The transition from fossil fuels demands the use of renewable sources to meet future energy and chemical needs. Net zero drivers combined with increasing regulatory pressure mean that companies using fossil-based hazardous chemicals require sustainable alternatives. Biomass is an abundant source of renewable carbon-based energy and provides the feedstock that our unique and patented technology converts into levoglucosenone (LGO) from which the sustainable bio-solvent Cyrene™ is derived.
Our Furacell™ technology was developed in 2009, fine-tuned over ten years across five pilot plants, on a roadmap that will see Circa build 80,000 tonnes of capacity by 2030.
Lignocellulosic biomass provides the feedstock for our Furacell™ production process. It consists of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Our Furacell™ process uses the cellulose component and produces levoglucosenone, char, and water. Although biomass pyrolysis often produces unwanted chemicals, the Furacell™ process is highly selective, with minimal by-products. This reduces downstream separation costs and minimises waste disposal. In fact, circularity is a defining feature of our production technology, and its carbon footprint is close to zero.
Sustainable by design
The sustainability of the production process is no accident, and reflects principles established when Circa was founded. The Furacell™ process has been designed to be:
- Feedstock tolerant: a wide range of waste cellulose is suitable. We are not dependant on specific feedstock providers and the forest biomass we use makes beneficial use of waste from other industrial processes.
- Carbon neutral: the production process is close to carbon neutral, with feedstock coming from renewable carbon sources, and renewable energy sources used. Biochar produced by the process can fuel the Furacell™ process.
- Environmentally benign: biochar and water are the two primary by-products. We can use the water created from the process as steam for process heat, and at end-of-life, Cyrene™ has no NOX or SOX avoiding the costly disposal strategies of other toxic solvents, such as NMP and DMF.
Circa has won the support of the French Government, the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Bio-based Industries Consortium to fund the design, commissioning and operation of the EUR 50 million ReSolute plant. We lead the ReSolute consortium, which brings together 11 key actors from 6 European countries. Our partners represent the entire value chain, from feedstock to market uptake.
The ReSolute project will result in Circa’s first industrial scale plant and confirms a downstream value chain for the adoption of Cyrene™. The plant will scale-up the current Cyrene™ production process to 1,000 metric tons of output per year. This is the first in a series of plants on a roadmap that will see Circa build 80,000 tonnes of capacity by 2030.
Enabling transition to low carbon economy
ReSolute will repurpose a coal-fired power station, located on the site of an old coal-fired power station, adjacent to Carling Saint-Avold in north-eastern France. Circa’s ReSolute plant supports the region’s plan to transition from fossil based industry to a more sustainable, greener, lower carbon economy that provides skilled jobs in clean technologies now and for the future.
ReSolute is the result of hard work developing Circa’s proprietary technology over many years, of supportive investors and National and European sustainability vision. Circa selected this site because it has the right conditions for success – availability of feedstock, infrastructures in the heart of Europe, close to our customers, the ability to retrofit existing buildings and the possibility of green electricity, steam, hydrogen and other utilities needed to make our lower carbon, sustainable products. The region has a longstanding mining and manufacturing history, combined with strong R&D support from regional Universities that Circa has worked with for several years. For Circa and the region this is an exciting development.
Circa CEO, Tony Duncan
More information can be found on the website.
*This project has received funding from the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 887674. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the Bio-based Industries Consortium.