Looking at Superior Lignin

Sonichem Lignin resin extracted from sawdust

Looking at lignin in a new light

It’s well known in the biorefinery community that lignin is an untapped renewable resource of useful chemical building blocks, but creating value out of this incredibly long polymer has, until now, been a chemist’s nightmare. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a more manageable lignin preparation to start with? Read on to learn about the low molecular weight option that Sonichem’s ultrasonics can conjure up.

Lyrical about lignin

First of all, let’s dig a little deeper into lignin. One thing for sure is that it’s abundant, making up around 15 to 30 % of the dry weight of plant cell walls 1. On top of that, it’s a non-toxic, renewable and biodegradable source of small aromatic compounds that could potentially replace many fossil fuel-derived chemicals in the high value materials, coatings, cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries. In 2019 alone, the global lignin market was valued at an astounding figure of over $900 million, and it is expected to continue growing.2

A little lignin goes a long way

However, looking more closely at the current pipelines feeding into lignin production, it’s clear that industries are not making the most out of this natural polymer, and many higher value applications are being overlooked. For example, the pulp and paper industry generates over 50 million tons of what is termed ‘Kraft lignin’ every year, but most of this is burnt as low value fuel – causing serious environmental pollution – and only 2 % goes on to create high value chemicals.3 This is largely because Kraft lignin is hard to process, a stumbling block that is preventing it being used to make materials such as carbon fibres, phenolic resins, binding and dispersing agents, vanillin, cement additives and more.4

The lingering problem with bulk lignin   

The processing challenges associated with Kraft lignin include huge and variable molecular weights, low reactivity, poor solubility in common solvents, and 2-3 % sulfur levels that severely limit its use.5 This means that a tedious series of steps is required – known as ‘lignin upgrade’ – to break up the long polymers into lower molecular weight monomers and oligomers, improve the reactivity and solubility by chemical modification, and remove any sulfur. This complex and unwieldy process uses up energy and produces waste, and is neither economical nor practical for dealing with high volumes, but this is where Sonichem’s ultrasonic processing technology fits in.

This is not just lignin, this is Sonichem's superior lignin.

Sonichem’s proprietary ultrasonic process break the chemical bonds in long lignin polymers, resulting in a novel alternative that has an exceptionally low molecular weight of 1,000 gmol-1 – four times smaller than typical Kraft preparations – enhanced reactivity, is soluble in a range of common solvents including ethanol, and is sulfur-free. This ground-breaking technology has unleashed the true potential of a natural asset; the resulting superior lignin can be processed with greater ease into a seemingly endless list of materials, resins, coatings and chemical additives, giving them hydrophobic, UV blocking, flame retardant and antimicrobial properties, and, ultimately, offering chemists a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.


  1. Higuchi T, Chang HM, Kirk TK. Recent advances in lignin biodegradation research. Published online 1983.
  2. Lignin Market Size & Share | Industry Report, 2020-2027. Accessed January 25, 2023. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/lignin-market
  3. Dexter GN, Navas LE, Grigg JC, et al. Bacterial catabolism of acetovanillone, a lignin-derived compound. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022;119(43):e2213450119. doi:10.1073/PNAS.2213450119/SUPPL_FILE/PNAS.2213450119.SAPP.PDF
  4. Sinha AK, Sharma UK, Sharma N. A comprehensive review on vanilla flavor: Extraction, isolation and quantification of vanillin and others constituents. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2008;59(4):299-326. doi:10.1080/09687630701539350
  5. Evdokimov AN, Kurzin A v., Fedorova O v., Lukanin P v., Kazakov VG, Trifonova AD. Desulfurization of kraft lignin. Wood Sci Technol. 2018;52(4):1165-1174. doi:10.1007/S00226-018-1014-1/METRICS

Hiring a Project Manager

Project Manager Role

We are looking for an experienced Project Manager to be responsible for leading project management for the design and delivery for our First-Of-A-Kind Commercial Plant (FOAK CP) and projects involving the expansion and development of the Sonichem (previously known as Bio-Sep) Pilot Plant Facility located at Melton Mowbray.

Reporting to the Principal Process Engineer, you will provide the technical leadership for project management and be the focal point for all engineering projects.

Sonichem (previously Bio-Sep) is a clean technology company based in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. We have developed a patented sustainable, ultrasonic biorefining technology that transforms woody biomass, the by-product of forestry and agriculture, into high value bio-based chemicals with a wide range of applications. This is a fantastic opportunity to join an organisation with ambitious plans in the sustainable biorefining sector.

Why Sonichem (previously Bio-Sep)

Innovation: Be a part of cutting-edge technology development that is shaping the future of sustainable bio-based chemicals.

Growth Opportunities: Join a team with ambitious plans in the sustainable biorefining sector.

Supportive Environment: Collaborate with an enthusiastic, diverse and skilled team committed to excellence.

Bio-Sep is not just a company; it’s a vision for a greener future. If you are a dynamic, adaptable, analytical thinker with a passion for driving projects to success, we want to hear from you.

Key Responsibilities

Work closely with the Principal Process Engineer to ensure the highest calibre of technical and commercial delivery on all projects, and to help and support the Principal Process Engineer as required.

Develop and implement an in-house Engineering Project Management System based on best practices and industry standards.

Develop a project excellence model to ensure consistently excellent project delivery for the company including project management based KPIs.

Act as the focal point and lead with Engineering Contractors, Original Equipment Manufacturers, Engineering Design Contractors and EPCs.

Support the Principal Process Engineer in the pre-feasibilty and concept phase of the FOAK CP and preparation of the documentation suite for tendering the FEED and EPC.

Be the key lead in determining the tender/contract strategy for the EPC contracting award for the FOAK CP including the scoring and evaluation of submitted bids.

Develop, agree and approve the project management strategy with the potential EPC Company for delivery of the FOAK CP. Ensuring the supply chain is fit for purpose, selection of competent and reliable suppliers, elimination of single points of failure and systems are in place to monitor and record supplier performance.

Be the project management lead for grant funded collaborative R&D projects ensuring compliance to funding requirements.

Ensure company financial controls are adhered to across all sanctioned projects.

Ensure project deliverables are completed and presented in a professional manner, to include quality of information, written, drawn and verbal.

Support the executive team in research grant applications.

Support the CEO in business and investment project management activities.


You will be qualified in a relevant Engineering and/or Project Management discipline.

Professional qualification with relevant engineering and/or project management bod

Circa 10 years’ experience gained in an engineering project management environment, ideally with an EPC or projects department in the process industry.

Competent and experienced in using MS Project.

Experience of managing grant-funded projects and their reporting requirements is desirable.

This role allows for a hybrid working arrangement.

Please apply via our Linkedin application process or send an email with your CV and a cover letter to info@sonichem.com

We are Hiring a Lab Supervisor

Based at the pilot plant site at Melton Mowbray, the Lab Supervisor will have day-to-day responsibility for leading a small team of chemists to carry out R&D and QC analysis of samples from our pilot plant, kilo-scale reactor and downstream separation and purification equipment. Working with our Chief Chemist, you will support development of R&D plans and workload scheduling for the chemistry delivery team and manage safe and productive operation of the site laboratory.

Bio-Sep is a clean technology company based in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. We have developed a sustainable, ultrasonic biorefining technology that transforms woody biomass, the by-product of forestry and agriculture, into high value biochemicals with a wide range of applications. After a period of intense R&D activity, we are now ready to scale up and commercialise our technology and we’re seeking a talented Laboratory Supervisor to join our growing team.

Based at the pilot plant site at Melton Mowbray, the Laboratory Supervisor will have day-to-day responsibility for leading a small team of chemists to carry out R&D and QC analysis of samples from our pilot plant, kilo-scale reactor and downstream separation and purification equipment. Working with our Chief Chemist, you will support development of R&D plans and workload scheduling for the chemistry delivery team and manage safe and productive operation of the site laboratory.

Reporting to the Chief Chemist, your main duties and responsibilities will be to:

  • schedule workloads and work as part of the chemistry team to develop and deliver research plans and QC/analytical data
  • support the development of other chemistry team members and the capabilities of the laboratory
  • lead on all aspects of health and safety in the laboratory including COSHH and risk assessments
  • lead on good data recording, calibration and SOPs
  • manage training logs and equipment servicing and keep good records
  • support the design of trial plans for current and future research and lead on data gathering, analysis and process optimisation
  • accurately record all results, deviations and observations to support process development
  • work with the Chief Chemist and Marketing Director to support development of robust pathways to commercialisation for Bio-Sep products
  • work in an agile and flexible manner, responding to changing company and customer needs
  • support other activities to grow and develop the company and its technology as appropriate

Person specification

  • Experience of managing a laboratory, including leading on H&S requirements, data recording, GLP, facilities maintenance and equipment operation and troubleshooting
  • Experience of leading a small team in a laboratory setting
  • Qualified to PhD level in chemistry and/or with 2+ years’ experience of supporting the development and delivery of R&D plans
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry preferred
  • Experience of lignocellulosic chemistry and/or biomass processing preferred but not essential
  • Experience of carrying out trial procedures and using the results to solve problems and inform future research and scale-up.
  • Self-starter, able to plan the time and resources of their team to achieve desired goals, whilst managing multiple projects over different timescales with minimal supervision
  • Practical, active person with excellent problem-solving skills
  • Confident at interacting with all levels of seniority both within the company and externally
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Confident at handling and recording large volumes of data
  • Keen to learn new skills and support Bio-Sep to grow its business through access to accurate data

If this sounds like you and you share our vision of a sustainable future then apply now. Please send an email with a cover letter and your CV to andy@bio-sep.com

We are hiring an electrical fitter and pilot plant operator

we are hiring electrical fitter

We are hiring an electrical fitter for pilot plant operations. 

This is a fantastic opportunity for a driven engineer/technician to join an organisation with ambitious plans in the sustainable biorefining sector. Ideally suited for someone who wants to develop their design and operational experience with the opportunity of becoming a key support in the full lifecycle project of Bio-Sep’s First Commercial Plant.

The Pilot Plant Electrical Fitter shall be responsible for the safe and effective daily operations at the Bio-Sep Pilot Plant located at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, UK.

Reporting to the Plant Supervisor, the Electrical Fitter will provide the key support in the day-to-day pilot plant and test rig operations and maintenance for pilot scale production. Assist the team in applying the technology principles demonstrated on the pilot plant to the design and delivery of our first commercial plant (FCP).

Key Responsibilities

  • Key responsible person for safely conducting the installation, maintenance, testing and repairs of electrical systems and equipment at the Pilot Plant Facility.
  • Supporting the Pilot Plant Supervisor in safely implementing pilot plant operations, conducting batch runs and reporting results and equipment performance to support process selection decisions for the commercial plant.
  • Key point of contact with control system subcontractors ensuring all drawings and documentation is up to date and transfer of knowledge is bought in house.
  • Control instrumentation installation, calibration and diagnosis.
  • Improving and implementing SHE best practices for the Pilot Plant Facility.
  • Compiling and updating the SOPs for safe and effective operations of the equipment at the Pilot facility.
  • Housekeeping and upkeep of the Pilot Plant Facility.
  • Trouble shooting and identification of Process Optimisation opportunities following Root Cause Analysis.
  • Point of contact with 3rd party engineering support contractor. Develop and build relationship with contractor for improved equipment management and maintenace.

Skills and experience requirements

  • This is a hands-on engineering role. The ideal candidate will be from an electrical background, completed a recognised apprenticeship and demonstrate working plant operational experience.
  • Minimum 5 years’ experience as an electrical fitter or technician in a Chemical or Manufacturing environment.
  • This is a site-based role.
  • Demonstrate competence in understanding/interpreting electrical and engineering drawings.
  • Demonstrate competence in Electrical Regulations and Standards.
  • Demonstrate competence in 3 phase electrical systems i.e., electrical motors.
  • Demonstrable competence in Plant Operations, Process Safety and Process Optimisation.
  • Correct attitude and pro-active mindset. Willingness to support various tasks and requirements.
  • Excellent communication skills and demonstratable ability to work effectively with cross functional teams.
  • Experience of Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing Techniques are desirable but not essential.

How to apply

To apply now send an email with your CV to info@bio-sep.com

Please note that we can only accept applicants with the right to work in the UK.

New Joint Industry Project with iCAST and the National Composite Centre

Bio-Sep Biochemicals and Biorefinery

Bio-Sep (now Sonichem) Launches new Joint Industry Project to Fuel the  Green Revolution

Bio-Sep (now Sonichem) has begun an exciting joint industry project which aims to develop renewable, bio-sourced alternatives for existing petrochemically-derived platform chemicals, ultimately helping to meet the worldwide demand for clean technologies and contributing to net-zero carbon goals. The new venture is in collaboration with the Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST), which includes prestigious institutions such as the University of Bath and the National Composites Centre (NCC).


Bio-Sep specialises in the conversion of non-food, lignocellulosic biomass generated by agriculture and forestry into high-value biochemicals, using its unique, low energy biorefinery process. It produces a novel, non-sulfonated lignin with enhanced reactivity and low molecular weight. This new product and exclusive separation process have great potential for the large-scale manufacture of sustainable biochemical substitutes that can be used in multiple commercial applications, such as the composites and construction industries. The joint industry project aims to extensively test the properties and performance of the products, both as part of biobased composites and as a cement admixture.

Dr Andrew West, Chief Chemist at Sonichem (previously Bio-Sep), explained: “This interdisciplinary R&D project will allow us to develop and demonstrate potential applications for our non-sulfonated lignin and biorefinery process. We are very much looking forward to working with our valuable partners within iCAST, and benefiting from their global expertise and extensive knowledge in bio-based materials chemistry and composites manufacture.”

Professor Matthew Davidson, iCAST Director, added: “We are delighted to be working with Bio-Sep to accelerate innovation in this important area. It is exactly the sort of collaboration that iCAST was designed to undertake, and one of the first of around 50 joint industry projects that we plan to deliver in the next two years. By bringing together iCAST’s expertise in materials and manufacturing with innovative companies such as Bio-Sep, we aim to accelerate the deployment of sustainable technologies into commercial applications. This will in turn contribute to achieving the UK’s net zero and Clean Growth targets.”

Tim Young, Head of Sustainability at the National Composites Centre, said: “Being part of the Bio-Sep project will enable us to assess the suitability of a highly innovative, low carbon, composite material. The NCC team looks forward to assessing the feasibility of the material for use in industrial applications using our design, manufacturing and quality assessment expertise alongside our customer network, to help the material’s route to market. We are delighted to support Bio-Sep with its exciting sustainability offering for the composites marketplace, and to be part of the consortium of partners, pooling expertise and knowledge in this growing specialist area.”

Early results of the project are encouraging, suggesting that in the near future, composites and construction industries could make use of a low-carbon, renewable material, further displacing petrochemicals and improving their operational sustainability.

About iCAST

The Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST) is a unique collaboration set to deliver agile innovation in green, sustainable technologies. Bringing together experts across all the innovation stages, it focusses on bringing together industry and academia to translate discoveries into commercial application. iCAST is a partnership between the universities of Bath and Oxford, the High-Value Manufacturing Catapults (National Composites Centre and Centre for Process Innovation), the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership and SETsquared. This project is funded by Research England. icast.org.uk / @icastinfo

About the National Composites Centre

The National Composites Centre (NCC) is the UK’s world-leading composite research and development facility; where innovators come when they need to make things lighter, stronger, smarter and more sustainable. Its key focus areas are Composites, Digital Engineering, Hydrogen and Sustainability. With access to ‘beyond’ state-of-the-art technology and the best composites engineering capabilities in the world, the NCC collaborates with customers to solve the most complex engineering challenges of our time.  Part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the NCC works across all manufacturing sectors and has forged strong links with aerospace, energy, defence, space, construction, infrastructure, auto, rail, marine and biomedical. It works with organisations across the board from micro enterprises and SMEs to disrupters, the supply chain and OEMs, providing businesses with a de-risked environment to design, develop, test and scale their ideas and get them to market fast. For more information visit https://www.nccuk.com/

Creating Sustainable Composites From Sawdust

Foresty and Timber News October 2022
Sustainable composites from sawdust article

The Green Revolution, creating sustainable composites from sawdust

Forestry and Timber News, October 2022 – Wood in the Circular Economy Edition

The Green Revolution

Carbon is the backbone of so many everyday materials and products that the chemical industry producing these products accounts for around 6% of global petroleum use. Societal concerns around climate change and decarbonization are driving what industry and policy makers are calling the Green Revolution, a movement in manufacturing from black petro-sourced carbon to green bio-sourced carbon.

Global brands including Unilever, PepsiCo and L’Oreal are investing billions of pounds to remove fossil-derived ingredients from their products and packaging over the next 5-10 years, significantly increasing demand for bio-derived alternatives. However, with natural resource depletion, increasing strain on global supply chains and an ever-growing global population, there are significant sustainability concerns regarding the use of food crops in chemical production. Focus instead is shifting towards the use of low value co-products from agricultural and forestry operations as a more suitable source of biochemicals.

Against this backdrop, Bio-Sep’s mission is to maximise the value of underutilised resources. To achieve this, Bio-Sep have developed Sonichem an award-winning low-energy ultrasonic process to convert woody biomass into chemicals. The Bio-Sep process generates almost zero waste, is water-use neutral, and produces three high-value products (cellulose, sugar syrup and lignin).

Wood: Nature’s Composite

The fibrous or woody component of plants and trees is called lignocellulose. The word derives from ‘Lignum’, the Latin name for wood, and is essentially nature’s composite. Wood consists of three components: cellulose fibres together with hemicellulose form a matrix which in turn is bound together by an aromatic biochemical called lignin. In nature this complex chemical structure of three biochemicals results in a solid cell wall that is resistant to wind, water, pests, and sunlight. When separated from each other these biochemicals are known as bio-based platform biochemicals and have wide market potential.

For many years, cellulose has been extracted from wood for the pulp and paper industry. Bio-Sep’s ultrasonic process produces a crystalline cellulose which is a high value speciality chemical with applications in food and beverages, cosmetics, and performance composites. 

Lignin is the world’s second most abundant biopolymer after cellulose. It is nature’s binding material, the substance that gives plants and trees their structural integrity and strength. Its aromatic structure makes it the most suitable biochemical to replace a toxic petrochemical called phenol, which is commonly used in resins, composites, coatings, and adhesives. Fluctuations in the price of phenol due to changes in oil price, and concerns about the toxic exposure of workers to phenol during the manufacturing process, make lignin an attractive bio-derived alternative. Natural lignin could be used for a phenolic replacement to make sustainable resins for use in, for example, the chipboard industry; the chips of wood could be held together with a resin made from lignin. Lignin as an eco-substitute not only reduces the carbon footprint and toxicity for manufacturers but also provides additional performance benefits such as fire resistance and UV protection.

The UK’s composite challenge is an opportunity

Humans have been making composite materials for years, starting thousands of years ago with a mud brick made from mud and straw, evolving to today’s materials such as concrete –a matrix of small stones bound by cement and lightweight materials such as carbon fibre.   

Composites are a high growth industry in the UK across sectors such as construction, aeronautics, and now renewable energy with wind turbines being made in the UK.  Composites UK estimates the UK composites industry was valued at £16.64bn in 2020. Added to this, UK composites companies are increasingly focused on biomaterial use for their sustainability strategy. According to Innovate UK, a lack of local supply of these biomaterials is one of their biggest challenges.

Supply chain issues over the last few years combined with the environmental footprint of shipping means that the industry is clamouring for a ‘reshoring’ of their input materials. This challenge to the composite industry presents a huge market opportunity for suitable platform biochemicals. This includes lignin and cellulose produced in the UK from available biomass sources, the most abundant of which is sawdust from the forestry industry.

R&D for a new forestry based performance composite

Bio-Sep (now Sonichem) has just embarked on a Joint Industry Project together with iCAST (The innovation Centre of Applied Sustainable Technologies), the National Composite Centre (NCC), and the University of Bath for the production and testing of bio-based composites from cellulose and lignin. Market testing will be undertaken by Scott Bader, a global manufacturer of resins and composites.

The NCC are looking to enhance their experience and understanding of the properties and manufacture of novel, sustainable materials

. For this project they will be testing the mechanical properties and performance of Bio-Sep produced lignin and cellulose blends as a composite binder/matrix material.

The University of Bath will be producing and testing concrete materials incorporating Bio-Sep’s products as admixtures. Early results from the project are looking promising with demonstrable performance benefits and carbon reduction potential.

This project will enable the identification of construction and composite applications for lignin and cellulose extracted from UK grown sawdust (generously supplied to Bio-Sep by James Jones & Sons). With tried and tested performance characteristics, the high growth UK composites industry could make use of these low carbon, renewable materials, to displace petrochemical materials, create a local biochemical supply chain, and enhance the sustainability of their products.



How do you see biorefining contributing towards net zero in the next 10-30 years?

The world needs chemicals, plastics, composites, and household goods that are not derived from crude oil, with its unsustainable impact on the environment, or from food crops, but instead from sustainable sources such as forestry. Biorefining will enable a shift from fossil to renewable green carbon resources, helping decouple chemical production from fossil resources and reducing CO2 emissions.

Is there an appetite from manufacturers to shift processes to using natural biochemicals?

Absolutely. Manufacturers cannot see a future without sustainable chemicals. Consumer behavior and government regulations such as carbon taxes will drive the change. In the future it is unlikely that chemicals will be purchased without a life cycle analysis, carbon footprint analysis and traceable supply certificate.

What of Bio-Sep’s current work are you most excited to see the results from?

I am really looking forward to seeing the results from the aforementioned industry project where we will be producing and testing a composite product. We also have another project in the pipeline which will look deeper into lignin as a coating. I can see a future where we produce a waterproof, fire-resistant composite out of 100% forestry-produced biochemicals that can be recycled again by our process at end-of-life to create something new, resulting in truly circular green materials.

Pilot Plant Supervisor

Pilot plant supervisor role

We are Hiring a Pilot Plant Supervisor

This is a fantastic opportunity for a driven engineer to join an organisation with ambitious plans in the sustainable biorefining sector. Ideally suited for someone who wants to develop their design and operational experience into pilot plant management with the opportunity of becoming a key support in the full lifecycle project of Bio-Sep’s First Commercial Plant.

The Pilot Plant Supervisor will be responsible for the safe and effective daily operations at the Bio-Sep Pilot Plant located at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, UK. Reporting to the Principal Process Engineer, the Pilot Plant Supervisor will provide the technical leadership on the day-to-day pilot plant and test rig operations for pilot scale production. They will assist the Principal Process Engineer, Chief Engineer and Chief Chemist in applying the technology principles demonstrated on the pilot plant to the design and delivery of our first commercial plant.

Company  Overview

Bio-Sep is an early-stage green technology company pioneering the ultrasonic processing of woody biomass to extract high-value, renewable biochemicals with broad sector applications including bio-based materials, sustainable cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products.

The technology is being demonstrated on an industrial scale pilot plant, whilst the company are developing plans to design and build a full scale commercial biorefinery in the year ahead.

Key Responsibilities

Be the responsible person for the Pilot Plant developing through the role into the Subject Matter Expert for Bio-Sep Pilot Plant Operations.

Take ownership of the Pilot Plant Safety File and support the Principal Process Engineer in implementing Engineering Change Management including updating P&IDs, process documentation and participating in risk assessment/HAZOPs.

Improve and implement SHE best practices for the Pilot Plant Facility.

Compile and update the SOPs for safe and effective operations of the equipment at the Pilot facility.

Train, direct and supervise all personnel involved in Pilot Plant and Test Rig Operation.

Work with the Chief Chemist planning and implementing trial runs.

Trouble-shoot and identify Process Optimisation opportunities following Root Cause Analysis.

Point of contact with 3rd party engineering support contractor. Develop and build relationships with contractors for improved equipment management and maintenance.

Specify, prepare the case for and arrange subcontract engineering support for plant and test rig maintenance, repair and modification beyond the capability of BSL personnel including associated design services.

Procurement, storage, custody and handling of equipment, spares, materials and consumables for the Pilot Plant.

Liaise with the Melton Commercial Park site manager on operational and safety matters having PP3, test rig and laboratory implications.

Experience & Skills

  • Degree in chemical engineering or an HND in Chemical Engineering via an apprenticeship scheme from a chemical manufacturing organisation.
  • Minimum 5 years experience in a Pilot and Chemicals Operations Facility.
  • Demonstrable competence in Plant Operations, Process Safety and Process Optimisation.
  • A pro-active attitude and mindset, with an inherent willingness to support a  variety of tasks and requirements.
  • Excellent communication skills and demonstratable ability to work effectively across teams.
  • Experience in Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing Techniques are desirable but not essential.

Business Insider’s most promising climate-tech startups 2022

Bio-Sep team

The 37 most promising climate-tech startups of 2022, from microplastics to toilets, according to top VCs

Bio-Sep was recommended as one of the 37 most promising climate tech start-ups, poised to take off by Tim Mills of ACF Investors when Business Insider asked investors which start-ups are doing well in 2022. 

Business Insider review article by Tasmin Lockwood and Julie Bort, Aug 30, 2022

Recommended by: Tim Mills, ACF Investors

Relationship to VCs: Portfolio

Founded: 2008

Headquarters: Leicestershire, UK

Total raised: £3.2 million, or around $3.7 million

What it does: Bio-Sep has created a way to break down biomass — namely sawdust — to extract renewable biochemicals. These biochemicals can replace the toxic petrochemicals present in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and personal-care products.

Why it’s poised to take off: “The products produced by chemical companies are essential to having a high quality of life — they are the foundation of everything from modern healthcare to technology. But it’s also an industry that has a lot of work to do when it comes to decarbonizing,” Mills said. “Bio-Sep’s technology could be key to that process, and the business model — turning £1 of sawdust into £6 worth of biochemicals — has the potential to be a highly profitable one.” 

Bio-Sep Joins Allia Climate Accelerator 2022

Allia Climate Accelerator

Bio-Sep were selected to join the very first cohort of Allia’s Climate Accelerator programme, which is culminating in a pitch day on the 14th July, when we will be proud to be pitching alongside our cohort of inspirational impact founders.

Allia is the first UK partner of EIT Climate-KIC to run a 6-month intensive Accelerator offering climate tech founders the opportunity to develop their start-ups and tackle the critical mission of the climate crisis. 

EIT Climate-KIC is the EU’s main climate innovation initiative, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), and works with more than 450 global partners to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon, climate-resilient society. Allia have been running an Impact Accelerator in both Cambridge and London for 5 years, and have helped hundreds of start-ups to scale, develop and amplify their impact

Bio-Sep were selected to join the first cohort to help accelerate the commercialisation of our technology that will contribute to the circular economy by upcycling low value biomass by extracting valuable bio-chemicals, delivering significant global socio-economic benefits.

During Allia’s Climate Accelerator we have had 6 months of intensive coaching and mentoring from industry experts and specialist workshops, and have gained much from being part of an incredible cohort of climate positive start ups.

Start-ups with innovative solutions with huge potential for scalable environmental impact, be it in carbon removal, adaptation, an enabling technology or other environmental friendly enterprise. As a cohort we have been working with tools and methodologies for estimating and validating the climate impact of our ventures.

The programme is culminating with a pitch day on the 14th July where the founders including Bio-Sep’s CEO, Adrian Black, will present to a judging panel and audience of entrepreneurs, industry leaders, investors and climate funds. 

Register and watch us all pitch and find out about some incredible climate positive ventures that are about to graduate from Alias Climate Accelerator!


The in-person event will take place from 2-5pm at the British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Rd, Cambridge CB3 0ET and will be streamed online. You can register to attend the event either in person in Cambridge or online via zoom. Follow the link below to register.

$1,7 Million Fundraise For Scale Up

Bio-Sep secures $1.7 Million for our green-tech that turns sawdust into sustainable biochemicals, from investors including London Business School’s Enterprise 100 investment club and ACF Investors, with additional participation from a hedge fund that specialises in climate and clean energy technology.

As a society, we rely heavily on the chemicals industry. Products produced by chemical companies afford us high quality of life – they’re the backbone of everything from modern healthcare to technology. But it’s also an industry that’s notoriously polluting. Cleaning up and decarbonising the chemicals industry will be absolutely key if we are to meet climate goals like the Paris Agreement, and the technology provided by Bio-Sep is well-placed to play a central role.

Bio-Sep's Story

Bio-Sep was founded by Stephen Brooks, a sugar chemist, who was trying to find a solution to the waste from sugar cane production, where 30% of the plant is waste woody biomass which is generally burned or left to rot. Bio-Sep has developed and patented a cleaner, low-energy solution that uses ultrasound to help break down woody biomass into high-value biochemical products.

Bio-Sep is currently upcycling sawdust, which is the most widely available woody biomass in the UK, from forestry partners. Each £1 of sawdust from sawmills is transformed into £6 of biochemicals with a broad range of potential uses. These biochemicals can often be used to replace petrochemicals, contributing to the decarbonisation of the chemicals industry.

Sustainable Biochemicals

  • Microcrystalline cellulose – a well-known speciality chemical found in medications, cosmetics, composites and 3D printing
  • Natural lignin a complex aromatic polymer that is the only natural substitute for a petroleum-sourced chemical known as phenol which offers a huge number of business opportunities to be used for bio-based resins, composites, coatings, polyurethane foams, bioplastics and more.
  • Hemicellulose hydrolysate – a mixed sugar syrup that can either be used as a syrup or further processed into sugar alcohols, such as xylitol and sorbitol frequently found in dental products, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages
Adrian Black

Adrian Black, CEO

Our technology takes a low-value agricultural or forestry co-product and turns it into essential chemical building blocks, with all manner of applications across the chemical industry and beyond, delivering significant environmental and economic benefits. This investment will enable us to push on and commercialise the technology and is a fantastic show of support for what we believe to be a world-changing innovation.

The funding will be used to recruit staff to operate the pilot plant at our facility located in the Midlands and design the first scaled-up, commercial plant planned for development in heavily forested Scotland. Construction of the commercial plant, which will be able to process approximately 13,000 tonnes of wood a year, is set to begin in 2023.  

The Enterprise 100 Club has provided a vital pipeline of funding for budding startups at London Business School, giving them the opportunity to scale their businesses over the last 22 years and injecting new blood into the School’s ecosystem. I look forward to seeing Bio-Sep reaching new heights with this funding.