The European project BIOCORE delivers an important result and reaches a milestone:

The pilot scale production of 2nd generation bioethanol

The rarefaction of fossil energy resources and climate change are favoring the replacement of fossil carbon by renewable carbon. In this context, lignocellulosic biomass is a promising resource, as long as it can be used in a sustainable way. INRA, coordinator of the European project BIOCORE, in association with two industrial partners of this project CIMV S.A. (Levallois Perret, France) and DSM Bio-based Products & Services B.V. (Delft, The Netherlands), announces the successful pilot scale production of 2nd generation bioethanol from wheat straw. This achievement demonstrates the feasibility of 2nd generation bioethanol production and ultimately opens the way towards the production of polymers, such as PVC, from renewable lignocellulosic biomass. In general terms, the technologies that are being developed in BIOCORE favour the use of non-food resources, these being either non-food residues of food crops or woody biomass.

In the framework of the European project BIOCORE, collaboration between the companies CIMV and DSM has led to the production of 2nd generation bioethanol from wheat straw. The result constitutes a key step in the BIOCORE project, which aims to demonstrate the feasibility of producing 2nd generation bioethanol as precursor for materials such as bio-PVC, from non-food lignocellulosic biomass. To achieve this, CIMV first converted wheat straw into cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin (i.e. the three major components of non-food lignocellulosic biomass) using its pilot facility located in Pomacle (Marne, France) and supplied DSM with refined cellulose. Using proprietary thermostable enzymes, DSM (located in Delft, The Netherlands) converted the cellulose into glucose, which was then used as feedstock for fermentation converting the glucose into bioethanol. In a final step, Arkema S.A. will use the 2nd generation ethanol to produce ethylene, which is a precursor of PVC.

“We are extremely satisfied with this collaboration with DSM, which has allowed us to clearly demonstrate the power of our cutting edge organosolv technology for biorefining of non-food, lignocellulosic biomass” explained Thierry Scholastique, CEO of CIMV. “Today, thanks to the BIOCORE project, which puts our technology at the heart of the biorefinery process for the pretreatment of biomass, and to the various BIOCORE partners who are currently working on the three biomass fractions arising from our process, we have made a critical step towards the future industrialization of our technology”.

For DSM this pilot-scale production of bioethanol derived from non-edible feedstocks was an anticipated result. Oliver May, R&D Director DSM Bio-based Products & Services is delighted with this next step. “We are extremely excited about the BIOCORE project which brings various technology and value chain partners together to speed up innovation enabling efficient use of cellulosic feedstock. This is our future and the project results confirm that together with our partners, we are on the right track to deliver a robust bioethanol process based on wheat straw. The thermostable DSM enzyme mix performs very well on the pretreated feedstock and combined with our strong yeast technology as well as operational experience of the Delft pilot facilities we are reaching commercially attractive bioethanol yields and the required high product quality for materials applications.”

According to Dr. Michael O’Donohue, coordinator of BIOCORE, this success is the logical result of the highly positive, dynamic atmosphere that reigns within the project’s consortium, which is formed by 25 partners from 13 different countries. “Today, progress in BIOCORE is excellent and several innovations are in the pipeline. The production of 2nd generation bioethanol is symbolic of this progress and reaching this milestone earlier than expected is highly motivating”.

Michael O’Donohue (Deputy Manager of INRA’s ‘Caractérisation et élaboration des produits issus de l’agriculture (CEPIA)’ division)
tel. : +33 5 61 55 94 28

  • More information on the Biocore project:


INRA, press release, 2011-12-05.


French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)


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