Brussels - Bio Base Europe has gained funding to build research and training facilities for bio-based activities, to speed up the development of a sustainable bio-based economy in Europe. On 12 Dec, Europe, Flanders and The Netherlands joined forces within an EU Interreg IV project to allocate €21 million ($28 million) to Bio Base Europe in the largest such project for the Dutch-Flemish border region.
Bio Base Europe -- a partnership between Ghent Bio-Energy Valley, Biopark Terneuzen and their respective stakeholders -- will set up a pilot plant to develop to production scale second-generation technologies to convert agricultural waste products and non-food crops such as wheat straw, corn cobs, wood chips, Jatropha and algae oils into biofuels, bioplastics and other bioproducts.
This is expected to boost the current drive towards sustainable production and also reduce the emission of greenhouse gases such as CO2.
Biopark Terneuzen in The Netherlands and Ghent Bio-Energy Valley in Belgium have each individually already built a strong reputation as bio-based enablers in the Dutch-Flemish border regions. The new Bio Base Europe partnership project is now set to transform the region into the main bio-economy gateway in Europe, said a company statement.
In bio-based technologies, the difficulty lies in scaling up these processes to production levels, said the Bio Based press release. Its pilot plant should eliminate this obstacle, by providing pilot facilities that permit scaling up new bio-processes to an industrial level. This flexible pilot plant can transform green resources into final product and will act as an open innovation centre, available for commercial companies and research institutions engaged in bio-based activities throughout the world. The €13-million facility, which will be located near Ghent, Belgium, is scheduled to start operating in the fourth quarter of 2009.
A second vital part of the Bio Base Europe initiative is a further €8 million investment in a state-of-the-art Training Centre close to Terneuzen, The Netherlands, to address an industry-wide shortage of skilled process operators and technical maintenance specialists, especially in the bio-based economy. As well as training facilities for biobased activities, the centre will provide standard and company specific, training and education focused on biobased processes. The centre, which will be operational in 2010, will also encourage networking, technological innovation and entrepreneurship and develop a public information and communication programme.