Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

NGP2 - Biorefinery | RWTH Aachen


Dr.-Ing. Jörn Viell

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Research topics and profile (related to bioeconomy)

Bioeconomy must be sustainable and efficient. However, the efficiency of the use of renewable raw materials can only be assessed on a technical scale, which usually cannot be realized in the laboratory. The goal of the NGP2 Biorefinery of Aachen Chemical Engineering is therefore to demonstrate processes based on renewable raw materials on a technical scale. A closed process from pre-treatment, bio- and chemo-catalytic conversion to analysis and separation of the products on a kilogram scale can be realized. At the same time, the reuse of feedstock is demonstrated. This demonstration is research to increase the technology readiness of the process and, in addition to feasibility as a (whole) process, also allows studies of scale-up to an industrial plant. For this purpose, process spectroscopy is used to measure on-line concentrations for comparison with the laboratory results. Based on this, process control and optimization can be implemented and investigated. Furthermore, the experimental data form the basis for a reliable assessment of the performance of processes with renewable raw materials in the bioeconomy.

Research focus:

- Use of renewable resources for the production of valuable materials, e.g. functional materials, energy carriers, chemicals
- Bio- and chemocatalytic conversion processes with pretreatment, conversion and separation
- Process technology to increase yield, material quality and reliability
- Integration of renewable energy into biorefinery processes
- Scale-up and technology transfer to technical scale

Contributions to BioSC

In the BioSC, the NGP2 Biorefinery can process representative raw materials into sample quantities. The modular plants enable the continuous conversion and recycling and analysis of process flows. For the collaborating groups, this gives realistic compositions as the basis for an economic evaluation. Application tests can be carried out with the sample quantities and the influence of different regional raw materials on product quality and process performance can be investigated.

The methods and processes for the use of renewable raw materials must be redeveloped. For this purpose, the technology must take into account the changed conditions compared to petrochemical processes. The valuable substances are usually present in lower concentrations, in water and as non-volatile components. The starting material is biomass, which is chunky and much more heterogeneous than fossil raw materials. The biorefinery must therefore be able to demonstrate current technology development in digestion, conversion and separation, and is researching for integration of these process steps into an overall process for scale-up.