BIOeCON: Biofuels Digest’s 2015 5-Minute Guide

April 26, 2015 |

BIOeCON is a Dutch start-up R&D Company, founded in 2005, with the vision and goal of developing cost-effective technologies to convert lignocellulosic biomass into fuels and/or chemicals.

Within 5 years BIOeCON invented and patented 2 novel breakthrough technologies: Biomass Catalytic Cracking (BCC) a gas phase catalytic pyrolysis process which is the basis for the KiOR process, and a liquid phase solvent dissolution process which uses an inexpensive, recyclable solvent to dissolve and break down biomass waste into components suitable for the conversion to fuel components and chemicals.

Over the last 5 years BIOeCON has been developing the liquid phase solvent process in a joint development cooperation with PETROBRAS SA. An interesting application of the technology is the conversion of (hemi)-cellulose into sugars, which can be further converted into ethers for the production of fuel additives.

New routes under development by BIOeCON enable the conversion of solvent dissolved biomass sugars into ethanol and the conversion of dissolved biomass into zero oxygen containing “green” hydrocarbons.

Up to now the only large scale production route of “green” hydrocarbons as drop-in fuels is via the hydrogenation of triglycerides (vegetable oils) and fatty acid wastes via processes like NESTE’s NExBTL process. However the volume and supply of triglycerides and fatty acid wastes is rather limited and so the real challenge is to convert larger waste streams such as bagasse, sugar cane straw, palm waste and/or wood wastes. BIOeCON’s biomass solvent conversion technology now opens up new routes to do this.


Developing technology to enable the economical conversion of biomass wastes into higher value fuels and chemicals.


BIOeCON strives to be a Technology provider, licensing out the developed technology once the technology has been demonstrated. Partnerships with strategic partners are being pursued.

The Situation

The execution of the first phase of the technology development program (called “BiCHEM Technology”), as defined in a Joint Development Agreement between BIOeCON and PETROBRAS, started in 2010. This phase included exploratory research to validate the process on laboratory scale and was carried out at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. After completion of this first phase, by the end of 2012, the BiCHEM R&D center moved to a new and larger research facility at the center of Eindhoven to continue with phase II, which has the purpose of bringing the technology to the pilot plant scale, which will be concluded by the end of 2015.

With the continued development of BIOeCON’s liquid phase solvent process new technological opportunities have emerged and BIOeCON is presently studying several new processing schemes and valorizing the products. To continue these technology developments BIOeCON is looking for partners that are interested in the conversion of biomass waste into bioethanol and/or “green” hydrocarbons/drop-in fuels

Past milestones

BIOeCON started her breakthrough research on biomass conversion in 2006 at the Universities of Twente, Delft in The Netherlands and Valencia, Spain. The Catalytic pyrolysis technology (Biomass Catalytic Cracking) was developed in Twente and Valencia, while the liquid solvent concept was further developed at the University of Delft.

In 2007 BIOeCON and Khosla Ventures formed KiOR, which continued the R&D, development and commercialization of BCC technology concept. Since 2010 BIOeCON has not been technically involved in this process anymore.

In 2010 BIOeCON setup a joint development with PETROBRAS and founded the BiCHEM laboratory in Eindhoven. From 2010 till end 2012 the process was researched with model feeds, while from 2013 onwards the process was further evaluated with real feedstocks using pilot plant equipment. An important breakthrough was the development of a new separation process to easily separate the dissolution products, such as sugars, from the applied solvent.

Future milestones

The next milestone to be reached by the end of 2015 is the further evaluation of various new processing schemes and potential products enabled by the latest developments in the technology.

BIOeCON is in search of partners for the further scale-up and commercialization of this interesting technology.


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Category: 5-Minute Guide

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