Biorefining start-up Chrysalix Technologies has won significant funding from the EU to scale-up its business. The company uses waste wood and agricultural by-products as well as sustainably-grown biomass to produce biofuels, biomaterials, greener chemicals and bioplastics.
Its BioFlex process separates the various naturally-occurring components of wood – lignin, cellulose and hemicelluloses – and uses them individually.
Chrysalix Technologies was founded in 2017 by Professor Jason Hallett and Dr Florence Gschwend from the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Dr Agi Brandt-Talbot from the Department of Chemistry, at Imperial College London. The European Innovation Council’s Accelerator programme has awarded the team a €2.3 million grant which will be accompanied by an investment from the European Investment Bank and other investors.
Chrysalix Technologies’ process can be used for any type of woody material, according to Imperial College London, where the start-up originated, however, the team are developing the process specifically for materials that are currently under-used, such as sawdust or non-recyclable waste wood from construction industries.
Professor Hallett said: “We’re absolutely over the moon about it. This funding was essential to scaling up the company from a tiny start-up to a proper company that will be able to have a real impact.”
Dr Brandt-Talbot added: “After 12 years of development work, mainly at the lab scale, initially working with milligrams of materials, this funding will allow us to produce BioFlex cellulose and lignin at the tonne scale. This is hugely exciting and a life dream come true.”
The team will use the funding to build a fully-functioning pilot plant that will be ‘thousands of times’ larger than what they can currently do in the lab, according to Imperial College London.