During a single step process Embion's Ionic Catalyst "accesses" the polymeric structure of cellulose and hemicellulose within a water mixture operating in moderate temperatures. The catalyst selectively cuts the glucosidic bonds of cellulose and hemicellulose, releasing smaller parts of it as the process progresses, eventually releasing the sugars within biomass. Additionally the catalyst has the ability to dehydrate sugars further and reach furanic platform chemicals such as furfural, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and derivatives. The sugars and derivatives are separated within the liquid mixture, while the unreacted biomass, containing among others lignin, protein, oils and ash can be further valorized.
Our catalysts are based on the ionic liquids principles. Ionic liquids are novel green solvents with high thermal stability, low flammability and very low volatility. Their particular chemical properties can be tuned via the introduction of specific functional groups, allowing design of task-specific ionic liquids, which are able to dissolve biomass.
Embion's ionic catalyst platform has the capability to be easily and 100% separated and reused multiple times without any activity loss and without any traces being left in the medium. In this respect we are bringing to the market the first robust and efficient process based on ionic liquid chemistry that affords biobased products in competitive market prices.
Unlike other processes that are using organic solvents or high temperatures and pressures, our process ensures very efficient extraction of cellulosic biomass into sugars, and their selective transformation into furanics under moderate conditions.
Additionally, our catalytic platform allows to select the sugars or derivatives that are released as final products of the process. For example the degree of polymerization (DP) of the oligosaccharides can be tuned to extract soluble oligosaccharides with higher or lower DP. The process can either operate in continuous or batch mode.
Embion's process can extract cellulosic sugars and derivatives 30 times faster than current commercial processes, making it a unique proposition for processing large amounts of biomass while maintaining selectivities of the slower biological processes.
Our technology platform helps minimize waste deposited to landfill and emissions in the atmosphere by up to 80% compared to conventional valorization processes.
Our technology is protected with patents and technology knowhow. Our patents are currently in the PCT phase. For a sample of our work on ionic liquid chemistry for biomass conversion to furanics, refer to the following publications.