Chemicals from biomass
Research has been carried out at the department for many years on the production of chemicals from biomass.
This research is spurred on by the needs and desire of society to reduce the use of fossil-based raw materials and energy. Oil is used mainly as transportation fuel, while coal and natural gas are used for heat and power production. However, considerable amounts are also used in the production of chemicals. Whereas other kinds of raw materials can be used in the energy sector, many chemical prducts are based on carbon sources.
Various kinds of biomass are used in our research for the production of chemicals, mainly lignocellulose from trees. These chemicals can be produced by both thermochemical and biochemical processes.
Our research is aimed at improving processes for the production of platform chemicals, which in turn can be used as the starting materials for a wide range of final products. An example of this is succinic acid, which can be produced microbially from sugar. Succinic acid is already used in industry today, but it is predicted that it will become increasingly important in several value chains if can be produced more cost-effectively. Another example is the use of glycerol and ethanol for the synthesis of the industrially important olefins ethylene and propene, which are used in the production of common plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene.