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NEXT-STEP

NEXT-GEN OF SUSTAINABLE BIOBASED CHEMICAL PLATFORMS AND POLYMERS: ENHANCING SUSTAINABILITY IN EUROPEAN INDUSTRY

Project details

Type of project
Innovation Action - Demonstration
Project focus
Bio-based chemicals
Feedstock origin
Forestry waste
Feedstock type
Lignin & wood residues
Project period
1 June 2024 - 31 May 2028
Status
In progress
CBE JU Contribution
€ 6 609 475,5
Call identifier
HORIZON-JU-CBE-2023

Summary

Scaling up sustainable and biodegradable materials is crucial for the future advancement of European industry. Currently, many bio-based alternatives struggle to compete with established fossil-based chemicals due to challenges in environmental, economic, and societal performance. To overcome this, NEXT-STEP aims to build on the H2020 BioCatPolymers project to scale up and demonstrate a sustainable, safe, and economically viable production process for a new chemical platform with large-scale applications, notably in the bio-based polymer market. 

By reducing manufacturing costs and using second-generation feedstocks such as hardwood sugars produced from sustainably managed forests, NEXT-STEP aims to develop a new chemical platform, the 3-methyl-d-valerolactone (3MdVL) that will improve the sustainability and recyclability of polyurethane (PU) products and unlock new engineering plastic applications for polylactic acid (PLA) co-polymers. This initiative seeks to address environmental concerns while fostering the adoption of bio-based materials in various industries.

The NEXT-STEP project addresses the pressing need for sustainable and biodegradable materials in European industry, by:

  • Optimising the sourcing and process of EU-based and sustainable feedstocks.
  • Scaling up and demonstrating an innovative and resource-efficient process for producing an MVL (Mevalonate).
  • Scaling up resource-efficient catalytic processes to unlock the use of 3MdVL as a bio-based platform chemical.
  • Commercialising viable, safe, and sustainable building blocks by design to allow for future market adoption, while also ensuring the techno-economic feasibility of the developed processes.
  • Demonstrating the applicability of 3MdVL as a bio-based chemical platform for producing bio-based products that meet market requirements.
  • Defining socially acceptable and competitive business and commercialisation plans for the exploitation of project results.

NEXT-STEP’s main target is to demonstrate and scale up a sustainable, resource- and energy-efficient route to produce 3MdVL, which is currently not commercially available at a large scale. Expected impacts include:

  • Reducing dependency on biomass feedstock imports and land use impact, with positive effects on feedstock sustainability across the value chain.
  • Improving circularity and resource efficiency via the practical application of the circular (bio)economy concept, encompassing the resource- and energy-efficient cascading use of sustainably sourced biomass.
  • Significantly improving sustainability, strategic autonomy, resilience, and competitiveness of the European chemical industry, while also reducing the fossil feedstock dependence on other downstream sectors.
  • Significantly improving environmental performance across the value chain against specified fossil and/or bio-based benchmarks.
  • Reducing direct and indirect emissions against available fossil-based and/or bio-based benchmarks of the chemical industry, with a clear technical pathway to carbon neutrality.
  • Increasing social acceptance of circular bio-based solutions and products.
  • Making available a broader range of bio-based chemicals that meet market requirements and facilitating the market uptake of scalable bio-based solutions, therefore improving the present market penetration and impact of the bio-based chemicals.
  • Increasing the resilience of EU manufacturers through the production of sustainably managed feedstock inside the EU. As they are 2G feedstocks, from already-used products, the land use impact is minimal.
  • Making the processing sustainable by design, ensuring the use of renewable energies as much as possible. More notably, polyurethane can be obtained without using isocyanate and through a recycling-enabling copolymer.
  • Producing, for the first time, flexible PLA and easily recyclable NIPU at an industrial scale, with emphasis on mass market goods.
  • Creating positive outcomes that will enable the implementation of a flagship plant in Germany, managed by Mevaldi.

Consortium map

Project coordination

  • AIMPLAS - ASOCIACION DE INVESTIGACION DE MATERIALES PLASTICOS Y CONEXAS PATERNA VALENCIA, Spain

Consortium

  • STICHTING PDC RESEARCH FOUNDATION Breda, Netherlands
  • DBFZ DEUTSCHES BIOMASSEFORSCHUNGSZENTRUM GEMEINNUTZIGE GMBH Leipzig, Germany
  • UNIVERSITEIT GENT Gent, Belgium
  • BIO BASE EUROPE PILOT PLANT VZW Desteldonk Gent, Belgium
  • ADIDAS AG Herzogenaurach, Germany
  • MEVALDI B.V. Geleen, Netherlands
  • CENTRE DE RESSOURCES TECHNOLOGIQUES EN CHIMIE ASBL-CERTECH Seneffe, Belgium
  • FIBENOL OU Tallinn, Estonia
  • ALTAR Evry, France
  • UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI ROMA LA SAPIENZA Roma, Italy
Partners
  • QUANTIS Ecublens Vd, Switzerland