With the delivery of PILLAR II on 16 January 2024, a new piece of pilot infrastructure was installed for the industrial-scale demonstration of wood and lignin processing into high-quality and sustainable chemicals.

In addition to the geothermal power plant, the VITO Sustainability Park also houses important pilot infrastructure for research into the development of lignin-based bio-aromatics. A first important step in building that pilot infrastructure was the delivery and installation of the LignoValue Pilot

Now the 2nd pilot unit, PILLAR II has also arrived. It forms an extension to the LignoValue Pilot and will be used to treat and liquefy (bring into solution) the lignin derived from biomass such as wood so that this lignin-in-solvent solution can be supplied to the LignoValue Pilot, the catalytic reactor to convert lignin into high-quality and sustainable bio-aromatics.  

Aromatics are important basic chemical products that can be found in many of our everyday products, but are currently mainly produced from fossil resources. With this unique pilot infrastructure, we demonstrate the sustainable production of bio-aromatics on a scale relevant to industry. We thus provide the necessary techno-economic proof-of-concept towards demo/commercial scale. In addition, this pilot infrastructure allows us to make sufficiently large quantities of the produced functional bio-aromatics available for advanced application development, thus contributing to the development of new lignin-based value chains

What are the next steps?

Currently, Zeton's team (from the Netherlands) is busy with the re-assembly activities, including anchoring the unit, pulling the necessary cables from the PILLAR II unit outside to the control room in the primary hall, equipping it with all necessary connections. If all goes according to plan, the first test week will start on 5 February, including the necessary leak tests.

The final 'Site Acceptance Tests' are scheduled to start from 19 February. After successful completion of these tests, the PILLAR II unit will be ready for the implementation of the research programme by the VITO pilot team.

What is lignin?

Lignin is one of the most abundant organic materials on earth. It is a molecule that nature itself produces in the cell wall of plant cells, giving strength and firmness to plants and trees. The fact that plants, shrubs and trees stand upright is due to the lignin it contains. Thanks to its chemical structure, lignin can replace many substances with aromatic compounds in the chemical industry, which are currently of fossil origin.

Benefit from the LignoValue Pilot Plant

If you would like to receive more information about the LignoValue Pilot Plant and the opportunities it offers for the development of bio-aromatics or lignin valorisation, please contact Dr. Kelly Servaes via kelly.servaes@vito.be or +32 (0)4 93 31 87 46.

+32 14 33 56 15