Development of competitive, next-generation biofuels from municipal solid waste

The objective of BioRen is to develop competitive drop-in biofuels for road transport from the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW). A higher value fuel is targeted: glycerol tertiary butyl ether (GTBE) is a promising fuel additive to both diesel and gasoline that improves engine performance and cuts harmful exhaust emissions (e.g. fine dust). It can be blended in higher amounts than ethanol, without having to change the engine.
Bio-ethanol and bio-isobutanol from OFMSW are required intermediaries in this innovation path towards GTBE. Their specific business case as second generation drop-in fuel will be compared to the bio-GTBE business case, to select the most sustainable option for building a demo plant.

The BioRen consortium will develop a pretreatment method, industrial 2G Saccharomyces strains that produce ethanol and isobutanol respectively, and chemical dehydration to convert isobutanol into isobutylene. The isobutylene is converted into GTBE by adding Category 1 glycerol, another challenging waste stream. The resulting fuels (ethanol, isobutanol and GTBE) will be evaluated in engine tests to provide feedback regarding their performance, emission results, and fuel use.

This ambitious project is continuously monitored by LCA, a techno-economical assessment, and market, regulatory and IP analysis to result in a realistic business plan. The developed processes will be integrated into a revolutionary MSW treatment plant that combines the most efficient technologies of material reuse and is currently looking into optimising the profitability of its organic waste fraction.

The project consortium has all the required players to succeed: 3 RTO’s address the research challenges, 7 SMEs either bring in their technological developments or are a scale-up partner that bring the processes to at least TRL5.

ACTIVITIES of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant

BBEPP is leading WP3, which focuses on the scale-up of the ethanol and isobutanol production from the organic fraction of MSW.

In particular, Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant will:

  • Scale up the ethanol production to 5000 L scale via a simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) approach;
  • Develop an efficient purification method for (in situ) recovery of isobutanol;
  • Scale up the isobutanol fermentation to 5000 L scale for GTBE production.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research innovation programme under Grant Agreement number: 818310.