Netherlands-based Researchers Create Crude Oil from Lignin

A bio-based process to create crude oil was developed by the Chemelot Institute for Science & Technology in the Netherlands. The thermo-catalytic chemical process invented at the Eindhoven University of Technology, aims to create crude oil from lignin and could soon be ready for commercialization.

Lignin is a by-product in the production of second-generation bioethanol. It is commonly burned and then used as an energy source in the same biorefinery. However, if converted into Crude lignin oil (CLO) and used as an alternative for more expensive bunker oil, the economic value of lignin increases significantly.

Crude lignin oil (CLO) will be used as a fuel for ships and boats. It is much more sustainable and environmentally friendly than bunker fuels that contain high levels of sulfur. Alternatively, CLO, just like fossil crude oil, can be converted into other valuable products such as octane-boosting additives for gasoline, as well as phenol and various polymer resins.

Work is still ongoing to fine-tune the CLO refining process to further improve the efficiency and reduce the costs. Researchers are also currently investigating variables like process temperatures, solvent concentration, and catalyst concentrations.

A multi-purpose pilot plant is scheduled to be in operation in 2018.


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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