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Again we are in limelight with the MOST INNOVATIVE BIOECONOMY CEO in the WORLD

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Source: https://ilbioeconomista.com/2019/12/10/alex-michine-ceo-of-metgen-is-the-most-innovative-bioeconomy-ceo-2019/

Our readers have voted. The Blog has really seen a boom in visits.  The most innovative bioeconomy CEO 2019 is Alex Michine, CEO of MetGen, the Finnish company founded in 2008 and focused on genetic engineering and synthetic biology (you can read our recent interview with him here). Alex Michine succeeds to Ken Richards (Leaf Resources), Tony Duncan (Circa Group) and Jürgen Eck, respectively most innovative CEO 2016, 2017 and 2018.

We heartily congratulate him on this important recognition and sincerely thank our readers for the great participation in the survey. As usual, we would like to underline that the bioeconomy revolution is a reality thanks to visionary managers like Michine , the other nine selected along with him in the list of the 10 most innovative bioeconomy CEOs and to all those who in different roles contribute to research, develop and commercialize new bio-based products.

About the winner:
Alex Michine is a founder and CEO of MetGen since 2008. A serial entrepreneur, Alex has over 15 years of international experience in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and cleantech industries. He also serves on the Board of Directors of HyTest (Finland), a leading supplier of reagents for the in-vitro diagnostic market. Alex received his MBA from the Robert Kennedy College, Switzerland in 2005.
He was previously Founder and CEO of Metkinen (2002-2005), a company active in development of fermentation technologies for pharmaceutical market, and Founder and CEO of Metkinen Chemistry (2005-2008), a producer of reagents for RNA and DNA synthesis. Both previous companies are profitable and grew without external financing.

MetGen creates wave for new bio-materials. Read and discover the most exciting METNIN™ Technology for lignin valorization

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Source: https://bioplasticsnews.com/2019/11/21/metgen-metnin-most-advanced-lignin-valorization-process-bio-materials/

METNIN™ Technology combines high solubility of lignin and enzymatic treatment, designed to specifically modify and activate any lignin. Discover the potential mid-range applications (e.g. polyurethane foams, sizing and coating) of this revolutionary lignin valorization technology.

Currently, only about 2% of the lignin available from the pulp industry is commercialized, mainly from the sulfite process.

However, lignin valorization is mandatory for the commercially feasible conversion of plant biomass into industrial and consumer goods.

In fact, being able to increase the value of the lignin fraction allows for the other fractions to be processed to bio-based materials and chemicals as well – all without government subsidies.

Lignin valorization to added-value products has been a long-standing challenge of biorefineries.

Most commonly the lignin side stream from biofuel and biorefinery plants is simply dried and burnt as bio-energy carrier in incineration facilities or co generation units to generate useful secondary energy (e.g. heat and electricity).

MetGen estimates that the growing need for lignin for the production of renewable biochemicals from lignocellulosic feedstocks alone is projected to grow up to 2.9 million MT in 2017.

The current global market value for the lignin-derived products is at $3.3B, with energy capturing about 89% of the market. Other markets include Vanillin production ($192M) and cement additives ($176M).

The potential market value of new lignin‐based products is estimated to be about $13.9B by 2020‐2025, with lignin‐based phenols and carbon fibre poised to capture the largest market potential.

“Oil is No Different: One Does Not Make Car Tires, Sneakers, Insulation Panels, Dashboards, or Carpets Out of Crude Oil. They Are All Made of Refined Fractions. There is No Reason Mother Nature Would Have Made Lignin Any Different” said Matti Heikkilä, CTO MetGen

Despite recent advances in catalytic processes for the valorization of kraft lignins (the largest lignin stream by volume, representing >110 million tons per year) into aromatic chemicals, no established technology exists nowadays for its efficient depolymerization and activation of lignin.

This is due to harsh conditions for lignin isolation together with the prevalence of highly-recalcitrant intra-molecular lignin linkages, and repolymerization tendency of phenoxy radicals.

Enzymatic depolymerization of lignin into phenolic platform chemicals is envisaged as one of the potential breakthrough applications for lignin valorization.

Lignin has shown to have great potential in repacing oil in many applications: resins, polyols,  polymers, coatings, and composites to mention a few.

The key to success is to refine the complex molecules to have specific chemical characteristics that match the end-user application need.

In this respect, oil is no different: one does not make car tires, sneakers, insulation panels, dashboards or carpets out of crude oil.

They are all made of refined fractions. There is no reason mother nature would have made lignin any different.

For this reason, MetGen has developed METNIN™ lignin valorization technology to has addressed these challenges.

CASE STUDY 1: Polyurethane foam demonstrator using METNIN™ based lignopolyols

 

The current polyols used in polyurethane (PUR) manufacture are either of fossil origin and/or do not possess flame retardant properties, leading to the addition of harmful retardants to PUR mixtures.

Lignin can be considered as an aromatic macropolyol, and it has been explored for PUR manufacture previously but the poor reactivity of crude lignin has restricted its use, requiring further activation steps.

In addition, from socio-economic point of view, a global PUR market is estimated to be around 20 Mt/yr in 2020, it is thus clear that job creation potentials are large considering that every million euro gross revenue generally creates about 1 direct and 2 indirect.

METNIN™ process opens the possibility to use highly-reactive lignin products, as a drop-in replacement of fossil polyols in PUR foam manufacturing.

Furthermore, the lignin-based polyol bioequivalent possesses intrinsic flame-retardant properties due to its phenol-based structure.

Therefore, synthetic retardants (typically halogenated organo-phosphates) with health concerns, can be potentially omitted as PU additives. METNIN™ technology offers a sustainable alternative to currently applied fossil polyols in PU manufacturing (Figure 1).

Lignin-based polyols PU foams are made by reacting polyols with diisocyanates. The hydroxyl groups of substituted polyols react with the isocyanate groups to form irreversible urethane linkages.

Blowing agents (CO 2 ) and additives, such as flame retardants, are necessary to produce the foam’s cellular structure and confer the desired properties.

 

 

 

 

Figure 1 – Metnin Lignin-based polyol as a renewable alternative to fossil polyol in PUR manufacture

 

In this case study, MetGen demonstrated the preparation of liquid lignopolyols by oxypropylation of METNIN™ ULTRA lignin fraction (Figure 2).

The work was conducted by Prof. Galina Telysheva’s group at the Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry.

The anionic polymerization was conducted in the presence of potassium hydroxide as a catalyst in high-pressure laboratory-scale one-liter PARR reactor equipped by an oil thermostat. Lignin content (L/L+PO) in the reaction was between 20-40%.

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1 – The physicochemical characteristics of Metnin Lignopolyols

 

PUR foam composition were formulated by a complete replacement of commercial glycerol based polyether and sorbitol based polyether with METNIN™ lignopolyol. All foam demonstrators were obtained by free rising method (Figure 3).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3 – PUR foams demonstrator blocks manufactured using METNIN™ lignopolyols.

 

No traces of foams shrinkage were observed at complete substitution of commercial polyols by METNIN™ lignopolyols.

It was shown that all lignopolyols obtained were more reactive towards isocyanate comparing to the mix of both commercial polyethers presented in reference composition.

The significant decreasing of both start time and gel time at PUR foaming was observed for compositions containing lignopolyols.

The activity of PUR foams systems was increased with increasing of lignin content in polyols. The selected properties of the PUR foam demonstrators are listed in Table 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2 – The foaming parameters, apparent density, closed-cell content and water absorption for PUR foams.

 

Closed-cell content is a major parameter influencing the heat isolation properties of PUR foams.

In PUR foam compositions reference and lignin-based polyols containing the balance between the reactions leading to the polymeric network strength development and process of gaseous phase, liberation was optimal for closed-cell structure formation.

For all foams in the study closed-cell content was higher than 90%.

Water absorption of PUR foams is a parameter influencing the level of heat isolation characteristics decreasing alongside with exploitation duration.

The water absorption values for PUR foams containing lignin-based polyols were lower than those of reference sample that allows to characterize them as a more hydrophobic material.

The minimal value of water uptake was established for PUR foam on the basis of polyol with the most lignin content.

The correct evaluation of the lignopolyols effect on compression characteristics of PUR foams is a rather complicated task.

The deformation characteristics of PUR foam are firstly dependent on its density and secondary, from the chemical composition and structure of polymeric matrix.

The apparent density of foams obtained varied in the range 49-32 kg/m 3 that meet the requirements for PUR foams usable for heat isolation in building.

The determination of additional properties such as dimension stability at enhanced temperature, heat resistance, thermos-oxidative stability and fire resistance of PUR foams properties will be conducted later, and where METNIN™ lignopolyols are expected to contribute positively to these properties in PUR formulation.

Case study 2: Sizing and Coating

 

METNIN™ technology allows for specific control – among many other variables – over dispersity and polarity of the selected lignin fractions.

This tremendously increases their usability in coating and sizing applications. METNIN™ NANO and ULTRA lignin fractions were investigated as internal and external sizing/coating agents in pulp & paper applications to resist/repel the penetration of water into paper.

Water contact angle measurements were used to measure the angular distance between the surface of the hand sheet material and water droplet at a given point. The higher the contact angle value, the stronger the water repellency or hydrophobicity of the material.

Sizing of the pulp fibers using METNIN™ fractions has proved to produce hydrophobic/water repellent materials (Fig. 1 & 2) with improved tensile strength with the following potential advantages: simple formulation with bio-based and biodegradable components (100%), providing homogeneous coating, the formulations can be tuned for desired hydrophobicity (90 – 135º), prolonged water droplet retention time (over 30 min), improved tensile strength (10 – 20 %).

MetGen foresees the applications of modified fibers to be extruded and molded into containers bottles, vessels to store liquids, food, and water-resistant construction materials.

Formulations with METNIN™ can be applied in household products, paints, coatings, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, and cosmetic formulations.

In the first steps, we’ll address packaging materials, such as fruit boxes, to have higher moisture and water resistance.

Over the next steps, we hope to help various applications to replace plastic with fully bio-based, biodegradable and recyclable solutions.

Think of a plastic-free takeaway coffee cup that can be recycled and re-pulped as paper – giving the natural fibre multiple lives.

In the future, these materials are aimed to replace the existing non-renewable petrochemical-based materials. This widens up features such as low cost, recyclability, ease of making which will have a very high impact on lignin economy and clean environment.

 

 

 

 

Figure 4 – METNIN Lignin fractions evaluated for internal sizing. (a) Reference -water droplet easily penetrates. (b) modified – water droplet stays on the surface. (c) METNIN Lignin fractions evaluated for external sizing / coating and the fibers repel/resist water droplet.

Funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme for SWEETWOODS project under grant agreement No: 792061 is acknowledged.

An exclusive interview with Alex Michine, CEO of MetGen. “Building consumer awareness is key for the expansion of the European bioeconomy”

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Source: https://ilbioeconomista.com/2019/11/21/an-exclusive-interview-with-alex-michine-ceo-of-metgen-building-consumer-awareness-is-key-for-the-expansion-of-the-european-bioeconomy/

 

MetGen is a Finnish company headquartered in Kaarina and founded in 2008 on the core competence of genetic engineering and synthetic biology.

In this exclusive interview with Il Bioeconomista, the CEO, Alex Michine, talks about the achievements and the next steps of the company and gives us his point of view regarding the bioeconomy in Finland and in the European Union.
Interview by Mario Bonaccorso

MetGen claims that “everything that is made from oil today, can be made of wood tomorrow”. How can this be possible?

MetGen’s goal is to refine lignin and produce ‘drop-in’ replacements for fossil-based chemicals – rather than produce the same fossil-based chemicals. For example, we want to replace formaldehyde in polyurethane foams with lignin fractions. Processing wood fractions – especially lignin – is similar to prerefining oil. However, MetGen can replace complicated operations with simpler, more streamlined processes by converting side streams of lignocellulosic biomass into valuable renewable chemicals and building blocks. Our vision is to enable various industries to get the most value out of biomass, thereby helping them decarbonise.

The market of enzymes is dominated by the Danish biotech giant Novozymes. But it is a market which is attracting many chemical companies, such as BASF and Dupont. What is your strategy to grow in this market?

No single company can fully address the needs of modern biorefineries and we all need to work together to enable a variety of solutions. We are fans of open innovation and working together with other companies and Research Technology Organisations (RTOs).

At MetGen, we’re focused on customising all our enzymatic solutions to our customer process and providing a cocktail of solutions. Processed biomass is like the soup of the day – never the same. Different biomass is pre-treated with different methods and it all undergoes different processes, so we know it doesn’t make sense to create an ‘off-the-shelf’enzymatic solutions.

How does your two technologies Metnin and Enzine work?

ENZINE® is a platform combining protein evolution technology and fermentation, which significantly reduces the technology development cycle of enzymes focused on biomass. It is enzyme agnostic, meaning it can be used to create and improve any enzyme, therefore allowing for tailored solutions.

METNIN enables products made from lignin to have a reduced carbon footprint. The enzyme technology facilitates lignin valorisation in industrial and commercial applications and it is unique due to MetGen’s proprietary enzyme strain working in extreme conditions, including high temperature and pH. A versatile technology, it extends lignin’s application scope.

Frost & Sullivan recognized your company with the 2019 European Technology Innovation Award for your two enzyme technologies. What does this award mean for your company and what are your next steps to develop your business?

We were delighted that Frost & Sullivan recognised our technologies as best-in-class – it means our strategy and vision is working to enable bio-based solutions. The award also recognised the MetGen team’s hard work, which a huge boost to our team spirit.

Recognition from such a prestigious organisation naturally helps raise awareness of our technologies and helps us develop a wider customer base. The award also helps build awareness of more sustainable technologies, which will ultimately help society reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

MetGen is a Finnish company and Finland is probably one of the best places in Europe for the bioeconomy. How much is important for your business the Finnish political and economic environment?

Finland is a great place to set up a start-up, as the country has deep bio-based knowhow, especially on processing biomass in an environmentally-friendly way. What can be improved in Finland – as well as the rest of the EU – is the availability of financing for pilot and demonstration facilities. Luckily, BBI JU, the public-private partnership between the EU and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC), is a mechanism which provides this support. We hope the next Horizon Europe programme will be even bigger, as this the only way to accelerate bio-based products’ commercialisation in Europe.

And what do you think is still needed in Europe to grow the bioeconomy?

Building consumer awareness is key for the expansion of the European bioeconomy. European society needs to gain a common understanding on the importance of bio-based solutions and their impact on sustainability and circularity.

We do not believe green solutions should cost a premium price – bio-based solutions need to be widely available and competitively-priced. Brand owners should adapt their strategies to boost market pull for renewable chemicals and products. Once this happens, additional investments by private equity and banks could be injected to accelerate bioeconomy adoption.

MetGen Earns Acclaim from Frost & Sullivan for its Unique, Customized Enzyme Technologies, METNIN™ and ENZINE®

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Source: https://ww2.frost.com/news/press-releases/metgen-earns-acclaim-from-frost-sullivan-for-its-unique-customized-enzyme-technologies-metnin-and-enzine/

The technologies solve the industry’s major pain points regarding the valorization of lignin, shorter technology development cycles, and customization of enzymes for different applications

Based on its recent analysis of the European industrial enzymes market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes Finland-based MetGen with the 2019 European Technology Innovation Award for its enzyme technologies, METNIN™ and ENZINE®. METNIN™ enables complete valorization of lignin for use in various applications, allowing the products made of lignin to be more sustainable and have a reduced carbon footprint. Unlike most competing solutions, it can also depolymerize and activate lignin under harsh conditions, such as alkaline pH (pH~11). Uniquely, it helps users tailor other properties such as solubility to water or solvents, polarity, and glass transition temperature.

ENZINE®,  meanwhile, can be used to improve any enzyme, but MetGen made a strategic decision to target it at enzymes for biomass processing. This platform significantly reduces the technology development cycle of enzymes focused on biomass. Furthermore, the company’s process and business model presents flexible production options, including on-site manufacturing. Its other enzyme technologies include MetZyme®BRILA™ and MetZyme®POVON™, which can be tailored to fit applications in different industries, such as pulp & paper.

“MetGen leverages its strong R&D capabilities as well as its manufacturing facilities in Europe to meet all customer demands,” said Aarthi Janakiraman Industry Manager, TechVision. “It has signed a licensing and joint technology development agreement with several industrial partners and other technology providers to develop a full range of lignin-based products including resins, composites, bio-based chemicals, and polymers.”

The enzymes are developed to perform under challenging conditions such as high temperatures and extreme pH values, which are common in industrial biorefineries. Therefore, the enzymes can be used with process parameters beyond typical enzyme-related restrictions. Besides, the solutions enhance the feasibility of lignocellulosic chemical production, including biofuels. They also augment the sugar yields, eliminate inhibitors, and raise the overall process economy. For the water and biogas industry, MetGen has developed different enzymatic solutions that can accelerate processes by breaking down triglycerides and cellulosic materials into fatty acids and neutralizing toxic compounds like peroxides.

“MetGen is one of few companies in the industrial enzymes segment that can customize enzyme solutions for different sectors, such as pulp & paper and biorefineries. The superior features of its enzymes and its wide application landscape are its key value propositions and have increased its brand awareness among its target industry customers,” noted Janakiraman. “Ultimately, the company’s robust R&D and unmatched technology have given it the momentum needed to firmly establish itself and maintain its dominance of the industrial enzymes market.”

Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has developed a product with innovative features and functionality that is gaining rapid acceptance in the market. The award recognizes the quality of the solution and the customer value enhancements it enables.

About MetGen

MetGen Oy is an innovative biotech SME who designs, develops, supplies and markets novel enzymatic solutions and technologies around them for the most challenging of industrial conditions to meet our customer-specific needs. MetGen was found in 2008 and is based in Kaarina, Finland. The company is currently backed by some of the leading venture capital investors and industrial partners. MetGen is a member of the Bio-based Industries Consortium and a consortium member to 11 EU Horizon2020 projects ranging from R&D efforts to Flagship factories.

MetGen uses advances in genetic engineering and microbiology to adapt enzymes to harsh industrial conditions and to handle a variety of lignocellulosic substrates to fulfill the company’s mission: Empower industries to maximize the value out of biomass.

MetGen’s enzyme products – MetZymes® – are industrial, highly-active, natural catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions. They can survive in harsh industrial environments which enables novel applications and disruptive new technologies, such as METNIN™ for lignin valorization. The products and technologies are protected by international patents.

MetGen has created a disruptive technology platform, ENZINE®, to develop industrial enzymes at a world-leading speed and unparalleled efficiency. The company has achieved industrial successes with sector leaders in forest and renewable chemicals. The team aspires to be a widely recognized and preferred supplier of industrial enzymes, significantly contributing to the economics and sustainability of process industries such as pulp & paper, biofuels, and biochemicals.

MetGen is readily prepared to address the full value-chain in bioprocessing – from feedstock to consumer goods and valorization of side streams – with its MetZyme® product portfolio.

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector, and the investment community. Contact us: Start the discussion.

Contact:

Lindsey Whitaker
P: +1 (210) 477-8457
E: lindsey.whitaker@frost.com

MetGen receives John Sime Award for biotechnology 2018

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Finnish enzyme producer MetGen won the John Sime Innovation Award at the European Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB)

Recognised by their peers for their innovative bio-based solutions at the 11th Annual Forum for Industrial Biotechnology and the Bioeconomy (EFIB), Finland’s MetGen Oy received the coveted annual John Sime Award.

The John Sime Award for the best innovation presentation was received by Matti Heikkilä, CTO of Finnish company MetGen Oy from EuropaBio’s Secretary General, Joanna Dupont-Inglis and Toulouse White Biotechnology’s Founding Director Pierre Monsan in recognition of their pioneering work in designing enzymatic processes and solutions for industrial biorefineries. “We are honoured to be this year’s John Sime Award recipients,” says Heikkilä. “MetGen has collaboration written in our DNA: We always tailor the enzymatic solutions and licensed technologies to match the customer specific need. The winning technologies presented at EFIB are designed to solve value-chain-wide challenges, and they are developed in the spirit of open innovation. While the biggest thanks belong to MetGen’s team for coming up with these incredible technologies, we also owe a debt of deep gratitude to all the European collaboration partners who have shared our audacious visions and worked with us towards shared objectives. We believe, the only thing that a bioindustry revolution needs is more collaboration.”

Agnes Borg, Industrial Biotech Director at EuropaBio commented: “EFIB remains a key forum showcasing leading innovation in industrial biotechnology and the bioeconomy, and providing answers to key challenges. We are delighted to congratulate MetGen on their award and would also thank all the attendees, who together demonstrated that the drive towards building a circular bioeconomy in Europe is gathering real momentum.” 

 

 

 

About EFIB’s John Sime Award: Each year EFIB dedicates an award to John Sime who played a pivotal role in the early development of the Forum and to recognise his commitment both to the event and to the bioeconomy. John Sime’s own background as an R&D director for an SME ensured he was a keen advocate of new science and technology. To reflect this, an award is presented in his memory for the most innovative idea responding to societal and environmental challenges.

About EuropaBio: EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, promotes an innovative and dynamic European biotechnology industry. EuropaBio and its members are committed to the socially responsible use of biotechnology to improve quality of life, to prevent, diagnose, treat and cure diseases, to improve the quality and quantity of food and feedstuffs and to move towards a bio-based and zero-waste economy. EuropaBio represents 77 corporate and associate members and bio regions, and 15 national biotechnology associations in turn representing over 1800 biotech SMEs.

 

More about EuropaBio at www.europabio.org

 

MetGen’s hydrolysis and novel lignin valorisation technologies utilised in UNRAVEL biorefinery demonstrator– Driving on bark, building with nutshells

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Over the next four years the European UNRAVEL project will demonstrate a sustainable and economically feasible biorefinery for the conversion of second generation biomass into fuels, chemicals and building materials. In their efforts the partnership that comprises research organisations, SMEs and large industry from six European countries are supported by the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) which funds the UNRAVEL project with 3.6 million Euros.

The Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) and the European Union’s ‘Horizon 2020’ Research and Innovation Framework Programme, both co-funding bodies of the BBI JU, have developed strategic agendas to realise the European transition towards a post-petroleum society while decoupling economic growth from resource depletion and negative environmental impacts. A key task is the creation of novel bio-based value chains by developing new biorefinery technologies and optimising the use of sustainable feedstock for innovative added-value products that respond to market needs. The project will also contribute to the development of new building blocks for different bio-based products from biomass of European origin.

One of the major challenges in creating long-term benefits is to find sustainable and industrially viable biomass that does not compete with land-use for food production or that could pose the risk of natural habitat loss. One promising solution lies in using biomass residues that originate from forestry and/or agriculture such as bark, wheat straw or nutshells. The potential availability of these residues is substantial with estimates of around 180 Mton per year within the EU. Agricultural residues and wheat straw represent approximately half of the total available amount. Components within these residues that are of major economic interest are sugars and lignin, a substance with which bio-based materials and biochemicals can be developed. The UNRAVEL project will target sugar as compound for advanced liquid biofuels for transport and lignin for building blocks for bio-based materials, such as bio-polymers, insulation foams (polyurethane) and bitumen.

Project key facts:

UNRAVEL  started on the 1st June 2018 and will run for four years. The project is coordinated by Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and ECN (part of TNO). The consortium comprises ten partners from seven European countries.

For further details
www.unravel-bbi.eu

UNRAVEL Project Coordination Contacts:

Moritz Leschinsky      
Fraunhofer CBP
Am Haupttor
06237 Leuna
Germany
Tel: +49 (0)3461 43 9102
Email: moritz.leschinsky@cbp.fraunhofer.de

Jaap van Hal
ECN part of TNO
P.O. Box 1
1755 ZG Petten
The Netherlands
Tel: +31-(0)88-866 2652
Email: jaap.vanhal@tno.nl

UNRAVEL can also be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook:
www.twitter.com/UNRAVEL_BBI?lang=en        www.linkedin.com/groups/8678082             www.facebook.com/unravelbbi/

 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020/BBI-JU research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 792004

 

METGEN Lignin valorisation technologies applied in Bio-Based Industries project WoodZymes

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Industrial enzyme solution provider MetGen Lignin valorisation technologies are utilised in European Project WoodZymes, “Extremozymes for wood-based building blocks: from pulp mill to board and insulation products”. This is a H2020 Research & Innovation Action funded with € 3.25 million by the “Bio-Based Industries” Joint Undertaking (www.bbi-europe.eu).

The project goal is to develop tailor-made enzymes able to work under the extreme operation conditions of pH and temperature required by the wood-processing industries to remove or modify hemicelluloses and recalcitrant lignin protecting cellulose in the plant cell wall. This will enable selective valorisation of currently underutilised biomass fractions to provide high-value bio-equivalents of petroleum-derived chemical building blocks.

Enzyme application will include the recovery of phenolic compounds from enzymatic breakdown of technical lignin, and the extraction of lignin and hemicellulose compounds from enzymatic delignification and bleaching of kraft pulp. Extremophilic enzymes will also be used to valorise these compounds as bio-based precursors for adhesives in the manufacture of medium-density fibreboards, and as components of insulation polyurethane foams, as well as for obtaining renewable sugar-based papermaking additives. As shown in the figure below, WoodZymes illustrates the potential of extremozymes in the global bio-based economy, contributing to the sustainability and competitiveness of cellulose, fibreboard and polyurethane manufacture, and establishing a direct link between pulp and wood industrial sectors.

Consortium of the wood, cellulose, lignin and enzyme sectors from Portugal, France, Finland and Spain, is formed. Within this ambitious project with MetGen, a strong European cooperation is applied with world-leading companies of the sectors of pulp & paper (The Navigator Company and Fibre Excellence), fibreboard manufacture (FINSA France) and insulation materials (Soprema), several research institutes (CIB, IRNAS and IATA from CSIC), and technology centres (RAIZ, CTP and FCBA).

 

More information: www.woodzymes.eu

Follow us in Twitter: @WoodZymes

Contributing to the Bio-based Economy: The WoodZymes project covers the entire value chain from forest biomass (hardwood and softwood) to phenolic and sugar-derived equivalents of fossil-derived chemicals for the manufacture of medium-density fibreboard, polyurethane insulation foam and bleached paper, through the transformation of underutilised lignin and hemicellulose fractions extracted from pulp mills with tailor-made extremophilic enzymes.

This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 792070. The JU receives support from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Bio Based Industries Consortium.

MetGen Industrializes 4 Novel Enzymatic Technologies at Once in Integrated Biorefinery Flagship Project

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Kaarina, Finland, MetGen – industrial enzyme solution provider, is moving forward in an industrial demonstration of it’s four novel biorefinery solutions: Tailored hydrolysis solution, Enzymatic lignin depolymerization, Lignocellulosic glucose isomerization, and Glucose conversion to glucosone. The demonstration takes place as a part of partially publicly funded EU Flagship project SWEETWOODS.

SWEETWOODS is a 43-million-euro joint pilot project that was recently granted 21 million euros in funding under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme’s Bio-Based Industries financial instrument. Horizon 2020 is the biggest research and innovation programme in the world, supporting the development and introduction of new technologies. Industry consortium led by OÜ Graanul Biotech and bringing together MetGen Oy, Global Bioenergies, Tecnaro GmbH, Armacell via Ultima GmbH, Recticel N.V., 2B Srl, Vertech Group and Spinverse Oy. SWEETWODS aims at establishing a completely unique wood fractionation Flagship plant and demonstration of novel value-chains based on sustainable hardwood resource.

“Receiving the EU funding is a major victory for all parties involved in the project and a testament to our tireless efforts. Specialists representing the European Union and bioindustries ranked the project as the best of the round of financing, giving the project full marks,” describes Peep Pitk, the R&D Manager of the Estonian Graanul Invest Group.

MetGen has worked for years to create technology platforms and an ecosystem where a financially sound biorefinery concept could be materialized. MetGen‘s role in this has been two-fold: MetGen has consistently worked towards bringing the relevant technologies towards commercial readiness and in parallel played a key role in bringing together like-minded organizations under a shared vision. Teamwork in a vast network of operators has helped MetGen to identify the strongest teams and technologies to make up complete value-chains from raw materials to market. Furthermore, the close collaboration at every step along the way has allowed MetGen to identify the areas where enzymatic technologies can complement chemical and mechanical steps.

“The project allows us to produce with wood what is currently made with oil. In a matter of only a few years, consumers may have access to innovative products made out of wood-based plastics, foams, and composites.” comments MetGen’s Chief Technology Officer Matti Heikkilä.

MetGen brings to SWEETWOODS new biorefinery solutions that will be integrated into demonstration facility.

Tailored hydrolysis solution

Every biomass is unique. Therefore MetGen is ready and willing to make a tailored hydrolysis solution to address the pretreated biomass that not only provides high yields and purity for the sugar and lignin fractions but also enables value-addition to the further products.

Enzymatic Lignin Depolymerization and Modification

With first-of-a-kind Lignolytic enzymes, which not only tolerate but prefer highly alkalic conditions MetGen is able to enzymatically fractionate and activate lignin at pH 11 water-soluble conditions without organic solvents or heavy metal catalysts. Enabled by the mild conditions the valuable and specific low molecular weight fractions can be harvested using affordable and straightforward membrane technologies.

Lignocellulosic glucose isomerization

While Glucose Isomerase is one of the oldest industrial enzymes it has, until now, lacked the capabilities to function with lignocellulosic sugars. MetGen has developed a Glucose Isomerize which functions despite the inhibitors (xylose, mannose, galactose, lignin…) providing higher yields of fructose that the competing solutions achieve in purified food applications.

Glucose bioconversion to glucosone

Glucosone has been known as a rare sugar mostly used as an intermediate for antibiotics. However, when brought to affordable commodity prices it provides many useful routes to renewable chemicals: this intermediate sugar can be chemically converted to many interesting platform chemicals. Furthermore, glucose to glucosone conversion is a complete one-way reaction. If can be further hydrogenated to fructose allowing for streamlined processes without glucose-fructose separation and providing high-concentration fructose as an affordable and sustainable raw material for bioplastic applications. Glucosone is also microbiologically more inert than dilute glucose solutions, allowing many benefits in plant scale operations and engineering.

MetGen Appoints Martin Granholm as Chairman of its Board of Directors

By News

Kaarina, Finland, MetGen – industrial enzyme solution provider, has appointed Forest Industry expert Martin Granholm as Chairman of its board of Directors. MetGen serves pulp & paper and renewable chemicals markets by delivering sustainable enzymatic solutions, and Granholm brings deep expertise and experience to the company.

“Forest industry is undergoing major changes as global demand for traditional forest products shifts. While helping the forest sector adjust to changes in market needs, MetGen is also involved in building relative new industry sector – renewable chemicals. I am confident that Martin experience will have an immediate impact on the direction of the company’s strategic development. MetGen’s team is excited to have Martin on our board, and we look forward to his guidance and contributions” said Alex Michine, CEO of MetGen.”

Martin Granholm is a former Deputy CEO of UPM-Kymmene Oyj. During his 35 years in several positions in the Forest Industry, he also acted as member and chairman in the boards of various organizations in Logistics, Energy, University, and Insurance. Furthermore, he has held positions in the Chamber of Commerce organization both locally and globally.

“During my time in the Forest industry, I have seen wood as different types of fibers and chemicals. Today, when industries look for entering the bio-stage, MetGen’s enzymes provide a real key into this future – and not only in the Forest sector. The market is asking for renewable concepts, energy savings, product quality improvements and environmentally friendlier solutions. MetGen is perfectly positioned in this development. I look forward to participating in building on this opportunity together with the board and the whole MetGen organization “, said Granholm

Vuoden 2018 teknologiajohtajat valittiin: Planmecan Vesa Varjonen ja MetGenin Matti Heikkilä ovat vaikuttaneet suomalaisen teollisuuden uudistumiseen

By News

Lehdistötiedote
Embargo 16.3.2018 klo 9.00

Suomalaisista teknologiavaikuttajista koostuva tuomaristo on valinnut vuoden 2018 teknologiajohtajiksi Planmecan teknologia- ja tutkimusjohtajan Vesa Varjosen ja MetGenin teknologiajohtajan Matti Heikkilän.

Vuodesta 2010 lähtien myönnetty tunnustuspalkinto jaetaan 19.3. suuryritysten ja pk-yritysten kategorioissa. Tällä kertaa valinnassa painottuivat yritykset, jotka ovat omilla toimillaan uudistaneet suomalaista teollisuutta. ”Suomen teollisuus on voimakkaassa muutoksessa, ja pk-yrityksillä on tärkeä rooli uuden liiketoiminnan kasvattamisessa. Planmeca ja MetGen ovat tästä huippuesimerkkejä: Planmeca on tutkimukseen ja tuotekehitykseen panostamalla ja digitalisaatiota hyödyntämällä luonut koko alaa uudistavia innovaatioita. MetGen taas on lähtenyt rohkeasti kehittämään täysin uutta teknologiaa kansainvälisille markkinoille ja kyennyt rakentamaan vaikuttavan kumppaniverkoston taakseen, kuvaa tuomariston puheenjohtaja Laura Juvonen Teknologiateollisuus ry:stä.

Suomalaisen terveysteknologian vientiä maailmalle: Planmeca

Planmeca on yksi maailman johtavista hammashoitolaitteiden valmistajista, jonka tuotteita viedään yli 120 maahan. Vuonna 1971 perustettu terveysteknologiayritys on malliesimerkki yhtiöstä, joka kehittää dynaamisesti maailman johtavaa teknologiaa – yrityksessä kiteytyy suomalaisen valmistavan teollisuuden uudistuminen. ”Planmeca ei ole yrityksenä ikinä valmis, eivätkä tuotteemme koskaan lakkaa kehittymästä. Ilman tätä mentaliteettia innovointi organisaatiossa kuolee”, toteaa Planmecan perustaja ja toimitusjohtaja Heikki Kyöstilä. Terveysteknologia-ala kasvaa Suomessa ja liikevaihdosta suurin osa tulee viennistä.

Vesa Varjonen on työskennellyt jo yli 25 vuotta monenlaisissa tehtävissä lääketieteellisen kuvantamisen parissa. Planmecalla vuodesta 2004 työskennellyt Varjonen nousi teknologia- ja tutkimusjohtajaksi vuonna 2015. ”Kasvuhalu ja motivaatio huokuvat esimerkin voimasta. Vesa Varjonen on tällainen esimerkki. Hänessä yhdistyvät vahva osaaminen, teknologian ja tutkimusmaailman syvä ymmärrys sekä vuosikymmenten ammattitaito”, Kyöstilä kertoo. ”Nopeasti kehittyvässä maailmassa toimijoiden yhteistyön merkitys korostuu entisestään, ja tässä Vesan rooli on tärkeä. Vesa onkin aktiivisesti mukana tekemässä yhteistyötä eri yliopistojen, tutkimusryhmien ja startup-yritysten kanssa.”

Varjonen on koulutukseltaan lääketieteellisen tekniikan diplomi-insinööri. ”Palkintoraadin keskustelussa nousi myös esille, kuinka tärkeää monialainen koulutus ja osaaminen on tulevaisuuden teknologioiden kehittämisessä ja hyödyntämisessä”, toteaa Juvonen.

Malliesimerkki uudistavasta voimasta: MetGen

MetGen Oy on entsyymituottaja, jonka tuotteet palvelevat laajaa kirjoa toimijoita sellu- ja paperiteollisuudesta jätevedenpuhdistamiseen sekä biopolttoaineisiin. Cleantech-yrityksen valmistamien entsyymien valttikortti on geneettinen räätälöinti, joka auttaa niitä kestämään vaativiakin olosuhteita. MetGen on kyennyt kokoamaan merkittävän määrän julkista rahoitusta kehittääkseen kumppaniensa kanssa uusia kestäviä tapoja parempaan raaka-aineiden käyttöasteeseen ja prosessien parantamiseen.

”Teknologiajohtaja Matti Heikkilä on henkilönä erittäin hyvä verkottuja. Hän ei pelkää lähestyä isojakaan pelureita, mikä on tärkeä ominaisuus kasvukiidossa olevalle pk-yritykselle. Heikkilä on roolimalli muille pk-yrityksien teknologiajohtajille näyttäessään, kuinka uusia ekosysteemejä rakennetaan EU-tukea hyödyntäen ja miten Suomea uudistetaan luomalla uusia, kestäviä ratkaisuja teollisuuteen”, toteaa Juvonen.

MetGenin vahvuuksia on uusien ratkaisujen tuominen laboratorioista markkinoille. Useissa tapauksissa juuri Heikkilä on ollut ajamassa uusia tuotteita nopeasti käytännön sovelluksiin. ”Matti on käytännössä omin käsin luonut kokonaisen arvoketjun tyhjästä. Hän jatkaa edelleen periksiantamattomalla sykkeellä uusien teknologioiden luomista myynnin tukena”, kertoo MetGenin toimitusjohtaja Alex Michine. Heikkilän ansioiksi voidaan lukea MetGenin tuotekehitysalusta, jonka avulla MetGen kykenee tuomaan uusia tuotteita ideasta markkinoille alle viidessä kuukaudessa – maailman johtava tehokkuus alalla. Hänen johdollaan tuotteiden valmistusprosessin päästöt on saatu minimoitua käytännössä nollaan.

Heikkilä vastaa päätoimensa lisäksi MetGenillä markkinoinnista ja uusien liiketoimintojen kehityksestä. ”Matin rakentamat ekosysteemit maksimoivat kaikkien tahojen saaman hyödyn. Hänellä on uskomaton kyky muovata kokonaisia toimialoja visiollaan”, Michine hehkuttaa. ”On ällistyttävää, kuinka hän kykenee välittämään visiomme niin yrityksen sisällä kuin rahoittajienkin keskuudessa, erityisesti niinkin kompleksisella alalla kuin biotuoteteknologiassa.”

Lisätietoja:

Palkintolautakunnan sihteeri Pekka Koponen, puh. 040 545 0008

Planmeca                                                                                                                                           
Vesa Varjonen
Vice President, Research and Technology
vesa.varjonen@planmeca.com                                                                                        
0408658865

MetGen
Matti Heikkilä
CTO
matti@metgen.com
0403540701

Business Finland                                
Pekka Soini
Pääjohtaja
pekka.soini@businessfinland.fi
0405252169

Teknologiateollisuus ry
Laura Juvonen
Johtaja, kasvu ja uudistuminen
laura.juvonen@teknologiateollisuus.fi
0405896263

Spinverse
Pekka Koponen
Founder, CEO
pekka.koponen@spinverse.com
0405450008

Vuoden teknologiajohtaja -tunnustuspalkinto jaetaan jo kahdeksatta kertaa tunnustuksena teknologiajohtajalle, joka on työllään vaikuttanut yrityksensä teknologiakyvykkyyteen ja kasvumahdollisuuksiin, toimii inspiroivana johtajana sekä vaikuttaa aktiivisesti yhteiskunnallisissa verkostoissa. Palkinnon saajan valitsee Suomen teknologiavaikuttajista koostuva tuomaristo. Tuomariston puheenjohtajana toimii johtaja Laura Juvonen Teknologiateollisuus ry:stä. CTO-Forum on Suomen teknologiajohtajien yhteisö, joka kokoaa Suomen eri yritysten innovaatio- ja teknologiajohtajat verkostoitumaan, keskustelemaan ja jakamaan ideoita yli toimialarajojen. CTO-Forumin tavoitteena on kasvattaa yritysten ja teknologiajohtajien tekemän työn arvostusta ja tunnettuutta. CTO-Forumin järjestää ja tunnustuspalkinnon jakaa yhteistyössä Business Finland, Teknologiateollisuus ry ja Spinverse.

www.ctoforum.fi