A-Z Knowledge on Wood-derived Chemicals

R&D Projects for the Valorization of Wood Cellulose

R&D Projects for the Valorization of Lignin from Wood

R&D Projects for the Valorization of Sugars from Wood

R&D Projects for the Valorization of Extractives from Wood

Wood Chemistry Reinventing Polymers for a Greener Future

Biopolymers Derived from Wood Extractives

Bio-based Polymers Derived from Wood-based Lignin

Bio-based Polymers from Wood Sugars

Bio-based Polymers from Wood Cellulose

Barriers to the Development of Wood Biomass-derived Bio-products

Feedstock Related Barriers

Feedstock Related Barriers

The sawmilling sector is a significant source of wood residues which can be exploited for a chemical valorization by:

  • Extraction companies which extract valuable chemicals from sawdust, knots and barks which contain high amounts of extractives
  • Pulp mill-based refineries which convert wood residues to pulp fibers, celluloses, lignin

The material yield of a sawmill is about 65% for softwoods and 45% for hardwoods. The primary processing enterprises (sawmills) are therefore companies that produce a sizable amount of waste and related products. Main by-products generated by sawmills are wood-chips (37% in volume), sawdust (30% in volume), barks (13% in volume), knots/others (20% in volume).

However, the challenges include:

#1. Lack of Sustainable Availability of Resources

The challenge lies in a sustainable and limited availability of resources related products of sawmills for a chemical valorization since they are coveted simultaneously by different sectors, such as:

  • Wood energy/pellets (barks, sawdust)
  • Particleboards (edgings, sawdust), and
  • Compost (barks)

Energy uses have come to replace uses such as materials, while the wood by-products supply did not increase leading to growing tensions over prices.

Lack of Availability of Resources

#2. Growing Demand for High-quality Hardwood Logs

Another key concern is the rising emerging economy consumption of European logs leading to the shutdown of many sawmills in Europe. As a consequence of a growing demand for timber and tighter domestic forest protection laws, China has become the world’s largest importer and processor of logs.

Taking into consideration the past 10 years, about 350 sawmill plants have shut down in Belgium, France and Germany. This is largely due to competition with non-European companies, which are buying high-quality hardwood logs to be exported and processed outside Europe, depriving European sawmills of necessary raw materials.

The consequence of this process of de-industrialization is a potential lack of a sustainable availability of wood biomass for the production of chemicals. The inadequate availability of wood biomass at the required quantity and price throughout the year is a potential challenge for European biorefineries that are being used in the production of wood bio-based products.

Technology Related Barriers

Market Related Barriers

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