WinGD and Total in biorefinery waste project

Lignin, a waste produce from the biofuel refining process, could be used as a base for marine fuel oil, fuel additives and plastics Lignin, a waste produce from the biofuel refining process, could be used as a base for marine fuel oil, fuel additives and plastics

A research project funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative is exploring how to make low-sulphur marine fuel from the by-products of biofuel refining.

A large portion of the substantial waste produced by biorefineries is lignin, the glue that holds plants and trees together. The Falcon project, which includes engine developer Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD) and oil company Total, is exploring how this substance could be processed into an oil that could be used in applications including marine fuel.

The use of crops to generate biofuels is under strong economic pressure, and biorefineries require a high initial investment. They are also less efficient than traditional refineries in generating energy. The project coordinators estimate that by 2050, biofuel refineries will produce 200 million tonnes of lignin a year. Turning it into a commercial product would make biofuel production more economically viable.

In the early stages of the marine fuel project, a working group led by WinGD and Total has compiled technical specifications that the lignin derived fuel oil (LDFO) would have to meet for use in ship engines. This goes beyond sulphur content to include viscosity, flashpoint, heating value and cetane number.

The consortium comprises large industrial companies industries (Italian Bio Products, Total and WinGD), smaller enterprises (MetGen, Progression Industry, SUPREN and Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant) and academic institutions (University of Helsinki and the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute). It will run until the end of 2020.

The desired properties for lignin crude oil specified by WinGD and Total can be read here.


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