In the BioBUF project, the prospects of using two different types of biomass as raw material for chemical production are investigated: forestry residues and microalgae.
The forestry residue in focus is so-called GROT, i.e. branches and tops from logging. GROT consists not only of cellulose and hemicellulose, which can be fermented to useful molecules, but also of lignin. One challenge is therefore to find ways of using not only the cellulose and hemicellulose, but also the lignin that is more difficult to convert, to produce valuable compounds in the biorefinery.
There is a potential to significantly increase the use of GROT in Sweden, compared to current levels. However, GROT is a limited resource. A certain share must be recycled to the forest to avoid degradation of soil organic carbon and nutrients. Therefore, the environmental sustainability of using GROT as raw material in a biorefinery is an important issue to address in the project.
Microalgae are another potential biomass resource studied within the project. Different species are investigated to find one or several algae suitable for production of raw materials in the chemical industry. In addition, the possibility to extract substances with a higher economic value, such as pigments, lipids, and antioxidants is explored. Since microalgae require light, nutrition, and heat to grow, an important objective for the project is to create an efficient cultivation of microalgae that is both environmentally and economically viable.