Bioeconomy Science Center
Forschung und Kooperation für nachhaltige BioÖkonomie

Bioeconomy Science Center
Forschung und Kooperation für nachhaltige BioÖkonomie
BOOST FUND Projekt OrCaCel

OrganoCat plant and pulping combinations for the full valorization of lignocellulose from marginal land grown perennial plants


To substitute fossil resources by lignocellulose as carbon source for the production of chemicals and liquid fuels is of arising interest and a big challenge, both technologically and economically. Besides challenges like food and feed competing for arable land, the efficient pre-treatment and fractionation of the composite material lignocellulose has to be addressed. Within the boost fund project OrCaCel, synergies between growing/plant management of perennial plants and adaptation/optimization of the recently developed, innovative OrganoCat technology were investigated and exploited to enhance effectiveness and improve outcome of the fractionation process. This was facilitated by in-depth and high-throughput analysis of the cell wall composition of the different lignocellulosic plants and by characterizing the OrganoCat output streams to allow for identifying and adapting relevant factors.

Different perennial plants (Sida hermaphrodita (Sida), Silphium perfoliatum (Silphium) and Szarvasi-1 (Szarvasi)) were cultivated under conditions, ranging from optimal nutrition to marginal soils and using different seed sources. Cell wall/lignocellulose composition analysis of the different plants at varying harvesting time points and grown under ideal to non-ideal soil conditions resulted in a database showing the variety of different compositions, which then could be used to enhance fractionation by the OrganoCat technology. For comparison, biomass from Miscanthus x gigantheus (Miscanthus) was additionally cultivated.

According to the information acquired, the OrganoCat process was adapted to optimally fractionate lignocellulose from different plants into its main components, and thus yielding high amounts of desired products such as lignin, cellulose and matrix polysaccharides. Different harvesting time points did not show a major impact on the processability but rather a change in compositional ratio between cellulose, lignin and matrix polysaccharides. However, differences in processability were observed between non-grasses and grasses. Sida and Silphium were fractionated less efficient than Szarvasi and Miscanthus. Analysis of the matrix polysaccharide fraction showed higher sugar acid content in the non-grasses, making the lignocellulosic structure possibly more rigid and less accessible for hydrolysis. Generally, the composition of the matrix polysaccharides showed to have great impact on velocity of the hydrolysis and consequently on the extraction of lignin and pureness of the cellulose enriched pulp.

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Participating Core Groups

Prof. Dr. Björn Usadel; Dr. Holger Klose, Institute for Botany and Molecular Genetics (IBMG): Plant Walls, Metabolism & Bioinformatics; RWTH Aachen University
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schurr, Dr. Nicolai Jablonowski, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences IBG-2: Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
Prof. Dr. Walter Leitner, Dr. Philipp Grande, Institut für Technische und Makromolekulare Chemie ITMC, RWTH Aachen University

Prof. Dr. Björn Usadel; Institute for Botany and Molecular Genetics (IBMG): Plant Walls, Metabolism & Bioinformatics; RWTH Aachen University

Contact Person
Dr. Holger Klose, IBMG
RWTH Aachen University
Worringer Weg 3
52074 Aachen
phone: +49 (0) 241 - 80 25762

Project duration

01.07.2014 – 30.09.2016

Funding budget
The total budget of OrCaCel is € 699.614. OrCaCel is part of the NRW-Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.


Damm, T, Commandeur, U, Fischer, R, Usadel, B and Klose, H (2016). Improving the utilization of lignocellulosic biomass by polysaccharide modification. Process Biochemistry 51(2): 288-296.

Damm, T, Pattathil, S, Günl, M, Jablonowski, ND, O'Neill, M, Grün, KS, Grande, PM, Leitner, W, Schurr, U, Usadel, B and Klose, H (2017). Insights into cell wall structure of sida hermaphrodita and its influence on recalcitrance. Carbohydrate Polymers 168: 94-102.

Grande, PM, Viell, J, Theyssen, N, Marquardt, W, Dominguez de Maria, P and Leitner, W (2015). Fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass using the organocat process. Green Chemistry 17(6): 3533-3539.

Jablonowski, ND, Kollmann, T, Nabel, M, Damm, T, Klose, H, Müller, M, Bläsing, M, Seebold, S, Krafft, S, Kuperjans, I, Dahmen, M and Schurr, U (2017). Valorization of sida (sida hermaphrodita) biomass for multiple energy purposes. GCB Bioenergy 9(1): 202-214.

Li, Z, Omranian, N, Neumetzler, L, Wang, T, Herter, T, Usadel, B, Demura, T, Giavalisco, P, Nikoloski, Z and Persson, S (2016). A transcriptional and metabolic framework for secondary wall formation in arabidopsis. Plant Physiol 172(2): 1334-1351.

María, PDd, Grande, PM and Leitner, W (2015). Current trends in pretreatment and fractionation of lignocellulose as reflected in industrial patent activities. Chemie Ingenieur Technik 87(12): 1686-1695.