A new pilot plant set up at the InSciTe facility will be completed in the spring of 2019. This facility will be used to convert biological residual flows and waste into high-quality products.
For InSciTe this represents the next step in the valorisation of promising sustainable innovations. The first customer is the company Vertoro that will be producing oil from lignin. Other projects are sure to follow.
United in an InSciTe consortium composed of UM, TU/e and Brightlands, scientists have already demonstrated lignin’s potential. These efforts resulted in the spin-off Vertoro which is based at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus. “Vertoro needs a pilot plant to produce on an even larger scale,” Emiel Staring (MD Chemelot InSciTe) explains. “Together with the campus, we have decided to build this plant. Working with the other consortium partners, Vertoro uses the facilities and wants to convert enough lignin to be able to test the oil in practice. Ultimately, Vertoro might be able to license the formula to a large-scale user or producer.”
"Who knows? The first major lignin plant in the world might be here in Geleen in a few years. As InSciTe, we will have played the role we wanted to play.”
Sharing biobased facilities
InSciTe is investing a few million Euros in the pilot plant which will also be used by other parties. “This is actually the idea. The plant is suitable for a variety of production methods for oil based on biological residuals or recycled plastics. We are talking to several parties, mainly start-ups and young companies from the Netherlands and abroad.
Michael Boot of Vertoro says how happy he is with the construction of the pilot plant. “It’s crucial for us. We have to scale up now so we can supply samples to our customers on a larger scale. To do this, we need to be able to produce the necessary quantities of oil. Building our own installations isn’t an option. To do this, we would need millions in venture capital; this is not easy to find for a product that still has to prove its worth. InSciTe is really important for us in order to take the next step. It’s also nice that we were the first customer; it meant we were able to help with the design of the installations so that they can deliver exactly what Vertoro needs. I hope that we will be able to start before the summer of 2019.”
Investments in facilities and services
If Vertoro does license the concept, part of the proceeds will go to InSciTe. Emiel Staring: “We can use that money to invest in new facilities and services, to drive innovations. There are so many researchers with brilliant ideas, so many new entrepreneurs with ideas that get bogged down when it comes to the technical and quality implementation and the financing that goes along with this. At InSciTe, they can continue their development thanks to all the facilities and available knowledge workers. The Brightlands campus and the Chemelot industrial site can then offer all the options they need to set up production facilities, including support for financing.