14. Mar 2019

Paper waste as building block for sustainable chemicals

ISPT, the Netherlands-based Institute for Sustainable Processing Technology, has launched a new project to produce valuable chemicals from paper waste, it announced last week. The Cell-U-Value project will run until October 2022 in partnership with KNN Cellulose, the University of Groningen and Nouryon (former AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals).

aThe tons of paper that are flushed down the toilet every year contain high volumes of cellulose, that currently simply go to waste. The Cell-U-Value project will kick off with a lab feasibility study to convert this cellulose to acetic acid, which can be used to make useful chemicals such as MCA (mono-chloro acetic acid).

Erik Pijlman from KNN Cellulose BV explains: “Cellulose is a material that is very suitable to make chemicals in a sustainable way. At this moment waste cellulose has a negative economic value, which makes it also economically interesting. It has great potential for use as feedstock in large scale industrial processes.”

Recycling cellulose from paper waste into chemicals will reduce the need to fossil resources to make chemicals while reducing CO2 emissions from burning paper waste.

Converting the cellulose into biobased, sustainable chemicals will be achieved through a process of hydrolysis and fermentation integrated with reactive extraction. The focus will be on scaling up to a full-scale value chain, both on an economical and an environmental level. This will be followed by a pilot to gain clear insight into what the functional process to produce 10 tons of bio-based fine chemicals made from cellulose will entail.

Cellulose from waste is already being used in the building and infrastructure sector, according to Pijlman. “At a large scale it will become lucrative to get even more cellulose out of waste streams.”

In order to develop a full-scale value chain, Pijlman is inviting new partners to join the development specifically on the supply side. These partners can be suppliers from Water Authorities, the paper industry, the recycling industry and waste processing companies.

The Cell-U-Value project is co-funded with a subsidy from the Topsector Energy by the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.


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