01-01-2018 - 30-10-2020 /
Alkmaar, The Netherlands

Black Birds: combined thermochemical and catalytic processing adapted for the production of high-value products and energy from lignin

Black Birds: combined thermochemical and catalytic processing adapted for the production of high-value products and energy from lignin

Black Birds is a Dutch TKI project that considers low-temperature gasification for the valorization of lignin residues from biomass fractionation processes. High-value compounds like bio-ethylene and bio-aromatics are harvested from the product gas instead of being just converted in syngas by using novel co-production technologies (adsorption, absorption, and catalytic conversion). Gasification thus becomes a ‘thermochemical biorefinery’. The combined application of low-value biomass and co-production schemes eventually results in a reduction of the production cost of green gas and biofuels.


In the Black Birds project Biorizon co-initiator ECN studies the thermochemical valorization of lignin from different biorefinery processes. For example lignin from Avantium’s novel Zambezi and Viride’s Green Pellet processes. We will also take a step forward in the implementation of co-production of chemicals and bio-SNG by upscaling a number of novel technologies for the harvesting of high-value chemicals like bio-aromatics (BTX) and bio-ethylene from gasification product gas. Suitable applications of the bio-BTX product, with focus on the feasibility of production of monomers from bio-BTX, will be evaluated.

The implementation of these new co-production technologies will eventually result in an overall decrease of the production cost of bio-SNG. By using lignin, a low-cost by-product of biorefinery processes, and by harvesting ethylene and bio-aromatics as a co-product the benefit will be realized both at the feedstock and product sides. The gasification plant thus becomes a “thermochemical biorefinery”, where a variety of products can be harvested or produced from the biomass or residual feedstock. The research and demonstration work will be complemented by a cross-cutting techno-economic and market analysis of the overall process.

In order to fulfil these ambitious objectives, a strong consortium that covers the whole value chain has been formed. In close cooperation with the end-users, the BTX samples produced in the project will be tested against market specs, and a vision will be developed on how to best incorporate relatively small streams of bio-based aromatics in the production systems and in the market. Besides the close strategic interaction with Avantium’s Zambezi pilot plant and the Ambigo project, Black Birds is also part of the network of the Biorizon program (, which will maximize the impact of our results.


For more information on the Black Birds project please contact Katharina Andres via or +31 (0)6 30 24 27 64.

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This project is made possible by a contribution from the European
Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the framework of OP-Zuid.

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