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SURFs UP

Safe and sustainable by design microbial and lignin-based biosurfactants sourced from sustainable feedstock for home, personal care and agrochemical application

Project details

Type of project
Innovation Action - Demonstration
Project focus
Bio-based chemicals
Feedstock origin
Forest-based
Industrial and municipal waste
Feedstock type
Crop residues
Food industry sidestreams
Lignin & wood residues
Pure sugars
Project period
1 May 2024 - 31 October 2027
Status
In progress
CBE JU Contribution
€ 7 396 501,35
Call identifier
HORIZON-JU-CBE-2023

Summary

Crucial in daily life, surfactants are utilised in various sectors, including home and personal care, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food and feed, beverages, chemicals, detergents, and more. However, as many are produced through chemical processes, concerns have been raised about deforestation and logistic chains. The global production volume of surfactants stands at about 18 million tonnes, with an expected turnover of 47 billion euros by 2027, driving significant economic and environmental impacts. Despite a growing demand for safe and sustainable options, only 4% of the surfactant market consists of fully bio-based surfactants. The SURFs UP project aims to address this gap by developing optimised processes for 9 second-generation biosurfactant products.

These products will be derived from renewable feedstocks, such as wood processing waste (sugars and lignin) and regional food/processing waste. The project will focus on microbial biosurfactants and chemically produced biosurfactants from lignin. Each product will undergo thorough characterisation and evaluation based on safety and sustainability criteria. The production will be scaled up, and prototypes will be formulated for home and personal care, as well as agrochemical applications. Cost-efficiency and sustainability will be prioritised throughout the project, with comprehensive economic and environmental assessments. 

The SURFs UP project aims to:

  • Conduct sustainable EU feedstock mapping and optimise feedstock pretreatment for the SURF’s UP value chains, focusing on selecting optimal locations and assessing biomass availability, usage, and volume.
  • Demonstrate optimised, cost-efficient, and sustainable bioprocesses for biosurfactant production.
  • Formulate and demonstrate prototype biosurfactant products for personal care, home care, and agrochemical applications, emphasising reduced CO2 emissions.
  • Design realistic financial models for a biorefinery concept, incorporating in-depth process simulation and modelling-based techno-economic assessments to ensure economic, environmental, and social sustainability.
  • Design, build, and commission the SURF’s UP DEMO plant to validate biosurfactant production processes at the DEMO scale.
  • Operationalise the EC SSbD Framework for the development of novel biosurfactants, aligning with environmental goals and market demand for eco-friendly products.
  • Use environmental and social sustainability performance as a guide in process development and business planning, aiming to improve the overall environmental impact and reduce feedstock import dependency. 

SURFs UP is set to generate credible and sustainable impacts, building upon past successes such as CARBOSURF and WASTE2FUNC, with insights from projects such as IRODDI. The expected benefits include the:

  • Reduction of feedstock import dependency and biomass imports.
  • Improvement of feedstock sustainability and reduction of direct and indirect land use.
  • Improvement of circular (bio)economy and diversification of the valorised biomass feedstock.
  • Improvement of the environmental performance across the value chain against specified fossil and/or bio-based benchmarks.
  • Scale up of the safe-and-sustainable-by-design (SSbD), bio-based surfactants, especially contributing to downstream sectors where sustainability and safety performance challenges are high, namely household and personal care sectors, but also process and manufacturing industries, as well as other relevant sectors. 
  • Promotion of social awareness and acceptance of these products through consumer surveys and engagement with stakeholders and policymakers.
  • Facilitation of market uptake of scalable bio-based surfactants and availability of a broader range of bio-based products meeting market requirements. By 2030, SURFs UP BSs are estimated to capture around 1% of the European surfactant market.

Consortium map

Project coordination

  • BIO BASE EUROPE PILOT PLANT VZW Desteldonk Gent, Belgium

Consortium

  • UNIVERSITE DE LIEGE Liege, Belgium
  • CONSORZIO ITALBIOTEC Milano, Italy
  • DBFZ DEUTSCHES BIOMASSEFORSCHUNGSZENTRUM GEMEINNUTZIGE GMBH Leipzig, Germany
  • AJINOMOTO OMNICHEM WETTEREN, Belgium
  • TEKNOLOGIAN TUTKIMUSKESKUS VTT OY Espoo, Finland
  • IST-ID ASSOCIACAO DO INSTITUTO SUPERIOR TECNICO PARA A INVESTIGACAO E O DESENVOLVIMENTO Lisboa, Portugal
  • ECOVER CO-ORDINATION CENTER Malle, Belgium
  • FIBENOL OU Tallinn, Estonia
  • ACONDICIONAMIENTO TARRASENSE ASSOCIACION Terrassa, Spain
  • AMPHISTAR Gent, Belgium