BIOMIO: Biowaste conversion to H2 and microbial oils for fuel production

Research project corresponding to the call 2020 and reference: PID2020-114740RB-C21, within the State Program of Research, Development and Innovation Oriented Challenges of the Society (Research Challenges 2020).
In the transportation sector, biofuels have driven the transition from an oil-dependent model towards a renewable scenario. Among the lipid-derived biofuels are biodiesel, hydrotreated vegetable oils biodiesel and aviation fuels. To cover biofuel production needs in the coming years, a strong demand of plant oils is expected by 2030. This increase in feedstock demand will be impossible to be fulfilled by oilseed crops due to the scarcity of agricultural areas. The production of microbial oils is envisaged as a promising alternative to meet this growing necessity. In this manner, oil-based chemistry arises as a promising alternative to petroleum for the production of sustainable fuels and chemicals.
Feedstock is determining in production costs of oil-based biofuels. The traditional use of vegetable oils and animal fats renders the production of these biofuels a substrate-limited process. Broadening the type of feedstock to be employed would be a significant step towards a more competitive process and thus facilitate larger biofuels availability for commercial use. Out of the total global waste, around 60 % comes from agricultural and industrial organic residues also known as biowastes. The use of those wastes could be an alternative low-cost feedstock that mediates an economically-viable production of microbial oils. In addition, such approach clearly follows the current general trend of circular economy requiring sustainable utilization of available resources, reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and additionally, replacing the use of fossil fuels. To this end, BIOwaste conversion to MIcrobial Oils for fuel production (BIOMIO) is the target of this proposal. The ultimate objective of BIOMIO is to maximize microbial oils production (as an energy precursor) by unlocking feedstock limitation. Two platforms (sugars and carboxylates) will be evaluated independently and combined for microbial oils production via yeast fermentation. Each of the platforms might entail additional coproducts (hydrogen and carotenoids) that could help improving the overall efficiency of the processes. With regard to the economic and social impacts of the proposed technology in BIOMIO, it could be anticipated that production costs will be as low as possible since BIOMIO relies on residual biowastes as raw materials.
Partners: IMDEA Energy Institute (Coordinator); CIEMAT
Funding Institution/Program: MCIN/ AEI /10.13039/501100011033 / Research Challenges 2020
Period: September 2021-August 2024
IMDEA Energy Institute external funding: 133.100 €
IPs IMDEA Energy: Dr. Cristina González / Dr. Elia Tomás