processed into innovative products with specifically adjustable property profiles. By means of extrusion, injection moulding, pressing, melt spinning or 3D-FLM printing. The unique know-how at Wood K plus also enables the production of hybrid materials, carbide ceramics and porous carbons from biogenic raw materials and processing them into complex parts. In addition, research is being conducted on the development of bio-based carbon fibers, carbon fiber precursors and in the area of bio-based electrochemistry.

Joining Wood K plus for the MAP 1-A1 project are Heraeus Precious Metals, Heraeus Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG, Prefere Resins, and Fortum Bio2X. Heraeus Precious Metals is part of The Heraeus Group, that is a broadly diversified and globally leading family-owned technology company, headquartered in Hanau, Germany. Prefere Resins is a leader in the production of individual and technically innovative phenolic and amino resins. Fortum Bio2X joined the project as an organosolv lignin supplier. Hanne Wikberg, Head of Product and Business Development at Fortum Bio2X, emphasizes the importance of developing new valuable applications as well as technically and economically feasible valorisation pathways for lignin to open the market and find interesting business opportunities: “This project gives us the chance to explore organosolv lignin’s versatility in selective degradation with the scope of using the products in high value application while simultaneously working with skilful partners”.

The key to the MAP 1-A1 project is a process for selective degradation of lignin into oligomers and monomers developed at Wood K plus together with the catalyst manufacturer Heraeus Precious Metals, Heraeus Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG (previous COMET project from 2019-2022). The production of oligomers from organosolv lignin (alcohol/water solvent system) has already been published in September 20221.

The main driver in the MAP 1-A1 project is the development of high-quality products based on lignin with a fundamental aim of reducing the CO2 footprint of these products. For example, the resin industry has a strong interest in completely replacing petrochemical-based phenols. For the production of completely bio-based binders, it is essential to selectively break down the lignin and to develop processes for binder production with suitable crosslinkers based on renewable resources. A novel bio-based condensation agent diformylfuran (DFF) is used for this purpose, which is also produced via the carbohydrate product line using catalysts2 provided by Heraeus Precious Metals, Heraeus Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG.

According to the MAP 1-A1 partners, the ExpandFibre Ecosystem offers ideal conditions to build a bio-based materials economy in Europe and beyond, as well as to develop a circular bioeconomy. The project consortium is ready to develop new synergies with the partners of the ExpandFibre Ecosystem.



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