An exciting new way of producing biomass is being scaled up
The innovative London-based company Lixea has a new and revolutionary method of separating different types of biomass. Recently, the European Union has granted Lixea SEK 25 million to build and develop a pilot plant in Bäckhammar, Sweden to scale up the process.
“We are very excited about building our pilot plant in Bäckhammar. The synergies with the local paper mill and the LignoCity test and development facility, as well as the strong forest industry in the region, make it a very promising location for us. We hope that we can collaborate with other innovative companies in the area as well as with RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, that is a trailblazer in the bioeconomy field”, says Florence Gschwend, CEO and one of the founders of Lixea.
The pilot plant aims to develop a process called Bioflex. It is a new method of separating biomaterials with the help of ionic liquids. This can be anything from wetland grass and straw residues to wood chips and sawdust. This is then broken down into lignin and cellulose that can be used for example paper, textiles, bio composites and nanocellulose.
The technology has several economic and environmental advantages compared to the technologies currently used for the same purpose.
With the goal set on a more sustainable society, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme has granted Lixea SEK 25 million to realize the new pilot plant. However, the establishment also includes an investment from Lixea.
Sweden is a global leader
The decision to move to Bäckhammar in Sweden was not obvious. Other countries and cities were also considered.
“It is the fantastic business community in the region of Värmland that made Lixea choose Bäckhammar”, says Marcus Elmer from Business Värmland.
Business Värmland is an organisation that offers functional and professional support to companies and investors who are interested in moving their business to Värmland. Together with the forestry bioeconomy cluster, Paper Province, and testbed LignoCity, they are one of many local actors who contributed to Lixea´s final choice.
“Sweden offers good conditions for scaling up technology and a has a well-functioning industry. The forest industry in Värmland, and everything connected to it, is a global world leader.”
LignoCity welcomes Lixea
The pilot plant will be set up in LignoCity’s premises, where lignin is extracted to create biomaterials. At the same time, Lixea become neighbours with the pulp and paper mill Nordic Paper.
– “We are happy to embrace Lixea and to help them. Our operators can, for example, support them in getting the pilot up and running. It will be exciting to see the development towards a finished process”, says Maria Ölmhult, project manager at RISE and LignoCity.
“The location does not only grant access to well-equipped premises, it also gives access to competence, networks, and materials. It is an optimal start for a company in this industry.”