There are two major routes to convert lignocellulose into biofuels and bio-products: thermochemical and biochemical conversions. Compared with the biochemical process, thermochemical conversion has fewer processing steps and a shorter processing time but requires more energy input, i.e. lower energy efficiency. Biochemical conversion features potentially high product yields, low energy consumption, and modest reaction conditions. CIBA is focussing on biochemical conversion.
Biological saccharification of lignocellulosic biomass usually involves two sequential steps: (i) pretreatment, which increases substrate reactivity for hydrolytic enzymes; and (ii) enzymatic hydrolysis, which releases soluble sugars by hydrolytic enzymes. Pretreatment usually accounts for up to 40% of the total processing cost of bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass.
Consequently, an efficient pretreatment technology that affords rapid and high-digestion enzymatic saccharification is of great importance for economically sustainable biorefineries.
New technologies have been developed producing isobutanol from cellulosic feedstocks as a step in the conversion to bio kerosene (bio jet fuel).
The ambition of the EU is to realize 3.6-million-ton bio jet fuel in 2030 and CIBA wants to be part of this ambition.