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Cancellation of the EU Sugar quota, together with the disappearance of export limitations, will generate new opportunities for sugar as feedstock for production of chemicals and materials. The SPICY Project aims to give Flanders a head start in this new biobased market.
Editorial office / Brussels

SPICY stands for Sugar-based chemicals and Polymers through Innovative Chemocatalysis and engineered Yeast. The project was approved by the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) in december 2017 and has started this month.

With a subsidy of over 2.5 million euro from the budget for cluster projects, a consortium consisting of KULeuven, UGent, UHasselt, VITO, VIB and Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant will work on the development of a technology platform for the valorisation of sugar. This cluster SBO project was created within the Renewable Chemicals program of Catalisti, the cluster for chemistry and plastics, with an emphasis on the strategic topic Sugar. The project is coordinated by Prof. dr. Bert Sels from KULeuven – COK, with support of Catalisti.

Novel biobased chemicals

The main goal of SPICY is to provide chemical industry with new or optimized processes to convert sugars into added value compounds, i.e. both drop-ins and novel biobased chemicals. Two complementary lines are hereto developed in parallel, one focusing on biotechnology based on improved yeast-strains and one based on chemocatalytic routes. Both will aspire to meet industrial standards of productivity, titer, yield and selectivity, to safeguard potential economic benefit and future industrial valorisation.

Most of the targeted platform chemicals are (potential) monomers for biobased plastics, hence, a second aim of SPICY is to deliver proof-of-concept of their usefulness by targeting novel and functional polymeric materials, typically not found in the current oil-based value chain.

Creating economic valorisation

This project has the ambition to strengthen the position of Flanders in terms of research into biobased processes and materials. The relevance of this cluster SBO project is further emphasized by an industrial advisory board, who are eager to implement the results and create economic valorisation. Current members of the advisory board include: 3M, Allnex, Beaulieu, Cargill, Eastman, EOC, Galactic, GF Biochemicals, GlobalYeast, INEOS Styrolution, Proviron, Solvay, Tereos and Tiense Suiker.