Wheat waste could become new biobased chemicals platform

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In Europe, Global Bioenergies and Ineos are advancing technologies to convert wheat residue into chemicals.

Dubbed the OPTISOCHEM [OPTimized conversion of residual wheat straw to bio-ISObutene for bio based CHEMicals] project, the partners are eyeing biobased isobutene, a platform molecule that can be used to produce many chemicals. Global Bioenergies, the project’s coordinator, says that “currently underutilized residual wheat straw has been converted at demo scale into second generation renewable bio-isobutene, and will eventually be transformed into oligomers and polymers usable in lubricants, rubbers, cosmetics, solvents, plastics, or fuels applications.”

Jean-François Boideau, EMEA Commercial General Manager at project partner INEOS Oligomers, adds that INEOS has received several batches of biobased isobutene from Global Bioenergies for qualification and that the quality is promising. “During the next phase of the project, INEOS is ready to evaluate conversion of additional quantities of bio-isobutene into downstream products in order to assess the potential of this bio-based feedstock as a building block for end consumer applications,” he adds.

The International Council on Clean Transportation estimates the EU generates 144 million metric tons of wheat residues annually.

OPTISOCHEM has received funding by the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking and will run until May 2021.