Sonichem ultrasonic biorefining
Our novel patented Sonichem technology and process is capable of converting lignocellulosic biomasses (including hard and soft woods, sugar cane bagasse, straws, grasses) safely, efficiently, cleanly and economically into cellulose, natural sugars and lignin.
Central to our Sonichem process is the use of ultrasound to break the chemical bonds in the feedstock to liberate the cellulose, sugars and lignin fractions. The fractionated mixture is then processed through recovery units to separate the fractions into high-quality biochemical products.
By making use of the ultrasonic energy, fractionation of the biomass can be achieved at considerably lower temperatures and pressures than comparable processes, with no requirement for highly corrosive mineral acids. The recovery and re-use of organic solvent reduces the inventory of chemicals held on site
We think biomass is too valuable to burn. Our process provides a route to production of high value products from low-grade feedstock that would otherwise be used for the production of fuel pellets.
Our process generates bio-sourced lignin as an alternative to petrochemical phenol, widely used in resins and composites. The chemicals used in the process are recovered and re-used within the process.
Low carbon footprint
The lower process temperatures and pressures required in combination with the use of ultrasound energy lead to a significant reduction in energy demand and CO2 emissions compared to other technologies.
We also maximise carbon efficiency, with more than 95% of our feedstock turning into a valuable product. The capability to recover and re-use the organic solvents with negligible losses is also a significant carbon benefit.
The relatively mild processing conditions do not lead to decomposition of the valuable products. Thus, hemicellulose sugars are recovered without hydrolysis and are high quality, lignin is recovered without extensive depolymerisation, condensation or sulfonation, and cellulose is recovered in a highly crystalline form.
Non-sulfonated lignin, which has gained interest through its potential conversion to extremely high value products, is currently not widely available and our process opens up exciting new opportunities for this product.
This clean and simple process can be easily adapted to different types of lignocellulosic feedstock, and through modular construction it can be sized to suit the limitations of the supply chain and/or the market demand for the products.
Our integrated pilot plant
The ultrasonic fractionation technology has been successfully demonstrated at our pilot plant facility. A small scale ultrasonic reactor and mixing vessel along with a Process Control Systems is used to process small batch quantities. A Quality and R&D lab located at the same facility allows for process chemistry and quality analysis.
The pilot plant has the following key functions:
- Demonstrate the novel technology works and the process is reliable and repeatable.
- The technology can be easily scaled for commercial production.
- Produce consistent kilogram product samples for assessment by potential end users.
- Provide key process chemistry data for the basis of design for commercial scale plants.
The Pilot Plant aims to integrate the downstream separation process for the recovery of sugars, cellulose and lignin and support the Process Selection stage for the basis of design for commercial scale production.