European wood-to-SAF project REWOFUEL successfully concludes after 4 years
Global Bioenergies announced Sept. 22 the end of the REWOFUEL project, which ran from June 1, 2018, to June 30, 2022. This project brought together several European industrial companies such as Repsol, Sekab and Fibenol, with the objective of demonstrating the conversion of wood residues into sustainable high-performance components for road and aviation fuels to further decarbonization efforts of ground and air transportation. The project was coordinated by Global Bioenergies and received 13.8 million (USD$13.4 million) euros in funding from the European Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.
The project, otherwise known by its full name, “Residual Wood Conversion to High-performance Drop-in Biofuels,” was funded under contract No. 792104 through the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency.
In addition to Global Bioenergies, Repsol, Sekab and Fibenol, the project also involved SkyNRG, Peab, Neste, IPSB, Technip FMC, Metex NoovistaGo and the Energie Institut JKU.
For this project, sugars from wood were supplied by Sekab and Fibenol.
“Our technology to produce second-generation sugars is considered to be among the best in the world, especially when it comes to wood as raw material,” said Tino Lassmann, project manager at Sekab. “We are convinced of its many values and possibilities as a way to reducing our environmental footprint. We are proud to have been a part of REWOFUEL together with other leading players in the European bioeconomy and we will continue the cooperation towards a more sustainable world.”
Peep Pitk, chief development officer at Fibenol, said, “We have been impressed by the performance of Global Bioenergies’ bioisobutene process with our wood sugars. From 2023, we [will be] producing these wood sugars at 20,000 tons per year capacity at our plant in Imavere, Estonia, and are looking forward to taking this collaboration to the next level.”
These sugars were then processed into high-performance sustainable biofuels.
“We have shown that bioisobutene produced from second-generation sugars from wood can be used to produce both octane booster for road transportation as well as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF),” said Bernard Chaud, head of industrial strategy at Global Bioenergies.
As a result, batches of bioisooctane, bio-ETBE and SAF have been produced by Global Bioenergies and then tested by Repsol, Spain’s leading oil company.
“The initial tests we conducted were satisfactory,” said Javier Marcos González, project manager at Repsol. “Having these isobutene derivatives from second-generation renewable resources would be a significant step forward for the fuel industry.”
Batches of SAF were produced and transferred to SkyNRG, a leader in the SAF industry. Significant work has been coordinated by SkyNRG for the certification of these isobutene derivatives as SAF.
“For the aviation industry to lower its carbon footprint and meet European targets on SAF, we need to keep developing new production pathways, with the aim to unlock new sustainable feedstock sources and increase conversion efficiencies,” said Maarten van Dijk, chief development officer at SkyNRG. “The REWOFUEL project has proven to be able to do exactly this. We have been impressed by the drive of all partners to make this project a success and by the innovative platform of Global Bioenergies in particular. We are looking forward to the next scale-up step and hope to see Global Bioenergies’ sustainable aviation fuel in commercial aircraft in the future.”
Meanwhile, byproducts from the ligneous part of wood chips have been incorporated by Peab into successfully implemented bitumen products. Producing bitumen with a better environmental footprint will help to optimize overall road transport performance.
The proteins resulting from fermentation are intended to be used in animal feed. The experiments conducted by Metex NoovistaGo in this respect have produced positive results.
Finally, the Energie Institut JKU has carried out lifecycle analyses of the various segments of this value chain and has quantified the reduction in CO2 emissions according to different configurations, which can lead to savings of up to 85 percent compared to the benchmark fossil solution.
Meanwhile, engineering efforts have been conducted by Neste, Technip-FMC, and IPSB, a French engineering company specialized in agribusinesses.
Marc Delcourt, CEO of Global Bioenergies, added, “This REWOFUEL project has brought together players from different fields to assemble an industrial value chain aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of air and road transportation. These sectors are at the heart of the environmental debate—transportation based on thermal engines must switch to renewable energy if it wants to survive in the coming decades. Air transport must also reduce its environmental impact. The players of the REWOFUEL project will maintain relations beyond the project to make the prospects more concrete.”