Pilot plant for chemical conversion of biomass installed at KU Leuven

27 February 2023

After finalizing design, construction and factory testing, the pilot plant built by MTSA Technopower 5.0 for chemical conversion of biomass was installed at TRANSfarm, a KU Leuven core facility.

The pilot plant is part of the KU Leuven Biocon platform. This platform is a scale-up facility to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable circular bio-economy. It bridges the gap between lab validation and commercialization by bringing emerging chemical technologies and carbon circularity solutions to the pilot scale.

Currently the platform focuses on upscaling of the lignin-first bio refinery technology, which has been invented by researchers from the Center for Sustainable Catalysis and Engineering (CSCE). This new technology enables the efficient conversion of lignocellulosic biomass (wood, grasses, agro side streams) into high-value renewable carbon sources for the chemical industry.

The Biocon platform will gradually be further extended with advanced pilot scale equipment for e.g. process intensification, downstream separations and product synthesis.

The Biocon platform is funded by: Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU), SMARTBOX Project, VLAIO, Catalisti, Energy Transition Fund of FOD Economie, Departement Economie, Wetenschap en Innovatie (EWI)

Heart of the pilot plant is a 150 litre reactor, operating at temperatures up to 240 ºC and pressures up to 120 bar. The pilot consists of a number of transportable skids.

A time lapse of the installation on the KU Leuven TRANSfarm site can be seen via the following link:

For inquiries regarding this project, please contact Jan ten Have, Technical director of MTSA and project manager of the design and realisation phase of the project.

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