KETs Impact: Agricultural residues into bio-based chemicals - Lignoflag project


The recent SusChem White paper ‘Impact: Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) in Horizon Europe’ included a number of success stories highlighting publicly funded innovation involving KETs and the SusChem Newsroom is featuring a selection of these fruitful 'SusChem-inspired' initiatives.

KETs are technologies selected for their ability to address global challenges, support the development of new products, and stimulate economic growth.

Sustainable chemistry is essential to the technological advance of KETs including advanced materials, advanced manufacturing technologies, industrial biotechnology, micro and nanoelectronics, nanotechnology and photonics. SusChem's key enabling technologies provide the critical building blocks for the solutions needed to achieve a sustainable low carbon circular economy. You can find out more here.

Our second highlighted success story is built around the BBI JU Horizon 2020 project LINGOFLAG that aims to optimise the efficiency and increase the capacity of Clariant’s unique flagship plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol from agricultural residues (such as straw) based on its sunliquid® technology as a significant step towards a biobased, circular economy in Europe.


Agricultural residues into biobased chemicals

Innovative process technology reduces Green House Gas (GHG) emissions

The realisation of a first-of-its-kind flagship production plant using a new technology is always a high-risk project with significant higher costs compared to subsequent plants. The support through public-private funded projects helps to de-risk the investment in a production plant and leverages private capital in this important industry sector.


Clariant’s sunliquid® process converts lignocellulosic agricultural residues, such as cereal straw, into cellulosic ethanol or other biobased chemicals in a way that is highly efficient, economic, energy-neutral and sustainable. Sunliquid® contributes to the political objectives of reducing GHG emissions in the transport sector, to support the transformation from a fossil-based economy to a biobased, circular economy through creation of green jobs, especially in rural areas, mobilisation of currently underutilised agricultural residues, boosts to local economies and creation of additional business opportunities, and creation of a sustainable and competitive source of domestic renewable energy for the EU. Sunliquid® is a biotechnological process and hence contributes to the KET biotechnology.

How was the breakthrough innovation achieved?

The sunliquid® process was developed by Clariant for more than 10 years to overcome major technological hurdles like the need for high yields, low energy consumption, and a stable and economic process of cellulosic ethanol production. During this time the process was developed from Technology Readiness level (TRL) 4 to TRL 8. The maturity of the process was developed in pilot plant scale in Munich, Germany. As a subsequent step within the process development the technology was further up-scaled to demonstration scale with Clariant’s pre-commercial plant in Straubing, Germany. This plant is operational since June 2012 and successfully demonstrated the process in an operational and integrated environment. Clariant’s sunliquid® technology is now ready for a flagship production plant for lignocellulosic ethanol.

Various development steps and parts of the sunliquid® process received and still receive funding. The funded projects on Bavarian, National and European level as well the partnership with the region Straubing enabled Clariant to develop the technology and still supports the proof of techno-economic viability of the sunliquid® technology at commercial scale.


Clariant is investing in a new commercial-scale plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol made from agricultural residues, based on the sunliquid® technology, in the southwestern part of Romania. This undertaking will have the following impact:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of up to 95%
  • Clariant investment in southwestern Romania of approx. EUR 150 million
  • Number of jobs: 80 direct and 300 indirect. 800–900 during construction phase in an underdeveloped region of the country with unemployment rates of 20%
  • Additional income for farmers and local businesses: >EUR 20 million
  • Additional tax generated in the region: >EUR 1 million annually for the next 20 years
  • Regional Development: Industrial plant using agricultural residue as feedstock in a strong agricultural economy along with energy integration of actors along the whole value chain

More information
SUNLIQUID - Large scale demonstration plant for the production of cellulosic ethanol (FP7 project GA number 322386)

LIGNOFLAG - Commercial flagship plant for bioethanol production (Horizon 2020/ BBI JU GA number 709606)

Read the SusChem White Paper ‘Impact: Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) in Horizon Europe’