Unique Refinery Approach to Valorise European Lignocellulosics


The European UNRAVEL project will demonstrate a sustainable and economically feasible biorefinery for the conversion of second generation biomass into fuels, chemicals and building materials.

One of the major challenges in creating long-term benefits is to find sustainable and industrially viable biomass that does not compete with land-use for food production or that could pose the risk of natural habitat loss. One promising solution lies in using biomass residues that originate from forestry and/or agriculture such as bark, wheat straw or nutshells. Components within these residues that are of major economic interest are sugars and lignin, a substance with which bio-based materials and biochemicals can be developed. The UNRAVEL project will target sugar as compound for advanced liquid biofuels for transport and lignin for building blocks for bio-based materials, such as bio-polymers, insulation foams (polyurethane) and bitumen.

In UNRAVEL the mild biomass fractionation process FABIOLATM is applied, further matured and upscaled. This process has a large potential for improving the cost-effective pre-treatment of biomass. The fractionation of pre-extracted agricultural, forestry and food-processing residues will result in high yields of components. Another breakthrough that will be achieved in UNRAVEL is the increased homogeneity of the feedstock composition by pre-extraction of biomass and the purity of resulting biorefinery products.

With its breakthroughs UNRAVEL will make a strong contribution towards the EU goal of a bio-based economy that supports the transition towards a post-petroleum society while decoupling economic growth from resource depletion and negative environmental impacts. The project holds potential for a significant reduction of operating cost and energy demand, which will equally benefit the economy and the environment. Individual processing and conversion steps of biomass and compounds and their technical and economic feasibility will be demonstrated at industrial pilot scale.

ifeu’s role in this project is to lead the comprehensive sustainability assessment of the entire value chain including environmental, economic as well as social aspects. These assessments ensure that all measures are taken to maximise the project’s impact towards a more sustainable society.

This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 792004. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Bio Based Industries Consortium.


June 2018 – May 2022


Fraunhofer Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Angewandten Forschung e.V. - Germany (Coordinator)

Stichting Energieonderzoek Centrum Nederland - Netherlands (Coordinator)

Celignis Ltd - Ireland

Metgen OY - Finland

Soprema - France

Institut fur Energie- und Umweltforschung Heidelberg GMBH - Germany

EURIDA - Germany

Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique CNRS - France

Sappi Lanaken - Belgium

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Wissenschaften EV - Germany

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