What we do

SPOT team covers three research lines and a pilot facility

  • Sourcing & dissolution 
  • Depolymerization & fractionation 
  • Chemical modification, biopolymer design and synthesis 
  • Upscaling (Pilot)

Specific goals

  • Lignin oils as renewable building block
  • Chemical recycling of Plastics using dissolution/solvents and catalytic depolymerization
  • Design and development of polymers using lignin (oils) and biobased/circular carbon
  • Development of polymer additives using lignin (oils), and circular carbon
  • Design to recycle: thermosets for recycling

Ongoing projects

  • DELICARE: DEpolymerisation of hydrolysis LIgnin for Conversion to Acrylic REsins. The DELICARE project maximally exploits the potential of hydrolysis lignin (HL) as a sustainable source of reactive bio-aromatic compounds. Using a catalytic depolymerization we target  applications in acrylic resins. DELICARE will link upstream HL producers and downstream acrylic resins and polymer stakeholders, resulting in an optimized value chain, new economic opportunities and  new synergetic partnerships. (2023-2025).
  • CYCLOPS: Chemical recYCLing of Oxygenated Polymer materialS. The overall project objective is to develop a ground-breaking process to recycle oxygenated waste polymers, in particular PC (polycarbonates), epoxy resins (polyethers) and PET (polyesters), along with some of their blends (e.g., PC/PET, PC/ABS, PET/PE) into high added value diols and polyols for repolymerization into novel epoxy resins with improved recyclability. (2022-2026).
  • Life Viable: Valorisation of lignin bIomass into competitive components grAdually replacing BPA in the formuLation of Epoxy resins. The overall objective of the project is to demonstrate technical and economic feasibility of the use of lignin as raw material to produce epoxy-resins for applications in the field of composites for car components. (2021-2025).
  • BBI Lignicoat: Sustainable COATings based on LIGNIn resins and bio-additives with improved fire, corrosion and biological resistance. The overall objective of the project is to demonstrate technical and economic feasibility of the use of lignin as raw material to produce bio-resins for different applications in the field of functional coatings. (2021-2024).
  • Remove2reclaim: Dissolution based chemical recycling of pigmented plastics. Innovative ways of separating TiO2 from polymer dissolution media, incl. membrane filtration. Recovery/purification of polymer, additive and/or solvent. (2020-2023).
  • BBI selectiveli: polymer design and synthesis for epoxy resins using the lignosulfonate-derived phenolic compounds and aldehydes as alternatives replacing their oil-derived precursors up to the maximum possible level. (2019-2023).
  • Pillar II: Unique PILot infrastructure for innovative catalytic biorefinery of Lignocellulosic material to functional bio-ARomatics. Design and construction of the feed dissolver unit (lignin and wood) for the catalytic depolymerization Lignovalue pilot to deliver up to 240 kg/day bioaromatic oil. (2020-2022). 
  • BIORESAL: BIO-based RESins from Aldehydes and Lignin. Characterization of lignin and derived fractions, fractionation and modification to synthesize phenol substitutes for biobased LFP resins. (2019-2022).
  • Fully closed cycle for re- and upcycling of used polymers: Development of a solubility model for additives from PE, PP. Polymer cycle: Recovering intact polymer chain with minimal degradation allowing re-use (2019-2022).
  • NIBCON: Novel Integrated Biorefinery Concepts for a Carbon Neutral Bio-Economy. Development of a solubility model for lignin and its catalytic depolymerization. Development of a separation model, including membranes to assess the best separation train for a specific fraction. Techno-economic assessment of the separation train. (2020-2021).
  • OPZuid: OPZuid is focused on the further development of an interregional campus eco-system and accompanying key-infrastructure for the conversion of biomass residues to crude lignin oil (CLO) and CLO derived polyurethane and phenol. (2019-2021).
  • Doing more with Lignin: Doing more with lignin aims to upscale a process for isolation of lignin from biomass residual streams for use in the chemical industry. Characterize the lignin based fractions. Design and develop Polyurethanes using lignins and its fractions. Study impact of impurties on PU properties. Material characterization and mapping potential for adhesives. (2019-2021).
  • BioWood: A new value chain for the Flemish bio-economy through inventive wood refining towards highly valuable agro-industrial chemicals. Simulation of resource evolution until 2050 (WP1). Production of Xylo-oligosaccharides based on carbohydrate pulp by using new bioreactor concepts (WP3). Environmental toxicity of the envisioned agro-industrial applications (WP3). Sector level analysis: development and application of MooV to design the best wood-based value chain in Flanders (WP4). (2018-2021).
  • Cambium: Bio-Aromatics-Containing Macromolecular Materials for Industrial Uses. (2018-2021).
  • Lignovalue Pilot: A pilot facility for lignin/wood depolymerization into innovative, biobased aromatics in Flanders. VITO owns, coordinates and defines the technology class of catalytic processes to depolymerize lignin and lignocellulosic biomass into bioaromatics using organic solvents. (2018-2021).
  • LigninOx: Lignin Oxidation technology for versatile lignin dispersants. Post-treatment of oxidized lignin using membrane filtration, targeting enhanced plasticizer performance, improved applicability and recovery of process chemicals. Design and pilot scale demonstration of integrated membrane processes tailored  to various oxidized lignin types, considered essential for techno-economic feasibility of overall LigniOx technology. (2017-2021).

Strategic collaborations