Years: 2021 – 2024
BIONANOPOLYS project has 27 partners from 12 European countries, including 10 research centres, 10 SMEs, 3 large companies, 2 universities and 2 non-profit associations.
Protecting ecosystems, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and saving non-renewable resources are key points for a more sustainable future. The potential alternative to petrochemical materials and products is materials from natural sources. Biomaterials are being widely used in some specific fields such as medicine. However, there is still an arduous task to position them at a competitive level against their fossil counterparts, in relation to the productivity for mass consumption and exploitation costs. These factors are currently a barrier to the market entry for biomaterials.
The idea of the Bionanopolys testbed and its benefits
Bionanopolys opens up a platform for driving “open innovation” (OITB) in this field to provide materials with the requested properties to the end-users of this platform. To speed up the introduction of bio-based nano-enabled materials into the market, a single-entry point (SEP) for stakeholders, who are willing to contribute or to make use of the OITB services is a central objective of the project.
Bionanopolys Open Innovation Test Bed
An Open Innovation Test Bed (OITB) or Open Innovation Ecosystem is a set of entities, providing common access to physical facilities, capabilities, and a wide range of services in a specific field of competence. The objective is to assist Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), large enterprises, and other stakeholders to bring new innovative materials, products, processes, and services closer to the market, “TRL 7” (Technology Readiness Level), within the reach of companies and users.
“Bionanopolys OITB for developing safe nano-enabled bio-based materials and polymer bionanocomposites for multifunctional and new advanced applications”, will strengthen the circularity of nano-enabled bio-based materials in the economy, by developing innovative bionanocomposites and bio-based nanoproducts from main feedstocks in Europe.
Bionanopolys OITB will improve technologies and processes, with the purpose to increase the acceptance of new technology by the market, ensure seasonal feedstocks, offer price competition and market positioning, reduce regulatory constraints, and ease safety, economic and technical barriers.
The transformation of biobased materials to the nanoscale will offer new functional properties for high-volume applications such as packaging, cosmetic, medical, foam, nonwoven, coating, 3D printing, textiles, and cellulose paper.
The objective of the Bionanopolys Open Innovation Environment is to build a European reference ecosystem for the upscaling of nano-enabled bio-based materials and polymer bionanocomposites. The Ecosystem will offer a holistic solution, including their infrastructure, their capabilities, and all associated services easy to find, accessible, transparent and interoperable, through a unique access contact point, called Single Entry Point (SEP), in a form of a “restaurant menu”.
Through the SEP, Bionanopolys OITB will create an integrated open environment to offer end-users technical, legal, regulatory, safety, economic and financial support. Hence, reducing risks and barriers for commercial exploitation and accelerating market uptake and innovation process.
In addition, SMEs, industries, and potential customers will benefit from Bionanopolys OITB at reasonable costs and conditions. Any customer of the OITB, European or global, will be able to access it through the SEP at any point of a specific development stage, trying to address their needs with BIONANOPOLYS’ know-how. Furthermore, Bionanopolys Open Innovation Test Bed will build up the network between technology providers, service providers, and the industry by driving collaborative open innovation.
The Bionanopolys community makes use of sustainably sourced renewable feedstocks in Europe for manufacturing innovative bionanocomposites and producing bio-based nano-products for different industry sectors. The key pillars, where the community is held, are the 14 pilot plants. Five of them focused on the development of bionanomaterials from biomass, three pilot plants dedicated to bionanocomposites, and six pilot plants for bio-based nanoproducts manufacturing to reach a wide range of applications in different sectors.
BIONANOMATERIALS FROM BIOMASS
PP1: Raw material
Extraction of raw materials, solvents, monomers, and oligomers from biomass
Pilot Plant 1 of the BioNanopolys project is focused on the extraction of raw materials, solvents, monomers, and oligomers from biomass, from TRL4 to TRL7.
A cooking and bleaching pilot plant will be upgraded for the extraction of cellulose from annual plants, enabling process optimization. Hence, the extracted cellulose polymers will be hydrolysed to produce solutions of fermentable sugars. For this purpose, enzymatic treatments will be carried out in high solid load (20-25 %) to produce a solution with high sugar content, necessary for the implementation of highly productive fermentation processes. A multipurpose bioprocessing pilot plant with stainless steel, steam-sterilizable fermenters of 10L, 50L, and 200L working volume, and diverse pilot scale DSP equipment will be upgraded with advanced process monitoring capabilities (fermentation and DSP) and integrated control software to support the optimisation and scale-up of different fermentation processes. The cellulosic hydrolysates produced in the project will be used as raw materials to produce lactic acid and succinic acid, used as solvents of building blocks of biopolymers, and also for the production of polyhydroxyalkanoates, biopolyesters produced directly in microbial biomass.
Obtaining cellulose nanofibers and nanocrystals, nanolignin
Thanks to their unique properties, nanoparticles are of interest in many sectors: composites, building, transport, packaging, etc. In addition to their outstanding properties, they are also expected to contribute to a more sustainable future. And cherry on the cake, they can also be obtained from biomass. The objective of Pilot plant 2 is to be able to extract from wood & annual plant biomasses the following biosourced nanoparticles: cellulose nanofibres (CNF), cellulose nanocrystals (CNC), and nanolignin.
The bottom down route is applied. CNC are obtained thanks to chemical hydrolysis of the cellulosic fibres. CNF are produced by combining enzymatic and mechanical treatments of the biomass on grinding stones and twin screw extruder equipments at ITENE and CTP respectively. These two pilots are based on intensive mechanical fibrillation of process to generate highly fibrillated nanofibers with high specific surface area.
The main objectives are to:
- move from batch to continuous production processes,
- produce NFC at high consistency (20-30%),
- Increase production capacities up to several kg/days,
- Ensure that quality of cellulose-based nanoparticles meets the requiments.
These cellulose-based nanoparticles will be used in the project to manufacture bionanomposites, bionanomaterials and finally bionanoproducts.
PP6: Nanoproducts modifications and funcionalization
Modification and functionalization of nanomaterials in liquid and gaseous medium
Modification and functionalization of nanomaterials is a common way to reduce the strong attraction between them, enhance the chemical compatibility with polymer matrices and improve the properties of certain substrates based on nano-cellulosic materials. For this objective, three approaches have been considered within the BIONANOPOLYS project carried out in Pilot Plant 6: liquid-solid and gas-solid reactions as well as grafting by chromatogeny technology.
Liquid-solid reactions usually are carried out in vessels equipped with mechanical stirring systems and are sometimes followed by ultrasonication for de-agglomerating and dispersing nanomaterials in a liquid medium. However, the high amount of reagents, time of reaction, and energy consumption involved in the modification process as well as in the post-treatment process to obtain the additive in powder form are the main causes involved in the final price of this kind of nanomaterial. To solve this, the implementation of different dispersing systems to break particle agglomerates, increasing the specific surface area of the nanomaterials, will allow increasing of the reaction yield, a reduction of reagents, time and energy consumed, with the consequent saving in raw materials, energy, and production of chemical residues.
On the other side, to also apply the concept of “green chemistry” in modification processes of nanomaterials to achieve cost-efficient and environmentally friendly nanomaterials, gas-solid reactions will be carried out in the BIONANOPOLYS project. In these kinds of reactions, the use of solvents and the post-treatment processes are unnecessary in comparison with liquid-solid reactions. In BIONANOPOLYS, this technology will be used to modify nanomaterials in a more sustainable way.
Other modification technology consists of the chromatogeny technique which creates a water repellent surface while keeping recyclability and biodegradability, being therefore highly interesting for the cellulosic materials. Until now this process, based on roll-to-roll solvent-free surface treatment, has been optimized to treat cellulosic materials and in the BIONANOPOLYS project will be focused on the upgrade of this technology to be applied on different nano-cellulosic materials to improve mainly their sensitivity to water.
Textiles and non-woven fabrics
For BIONANOPOLYS, STFI is the leader of two project-related nonwoven pilot plants – a melt-blown plant and a fibre nonwoven line. Nonwovens for different applications can be produced at a semi-industrial scale. The plants are also available for customer trials and practically very well tested. Both will be part of the Open Innovation Test Bed (OITB) of the BIONANOPOLYS project.
The meltblown plant is an extrusion nonwoven line with a working width of 60 cm. Currently, it is equipped with a single row nozzle unit having a throughput of 10 kg polymer granulate per hour depending on the processed polymer material. The plant is used for the production of nonwovens made of very fine up to ultra-fine filaments for filtration or medical applications. To achieve even finer filament diameters and higher efficiency (material throughput), the installation of a new multirow nozzle unit is planned for summer 2021. A second improvement is dedicated to the electro-charging unit used for online surface modification of the filaments during the meltblown process. Current challenge is to prepare a retrofit conception for this.
The fibre nonwoven line with a working width up to 240 cm has a working speed of max. 10 m/min. It can process natural and synthetic fibres in a range of 1 to 28 dtex fibre fineness. The produced webs have a mass per unit area reaching from 50 to 1500 g/m2 and subsequent web bonding can be done by needling, stitch-bonding or spunlacing. Main application fields for the fibre nonwovens are the automotive or building sectors. The upgrading aims at the improvement of quality parameters, such as homogeneity, tolerances in grammage and thickness of nonwovens. Therefore, control units and digital interfaces are implemented to enhance the scalability and reproducibility of the produced fibre nonwovens. Furthermore, a monitoring unit to continuously control mass per unit area and/or the thickness of the fibre nonwovens and to detect material variations is planned in cooperation with project partners IRIS and CEA.
The main objective of BIONANOPOLYS is to create a network of pilot plants and complementary services to speed up the introduction of biobased nano-enabled materials into the market through a Single-Entry Point.
BIONANOPOLYS will generate a platform that integrates both technologies and scientific experience with dedication to biomaterials and nanotechnology. This will be complemented with the provision of services for the development and integration of new bio-based materials and nanomaterials.
In addition, the following secondary objectives were established:
- Upgrade 14 pilot plants across the entire BIONANOPOLYS value chain, being integrated into three groups that make up the Open Innovation Test Bed. Specifically, 5 plants focused on the development of bionanomaterials from biomass (obtaining cellulose nanofibers, cellulose nanocrystals, nanolignin, metallic nanoparticles, building blocks, block copolymers, active nanocapsules, etc.), 3 plants will develop bionanocomposites that maximize the dispersion of nanomaterials, and 6 pilot lines to manufacture bio-based nanoproducts from bionanocomposites, covering a wide range of applications in different sectors. All the pilot plants will participate in more than twenty case studies with key industrial players from the packaging, cosmetic, textile, paper, structural parts manufacturing, or agriculture sectors.
- Implement a transversal technology bureau to support pilot plant and end users by reducing technical risk, time, and barriers to the market penetration.
- Facilitate the commercial exploitation of the activities carried out by the clients and users of BIONANOPOLYS, through the development of transferable strategies to the users of the Test Beds (legal issues, intellectual property rights, etc.), applying the security regulations established the sector, product, and market, developing strategies for access to financing, improvement of skills, etc.
- Launch an accessible and economically sustainable Test Bed during and after the project by creating a user-friendly web-based single-entry point (SEP), updating the intellectual property models, defining a Business model to exploit BIONANOPOLYS and disseminating its aims and objectives through an open call and digital platform for stakeholder participation.
The main results expected in BIONANOPOLYS are:
- 14 pilot plants available for the development of new bio-based materials and nanomaterials.
- At least 20 case studies to develop reinforced polymers for packaging, cosmetics and functional ingredients, textiles and nonwovens, flexible packaging for food, packaging paper applications, foamed packaging products and lightweight structural parts, rigid packaging, and synthetic fibres for agricultural use.
- Responsible and safe use of bionanomaterials throughout the entire value chain.
- Life cycle assessment (LCA) and eco-efficiency analysis of manufactured products, which guarantees their recycling, composting or biodegradability at the end of their useful life.
- Establishment of safety protocols for the use of these materials in containers in contact with food and cosmetics.
- Support service for SMEs from the point of view of financing, through two investment partners (business angels) directly involved in BIONANOPOLYS, expecting a participation of 100 companies and 150 supported projects.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement Nº953206. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of AITEX and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Commission or the Programme management structures, not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
- Program: H2020-NMBP-TO-IND-2018-2020
- Budget: 13.3M€
- Grant Agreement: 953206
- Years: 2021-2024
- Status: In progress
- Entity: European Union