Carbohydrate conversion to highly reactive intermediate chemicals for adhesives

In the SUSBIND project, 11 partners from science and industry are jointly researching bio-based binders for wood-based materials.

Wood K plus leads a work package on the development of a new technology for the production of carbohydrate-based binders. The selection of suitable chemicals as well as the successful implementation of a production process for a carbohydrate-based precursor was confirmed in the intermediate project evaluation in February 2020.

The conversion of fructose to the platform chemical 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural is a promising approach (Fig. 1) that was successfully implemented in a continuous microreactor as well as a pressurized batch (Fig. 2). The synthesis was designed in accordance with the principles of green chemistry, as such no hazardous solvents or catalysts were used.

Figure 1: Acidic dehydration of fructose to hydroxymethylfurfural

The reaction is based on the acidic dehydratization of a fructose solution using sulfuric acid as catalyst and water as solvent. The produced precursor solution, containing minor amounts of side-products, can be used directly in the adhesive production. This in-situ approach ensures that no additional purification steps are needed. The “waste stream” of the process is water that is separated in a concentration step. The project is continued with the development of adhesives for wood composites.

Figure 2: Carbohydrate conversion to highly reactive intermediate chemicals for adhesives

Promising enzymatic technology on the horizon & the up-scaling of the epoxidation of oil fatty acids for industrial applications

As a collaborative European research & innovation project looking for the development as well as the scale-up of the production of SUStainable bio-BINDer systems for wood-based panels, SUSBIND is addressing the need for more sustainable bio-based binders used for wood-based panel boards in the European furniture industry.

Enzymatic reactions hold great potential to reshape the world, through the processing of agricultural and food industrial wastes, by creating sustainable by-products and favouring environmental rehabilitation. Therefore, the development of technologies for establishing successful enzyme-based processes has been very attractive in recent years to ensure sustainable and environmentally-friendly waste products.

Agricultural and food industry by-products and wastes can be utilized for manufacturing specialty and commodity chemicals, which may lead to the reduction in the dependency on fossil raw materials. Understanding the chemistry of these by-products and developing novel processing techniques has never been so important. This special issue is intended to attract cutting edge original research and recent advances on novel technologies applied to agriculture and food wastes as well as the processing of by-products.

Therefore, in their search for alternative binders produced from renewable resources, SUSBIND partners Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiología de Sevilla – IRNAS-CSIC (Seville, ES), Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas “Margarita Salas” – CIB-CSIC (Madrid, ES) and JenaBios GmbH (DE), together with Novozymes A/S (DK) recently shared their results in a scientific paper on promising enzymatic technology for epoxidizing complex mixtures of free or methylated fatty acids obtained from representative vegetable oils, under mild and environmentally-friendly conditions.

Enzyme technology broadly involves the production, isolation, purification and use of enzymes (in soluble or immobilized forms) for the ultimate benefit of humankind. In addition, recombinant DNA technology and protein engineering involved in the production of more efficient and useful enzymes are also a part of enzyme technology.

The article published by Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, titled ‘High Epoxidation Yields of Vegetable Oil Hydrolyzates and Methyl Esters by Selected Fungal Peroxygenases’, takes into consideration economic aspects, technical suitability and sustainability, and concludes that an industry suitable solution for a bio-based binder ingredient could be based on sunflower oil. The sunflower oil is argued as the best solution for scaling-up the mild and selective production of epoxidized fatty acids using enzymes of the group of unspecific peroxygenases (UPOs), including both wild (e.g. MroUPO and CglUPO) and recombinant (e.g. rHinUPO) UPOs.



Rapeseed, soybean, sunflower or linseed oils are suitable raw materials for lipid compound production (including epoxide-type biobinders)

Rapeseed, soybean, sunflower or linseed oils are suitable raw materials for lipid compound production (including epoxide-type biobinders)A series of oil-producing plants of global significance are available for the production of renewable lipid epoxides and other oxygenated derivatives. Commercially exploited oil seeds, such as rapeseed, soybean, sunflower, or linseed, exhibited a considerable variation in their fatty acid profiles, which makes them suitable raw materials for the production of different lipid compounds. The hydrolyzated and transesterified products of the above-mentioned vegetable oils were treated with three fungal UPOs to obtain epoxides. The three enzymes were capable of transforming free fatty acids (FAs) and FA methyl esters (FAMEs) from the oils into the corresponding epoxide derivatives, although some significant differences in selectivity toward epoxidation were observed, with CglUPO being generally more selective. The results show that the fungal UPOs elude some of the limitations of other monooxygenases since they are secreted proteins, therefore far more stable, as they only require H2O2 for activation.

Moreover, their recent expression as soluble and active enzymes in Escherichia coli is expanding the number of UPO enzymes available from related genes in sequenced genomes and simultaneously. They enable the rational design of the available UPOs as ad hoc biocatalysts of industrial interest using protein engineering tools. Most noteworthy is the ability of these UPOs, particularly rHinUPO being able to produce triepoxides from these samples.


Unspecific peroxygenase (UPO) enzymes from fungi Marasmius rotula (MroUPO), Chaetomium globosum (CglUPO) and Humicola insolens (HinUPO), among others, are promising biocatalysts for the mild and selective epoxidation of unsaturated lipids

Unspecific peroxygenase (UPO) enzymes from fungi Marasmius rotula (MroUPO), Chaetomium globosum (CglUPO) and Humicola insolens (HinUPO), among others, are promising biocatalysts for the mild and selective epoxidation of unsaturated lipidsTherefore, UPOs appear as promising biocatalysts for the environmentally-friendly production of reactive fatty-acid epoxides given their self-sufficient monooxygenase activity with high epoxidation selectivity, including recently reported enantioselectivity (in addition to strict regioselectivity) of some of their reactions.

However, in spite of all recent progress in our understanding of UPO catalysis and application, some difficulties still remain to be solved, such as the inactivation by H2O2 which affects enzyme reuse.

This could be solved by the continuous feeding of low H2O2 concentration, or its in situ generation by enzymatic or chemical systems, thus further increasing the concentration of FA substrates and the final epoxide products.



High Epoxidation Yields of Vegetable Oil Hydrolyzates and Methyl Esters by Selected Fungal Peroxygenases

Alejandro González-Benjumea, Gisela Marques, Owik M. Herold-Majumdar, Jan Kiebist, Katrin Scheibner, José C. del Río, Angel T. Martínez and Ana Gutiérrez

Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol., 05 January 2021, OPEN ACCESS, DOI:

Creating ad hoc enzymes for the production of the SUSBIND renewable bio-binders

Several thousand putative UPO (unspecific peroxygenases) sequences have been found in genetic databases and fungal genomes, indicating their widespread occurrence in the whole fungal kingdom, but only a handful of UPOs have been characterized so far, and almost nothing substantial is known on their natural function(s).

Their reliable heterologous expression remains tricky, despite all recent progress in this field.

Caption: Sections of wild peroxygenase (left) and a mutated variant (right) displaying the differences in their substrate access channels leading to the heme cofactor (red sticks). The engineered variant bears two phenylalanines (highlighted in aquamarine) that constrain the channel, switching the regioselectivity of the enzyme towards selective monoepoxide production from polyunsaturated fatty acids.

As a result of international collaboration within SUSBIND project, the CSIC-CIB-IRNAS (Spain), the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, the Technical University of Dresden (Germany) and the SME JenaBios (Germany) recently published in ACS Catalysis the development of novel fungal peroxygenases, which behave as “P450s with advantages”.

Both P450s and peroxygenases are enzymes that catalyse the oxygenation — the introduction of oxygen atoms — of a variety of substrates. Such reactions are very difficult to perform by chemical means, especially when the substrate is aliphatic, as is the case of fatty acids. Moreover, the use of enzymes is generally much more environmentally friendly than that of chemical catalysts. Enzymes are active under mild conditions, have a natural origin and are normally very selective in the catalysis, giving rise to fewer undesired by-products.

So, what is the meaning of peroxygenases which behave as “P450s with advantage”? Which is the advantage? Is the behaviour as a biocatalyst for oxygenation processes as a result of their self-sufficient monooxygenase activity? Yes, unspecific peroxygenases rely on H2O2 for catalysis, while P450s normally need other enzymatic partners and are less stable due to their intracellular nature. Furthermore, the study results give deeper insight into describing the structural basis for the catalytic properties on different fatty acids and, besides, show the potential to produce compounds of high-added value at preparative scale. As Municoy M. et al. have used powerful computational tools, such as the software PELE for ligand diffusion into proteins to simulate the behaviour of the enzymes on their substrates, being able to satisfactorily predict the oxygenation type (epoxidation versus hydroxylation) of the new peroxygenases. Computational data have been combined with the experimental analysis of the oxygenated products formed and process scale-up. Factors related to the enzymatic active-site architecture and the double-bond distribution in the different fatty acids were suggested by the computational analyses identified in experimental reactions and confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis of the heme access channel. In this way, the structural determinants for the catalytic properties of the different enzymes analysed have been unveiled.

The potential of this combined computational-experimental approach opens the door for new biotechnological processes for the enzymatic production of bio-based chemicals, which was further demonstrated by the preparative regio- and stereoselective epoxidation of α-linolenic acid. The product of this reaction, cis,cis-15(R),16(S)-octadeca-9,12-dienoic acid, was obtained by employing wild and engineered peroxygenases attaining 80−83% enantiomeric excess and over 99% regioselectivity. This, and other monoepoxides, from polyunsaturated fatty acids are nearly impossible to be obtained by other chemical means.

Therefore, their enzymatic synthesis developed as a final output of the study, represents a new and interesting reaction given the biological activity of these compounds, in addition to their application in organic chemistry as highly reactive molecules.

Confirming that epoxides of unsaturated fatty acids produced using the above-mentioned enzymes and vegetable oil feedstocks is a valuable finding within SUSBIND in its aim to develop a bio-based adhesive.

Reference: Fatty-acid oxygenation by fungal peroxygenases: From computational simulations to preparative regio- and stereoselective epoxidation. Municoy M., González-Benjumea A., Carro J., Aranda C., Linde D., Renau-Mínguez C., Ullrich R., Hofrichter M., Guallar V., Gutiérrez A., and Martínez A.T. 2020. ACS Catal.


“Biotechnology a Driver for Clean & Healthy Circular Economies – The Most Innovative EU Biotech-Projects”

SUSBIND – Nomination to be one of the most innovative biotech-projects in the EU by the KETBIO project platform!

“KETBIO’s  experts and its Commercial Committee have short-listed the top 10 biotechnology projects out of more than 300 EU-funded research projects. Please cast your vote online to decide on the most impactful and most promising EU-funded research in key enabling biotechnologies – from alternative proteins, bio-based compounds and food packs to microbial plastic recycling, enzymatic tools and industrial biotechnology.”

(C) KETBIO “Biotech Innovation at the Heart of a Green and Healthy Recovery for Europe” / Project Nominations


The list of projects comprises:

  • Application of cold plasma treatment for antimicrobial contact lenses
  • A new generation of microbial electrochemical wetland for effective decentralized wastewater treatment
  • Exploiting native endowments by re-factoring, re-programming and implementing novel control loops in Pseudomonas putida for bespoke biocatalysis
  • Fully bio-based and bio-degradable ready meal packaging
  • From plastic waste to plastic value using Pseudomonas putida synthetic biology
  • Re-think all plastic packaging – Wood-based fructose for production of plastic bottles and all plastic packaging
  • Sustainable jet fuel from flexible waste biomass
  • Industrial applications of marine enzymes: Innovative screening and expression platforms to discover and use the functional protein diversity from the sea
  • Innovative and scalable biotechnology using microbial fuel cell and anaerobic digestion for the treatment of micro-scale industrial and agriculture effluents to recover energy from waste

Many thanks again for your vote & help to make an impact for EU’s key enabling biotechnologies!


KETBIO Online Booster Conference Participation

SUSBIND, nominated for the Top-10 Most Innovative Biotech Projects in the EU, has been invited to give a talk at the KETBIO “Biotech Innovation at the Heart of a Green and Healthy Recovery for Europe” Online Booster Conference, June 17th. Among several invited speakers from the European Commission & Innovation Council, industry, policy makers, investors and commercial experts, RTDS represented SUSBIND in the afternoon session, accompanied by two other finalist projects.

“Biotech paves the way towards a broad range of applications including new sustainable consumer products such as bio-plastics, bio-based paints and glues, detergents, fertilizers for agriculture and sustainable fuels and energy carriers”, said Juergen Tiedje (European Commission, Head of Unit Sustainable Industry Systems), elaborating on KETBIO’s project analysis as baseline for the commercialisation and innovation potential.

The KETBIO project prior to the release of the Green Deal, tackling today’s challenges with knowledge by gathering best ideas and sustainable technologies for the modernisation of industrial sectors to become more circular. Industrial biotechnology has received and is still receiving significant funding from the EU, as it is seen as a key enabling technology for many fields, however time-to-market is a lengthy process and a lot of research and start-ups are disappearing into the “valley of death”, observes Tiedje, emphasizing the role of funding and additional services to support innovative projects.

“Overall, economy is mainly linear, and only a very little part is circular, which is unsustainable in a long-term view. The solution is: bioeconomy – bio-based materials replace fossil-based resources with less emissions and waste. It is intrinsically more efficient than the linear economy”, added Pavel Misiga (European Commission, Head of the Circular Economy and Bio-based Systems Unit, Directorate “Healthy Planet”) and on the EU support to deployment of bio-based solutions and transition in the next periods: “It can be expected that there will be a growth of the bio-based economy as a consequence of the demand for bio-based solutions. A part of the support is provided by the Bio-Based Industry Joint Undertaking public-private partnership for example. The circular bio-based Europe programme under Horizon Europe with the InvestEU financial instrument provides €11 billion for research & innovation investments.”

In total, the InvestEU is expected to mobilise at least €650 billion in additional investment between 2021 and 2027, to support four main policy areas: sustainable infrastructure; research, innovation and digitisation; small and medium businesses; and social investment and skills.


KETBIO: “A novel cluster model to bring KEY ENABLING BIOTECHNOLOGY research closer to markets and society”

The KETBIO project hub has attracted 1200 users over the last three years, says coordinator Dr. Kathrin Rübberdt (DECHEMA Gesellschaft für chemische Technik und Biotechnologie E.V.). In fact, KETBIO is an EU project itself, receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation Programme. Since October 2017, KETBIO supported Europe’s bioeconomy projects by providing an online platform for networking and knowledge exchange between research-industry-policy stakeholders, as well as organising conferences and webinars.

“This KETBIO project aims at establishing a novel cluster model of biotechnology research projects under HORIZON 2020 to enhance and demonstrate the impact and the outreach of EU funded key enabling biotechnology research. All impact of research is reflected in an appropriate up-take of research outputs through business and society at large as well as through integration into technological and societal systems, the here proposed novel clustering model will thus act as a pivot trajectory to achieve a maximum of these goals for the biotechnology: The proposed cluster will strive to further Research & Technical Development and innovation through networking and alliance forming and through capacity gains of cluster members. The envisaged clustering of projects and linkage to knowledge transfer activities will allow accelerated industrial exploitation of results through partnering and will maximise impact through exploiting synergies in knowledge transfer and communication. Supporting and coordination activities of KETBIO will lead to the set-up of an actively managed cluster-network of projects facilitating sharing of insights, mutual learning, working group exchange, partnering with industry, dissemination of results and exploring of exploitation pathways.” (CORDIS)


Last but not least, we are delighted to announce that SUSBIND is part of the KETBIO Flagship BookletA project showcase that is available online now!

(C) KETBIO Flagship Projects (online booklet)


Author: Dr. Stefan Weiss

Dissemination & Communication / RTDS Group


Further events with SUSBIND participation:

Stakeholderdialog Biobased Industry (Vienna, Austria)

BBI JU Stakeholder Forum 2019 (Brussels, Belgium)

European Summit of Industrial Biotechnology 2019 (Graz, Austria)

Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) – A valuable, bio-derived platform chemical

Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a promising bio-derived platform chemical for value-added chemicals. For a sustainable development, the use of renewable resources must be enhanced and more sustainable ways for chemical production must come into focus. Lately, the realization of industrial scale HMF production has gained much more attention.

Carbohydrate conversion to HMF

HMF combines the structure of furfural and furfuryl alcohol; it has a hydroxyl and aldehyde group as well as a furan ring. The acid catalyzed dehydration of monosaccharides, e.g. fructose or glucose, results in the formation of HMF. Generally, the HMF formation is described as the removal of three water molecules from the sugar molecule.

Figure: Dehydratisation to HMF and rehydration of HMF to side-products levulinic acid and formic acid

Two different mechanisms, one involving a cyclic and one an acyclic route were proposed for the HMF formation by the scientific community. A definite proof for either of the two mechanistic routes is yet to be found. Several kinetic studies investigates the HMF formation, their contribution is not limited to shedding light on the mechanistic behind the HMF formation, but they also provide valuable insight for the development of optimum reactor configurations and process conditions.

Recent process developments

Recently, the realization of industrial scale HMF production processes has gained much more attention and an increasing number of HMF production methods have been patented in the last couple of years. Several adjustments to existing production methods have been made to improve the chemical and economic efficiency of the HMF production processes. The production methods can roughly be divided in the main research fields: operational aspects (operating mode, reactor design), solvent system (single-phase systems, biphasic systems), catalytic systems (salts, acid ion-exchange resins) as well as feedstock selection and conversion (isomerase enzyme, partial conversion endpoint, producing HMF from by-products).

A first-small scale, commercial production plant using hydrothermal carbonization is operating since 2004. The production of HMF still faces some challenges regarding yield and sustainable and economic process designs.

Challenges in HMF production

The formation of side products, especially of solid condensation products (often referred to as humins) still pose immense problems in the up-scaled HMF production. In addition the separation of HMF from the reaction media and its subsequent purification causes difficulties due to the thermal lability of HMF.

Potential of HMF as value-added platform chemical

HMF is often referred to as promising bio-derived platform chemical, because it has the potential to replace a large range of conventionally produced building blocks. Due to the anticipated enormous market potential, HMF is often called a “sleeping giant”. The HMF derivative, 2, 5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) was listed by the US Departments of Energy as one of the twelve top value-added chemicals in 2004. In addition, HMF derivatives such as 2, 5- (bishydroxymethyl)furan or 2,5-diformylfuran are promising crosslinkers in the resin production.

Check out the publication from Wood K plus & BOKU for more details on the current situation of the challenging scale-up development of hydroxymethylfurfural production.

Find the current full open access publication here. For more information on the potential of HMF and its derivatives in the adhesive production stay tuned for the follow-up blog post.



DI Catherine Thoma, BSc.

Junior Researcher, Area Wood Materials Technologies

Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH, Wood K plus


Johannes Konnerth, Wilfried Sailer-Kronlachner, Pia Solt, Thomas Rosenau and Henrikus W.G. van Herwijnen


Related Blog Articles: 

International Day of Women & Girls in Science, Wood K plus portrays two dedicated researchers – Pia & Catherine

Laboratory-scale Carbohydrate Conversion Reactions, Production of carbohydrate-based binders for wood products

International Day of Women & Girls in Science – 11th February 2020

In the context of this year’s International Day of Women & Girls in Science, SUSBIND partner Wood K plus portrays two dedicated researchers – Pia & Catherine.

© Wood K plus, DI Dr. Pia Solt-Rindler (left) and DI Catherine Thoma (right)


Pia Solt-Rindler is a senior researcher at the area Wood Material Technologies of SUSBIND partner Wood K plus, a leading research institute in the area wood and wood-related renewable resources. She is specialized in alternative adhesive systems used for wood-based materials. Her focus is on the development of formaldehyde-free adhesives but also on bio-based adhesive systems.

Catherine Thoma is a junior researcher, who has a background in technical chemistry and specializes in material science. Her research interests involve carbohydrate conversion and sustainable production of carbohydrate-based resins for wood-based panels.

What does an ordinary day as researcher look like?

Pia Solt-Rindler: The question of an ordinary day is quite difficult to answer. Depending on the project and its status, my working day can variate from developing a new binder in the laboratory, to testing and analyzing its properties to evaluating data behind the computer. Nevertheless, there are also calmer days when the time can be used to write reports or publications. However, exactly this versatility makes my job so diverse, that is why I like it so much.

Catherine Thoma: As a junior researcher in the SUSBIND project, I focus my research on the development of a bio-based binder and the subsequent material testing methods. This included an extensive literature research on the current state of the art at the beginning of the SUSBIND project. Right now, I mainly work in the lab, where I enjoy working with different testing and production methods.

What do you like best about you work?

Pia Solt-Rindler: Wood K plus is a research institution that is located at the interface between university research and industry. I enjoy it a lot to work as this kind of connection, to be able to do research on the one hand, but always with the economic aspect in the background. Everything we do has a deeper purpose, either economic or ecological.

Catherine Thoma: I like the meaningfulness and variation of the research work the most. In the development of a new bio-based binder a lot of different testing methods have to be applied and the results contribute to our overall understanding of this topic.

What do you like most about being part of the SUSBIND project?

SUSBIND as a collaborative European research and innovation project brings together partners from six different EU countries. Getting the chance of working in such an international project and contributing to a more sustainable world by developing a bio-based binder for wood-panel boards is what we like most.

How many women work in researcher positions nowadays and is there a need for improvement in the equal distribution of genders in this context?

At Wood K plus, over half of the employees are women. We do not have any special subsidies for our female employees, but instead we focus on absolute gender equality.


Authors: DI Dr. Pia Solt-Rindler, DI Catherine Thoma, BSc.

Senior Researcher/Junior Researcher, Area Wood Materials Technologies

Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH, Wood K plus


Related Blog Articles:

Recently published Open Access Manuscript, Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) – A valuable, bio-derived platform chemical

Laboratory-scale Carbohydrate Conversion ReactionsProduction of carbohydrate-based binders for wood products

Stakeholderdialog Biobased Industry: “Wood – Bioeconomy’s backbone”

This years’ Stakeholderdialog, organized by the Austrian BMVIT in cooperation with the Fachverband der Chemischen Industrie Österreichs (FCIO) at the Wirtschaftskammer Wien (WKO), focussed on new applications, innovative products and technologies in the context of wood-utilisation. Highlighting the FTI-initiative Produktion der Zukunft as well as projects such as SUSBIND funded by the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) and Austrian bioeconomy strategies.


(C) RTDS – Portrait: Stephen Webb (RTDS), Gerold Schneider (FRITZ EGGER GmbH), Christian Hansmann (Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH), Roxana Weiss-Anton (RTDS), Erik van Herwijnen (WoodKPlus), Moritz Bühner (FRITZ EGGER GmbH)


Austrian Bioeconomy Strategies for a Sustainable Development

During the one-day event, attended by approximately 50 participants from the Austrian research and industry environment, Stephen Webb (RTDS) and Moritz Bühner (FRITZ EGGER GmbH & Co. OG) presented the goals and aims of SUSBIND’s sustainable bio-based binders for wood boards to the audience in a shared presentation, hosted by Astrid Reinprecht (ÖGUT). SUSBIND was also presented at the so called “Marktplatz” in parallel to its twin project SUSFERT.

Further information: OPEN4INNOVATION / “Nachhaltig Wirtschaften


Author: Dr. Stefan Weiss

Dissemination & Communication / RTDS Group

BBI JU Stakeholder Forum 2019

This year Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) invited RTDS to represent SUSBIND during the highly anticipated Stakeholder Forum in Brussels, where around 650 participants from over 48 European countries were expected to visit the exhibition halls of the venue “The EGG” (Brussels Capital Region’s “Centre of Cultural Industries”) near the Brussels South Station.

“BBI JU is the public private partnership between the European commission and the Bio Based Industries Consortium representing the bio-based industry in Europe, investing € 3.7 billion in research and innovation with an expected impact on science and technology, but also addresses key challenges in the bio-based sector in Europe.“ Philippe Mengal (Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking, Executive Director)

The event was organized by the BBI JU as Stakeholder Forum 2019. During the two-days event, selected projects funded by the BBI JU programme under horizon 2020 were presented on stage for BBI JU’s stakeholders on day 1 and at project stands open to the public audience during day 2. Over 90 projects from all types of actions have been presented – 53 Research and Innovation Actions (TRL3-5), as well as Innovation Actions in 27 Demonstration (TRL6-7) as well as 11 Flagship projects (TRL8). In addition, Coordination and Support Actions such as the European Bioeconomy Library, Pilots4U or LIFT demonstrated, how to bridge the phase from lab-developments and market introduction, thereby helping to unleash the full potential of project results as a contribution to a more sustainable and competitive bio-based industry in Europe.


(C) RTDS – BBI JU Stakeholder Forum and Projects Day 2019


Discussion of Potential Partnerships on Circular Bio-based Europe (CBE) and the Role of Dissemination & Communication in Bioeconomy

Amongst the invited key speakers, Eleni Zika (Head of Programme, BBI JU) actively promoted the development of a sustainable circular bioeconomy in Europe, while Jürgen Lucas (Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission) elaborated on the common understanding in bio-based innovation systems and new local value from waste and biomass by introducing circular bio-based solutions.

“Consumers want a gradual transition from fossil based to bio-based alternatives.” Christine Lang (Chair of the German Bioeconomy Council)

Sylvia Schreiber (Economist & Science Communicator, KETBIO Biotech Transfer & CommBeBiz) and also Nelo Emerencia (Director of Programming, Bio Based Industries Consortium BIC) stressed the importance of communication to create awareness and involvement of citizens in particular.

“The industry is not the first to address the citizens. They must be addressed by their hearts not on a rational level only.” Nelo Emerencia (Director of Programming, Bio Based Industries Consortium BIC)

“We are in the transition phase passing from BIO WHAT? to BIO HOW? to BIO ACT!” Susanna Albertini (Found and Managing Director, New FVA Media Research)

Each session during the stakeholder forum was finished with an interactive live discussion at the forum (online tool: collecting questions and input from the audience using their smartphones. Thereby the panel discussion was enriched and further pushed onwards. Moreover, the whole event was well documented, and feedback from the audience will be published via the BBI JU website and social media profiles such as Twitter (@BBI2020 #BBISF19).


Author: Dr. Stefan Weiss

Dissemination & Communication / RTDS Group

European Summit of Industrial Biotechnology 2019

The Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib GmbH) organized the European Summit of Industrial Biotechnology” (esib) for the fourth time, gathering the European biotechnology research and industry community on this communication platform for industrial biotechnology. The event not only covers science, but also addresses industrial needs and economic demands, funding resources and political aspirations, and provides the opportunity for networking in the beautiful city of Graz (Austria).


(C) RTDS – Portrait: Stephen Webb (RTDS), Martin Kavšček (ACIES BIO Ltd.), Nelo Emerencia (Director of Programming, Bio Based Industries Consortium BIC), Stefan Weiss (RTDS)


Presentations and Discussions on Trends in Science & Industry

Amongst 19 Sessions on “The learnings of H2020 and the Forecast to Horizon Europe”, “Novel Biorefinery and Biotechnology Concepts”, “Next Generation Biopolymers – Materials of the Future?” and 28 Science Flashes focusing on ideas with the potential to enter the market, SUSBIND was invited to the KETBIO Workshop: Boosting Biotech Research, were Stephen Webb (RTDS) presented the project and partake in the panel discussion with four other H2020 and innovative IB projects that encompass novel feedstocks and process technologies. Moreover, SUSBIND was presented over three days (November 18th-20th) in a twin booth with our Slovenian partners from ACIES BIO Ltd., who represented SUSFERT. Promoting SUSBIND and SUSFERT together helped disseminate both projects to a broader stakeholder group. Amongst the numerous visitors was Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) Programme Director Nelo Emerencia (Picture) and Ecoduna algae farm managing partner Dr. Silvia Fluch.

We are looking forward to the next esib in 2021, when Science meets Economy meets Politics again!


Author: Dr. Stefan Weiss

Dissemination & Communication / RTDS Group

Laboratory-scale Carbohydrate Conversion Reactions

(C) Photo Wood K Plus

Production of carbohydrate-based binders for wood products

The main task of Wood K plus in the SUSBIND project is the development of carbohydrate-based resins and other wood adhesive systems and characterization of the resins will be performed on laboratory scale. The most promising bio-based binders will then be up-scaled to pilot production and used for manufacturing P2 particleboards and medium density fiber boards (MDF).

The project partner Cargill did the selection of suitable carbohydrate feedstock. More information on the selection process can be found in a previous blog post. The selected carbohydrates are the monomers fructose and glucose as well as the oligomer maltodextrin. The investigation of conversion reactions is based on the selected feedstock.

Investigation of conversion reactions of carbohydrates

With regard to the final application in the wood board industry, the bio-based binder system must have a reduced carbon footprint and lower human health impact than the current fossil-based binder systems. Hence, special focus is put on the reaction conditions and materials used in the carbohydrate conversion reaction. The obtained reactive intermediates will be applied directly in the bio-based binder system and should meet the environmental and regulatory requirements.

The following criteria need to be assessed when investigating carbohydrate conversion reactions:

  • Sustainability
  • Reactivity of products
  • Utilization of suitable solvents and catalysts
  • Applicability for an in-situ process
  • Technical applicability in terms of large-scale production
  • Economic considerations
  • Efficient material and energy use

The conversion reaction must avoid using or generating substances that are harmful to humans and/or the environment. In addition, the chemical products of the conversion reaction have to perform in the desired way but be as non-toxic and non-hazardous as possible. In terms of reactivity, the produced intermediates must be able to crosslink in the subsequent polymerization reaction. Furthermore, the time needed for full curing of the bio-based resin should be comparable to commercial fossil-based binders with similar strength values.

In terms of the utilization of solvents, special focus is put on the utilization of the solvent in the follow-up resin production step. Water was identified as an ideal solvent that can be used in the carbohydrate conversion and the resin production.

The amount of conversion product that ends up in the final product must be maximized in order to have an economic and efficient process.

Selecting the most promising crosslinking systems

The literature was screened for the selection process of the most promising crosslinking systems based on the previously defined criteria. The carbohydrate conversion reactions will be tested in laboratory-scale to determine the practicability of the production method as well as to define the optimal parameters. The final selection of a potential precursor will be based on these results. The results of the literature screening will be topic of a follow-up blog post later this year.


Author: DI Catherine Thoma, BSc.

Junior Researcher, Area Wood Materials Technologies

Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH, Wood K plus


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