Organic waste streams are currently composed, digested or incinerated. The waste management industry would like to see these waste streams used as building locks for the chemical industry. Together with various waste management companies, the chemical industry, and other relevant supply chain partners, TNO is shaping this transition through its Waste2Aromatics project. The reuse of waste by which an economic system maximises the reusability of products and raw materials while minimising value destruction is a significant step towards circularity.
TNO is working on technology development for the production of bio-aromatics at Biorizon Shared Research Center. Aromatic compounds are among the most important resources for the chemical industry, but currently almost all aromatic building blocks are made from fossil oil. Each year, 90-100 megatons of these compounds are used in manufacture of various products such as plastics, lubricants, coatings and packaging. In one of Biorizon’s projects, Waste2Aromatics, it has been determined that waste streams such as manure, SSO (sourced separate organics, e.g. vegetable garden and fruit waste), sieve fractions and diaper fill can be suitable feedstocks for the production of furans (and levulinic acid), which can be converted into aromatic compounds.
If the chemical industry were to make full use of such organic residual streams, in theory it could achieve a 50-75% cut in CO2 emissions. This is motivating many companies, such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and LEGO, to explore alternative – sustainable – raw materials.
TNO is currently working towards a pilot plant to convert organic residual streams into building blocks for bio-aromatics.
“Cooperation like this can mean increased economies of scale, while providing access to even more practical knowledge from the supply chain”.
"We are seeking partners that can supply waste for this plant and chemical companies that would be prepared to use the building blocks we produce."Monique Wekking - TNO