The EU-funded ButaNexT project enables the production of biofuel from biomass. Specific for ButaNext is that the biomass used is not competing with agriculture nor does it contribute to deforestation. The international consortium has produced a video explaining the challenges, intermediate results and ambitions of the project.

Biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the dependence on fossil fuels. The development of biofuels from sustainable feedstocks supports achieving the EU’s objective of having 10% of transport fuel deriving from renewable sources by 2020. Biobutanol is an exciting alternative to first generation biofuels due to its chemical characteristics. However, due to the inefficiencies and costs associated with the current production process, biobutanol is yet to gain market establishment.

The ButaNexT project will develop highly efficient production processes and convert sustainable feedstocks for the next generation of biobutanol. The ButaNexT consortium is a multi-disciplinary team comprised of SMEs, a large company and research centers from Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. The team aspires to optimise each stage of the biobutanol production value chain: biomass pre-treatment, fermentation, downstream processing and blending.

It is expected that ButaNexT will realise significant reductions in both production costs (up to 50%, to attain price-parity with first generation biofuels) and carbon emissions (up to 85%) compared to fossil fuels (gasoline). Moreover, the project will work on maximising the biobutanol conversion yields from selected lignocellulosic feedstocks such as wheat straw and miscanthus.

VITO optimises downstream processing part of biobutanol production
VITO contributes to the ButaNext project in the downstream processing part, focusing on the in situ separation and recovery of butanol using pervaporation. This method reduces end product inhibition, thus improving the overall solvent titres and productivity. This novel separation method also allows the use of more concentrated sugar streams reducing feedstock dilution and water requirements. This leads to lower energy costs in the downstream processing compared to the conventional distillation section for product purification.

ButaNexT is coordinated by Green Biologics Ltd. (UK) and runs in cooperation with 9 European partners: Técnicas Reunidas S.A. (Spain), Fundación CENER (Spain), Dyadic Nederland BV (The Netherlands), C-TECH Innovation Limited (UK), University of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain), VITO - Flemish Institute for Technological Research (Belgium), E4tech (UK), Zabala Innovation Consulting S.A. (Spain) and Greenovate! Europe (Belgium).

The ButaNext project has received funding from the European Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement n°640462.

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