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Could This Lignin-Based “Green Gold” Be the Answer for Sustainable Fuel?

On the path to de-carbonization, biofuels play an important part and one of them stands out in particular. The liquid lignin technology could be the answer for sustainable marine fuels.
Maersk has joined forces with a startup in Netherlands, for a demo plant that will produce sustainable fuel 7 photos
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A company in the Netherlands has patented a unique thermochemical process, through which forestry and agricultural residues are transformed into “green gold”. It comes with a whimsical name, “Goldilocks”, inspired by the idea of “the right option”. Just like the character in the story was looking for the perfect option, Vertoro has developed a stable lignin product that is easy to process, while keeping its natural properties.

According to this university-backed chemical startup, lignin (lignocellulosic biomass) is not only the most abundant and economical natural resource in the world, but it’s also highly renewable. Although biomass contains lignin in a high percentage (up to 25%), most of it is not used at all, because it’s considered difficult to process.

Vertoro has developed a simple process, in which solid lignin is heated for 30 minutes, in any commercially available organic solvent, with no need for additional catalysts. The result is a product that can be turned into various fuels and materials with high performance, due to the fact that lignin’s natural properties are preserved, through this innovative, mild method.

Maersk, one of the largest logistics companies, has partnered with Vertoro, to build a demo plant. The resulting product will be used to obtain marine fuels for Maersk. The logistics giant is on its way to becoming carbon neutral by 2050, and it has invested in other startups as well. One of them is called WasteFuel and produces green bio-methanol and sustainable aviation fuel from waste. The other one, Prometheus, focuses on air capture-technology, to produce carbon-neutral electro fuels.

The Goldilocks demo plant developed by Vertoro and Maersk is scheduled to begin operations in 2022. The goal is to completely replace fossil crude oil with the “green gold”.



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