The last 18 months of the ABC-Salt project

The Horizon 2020 ABC-Salt project started in April 2018 and we are delighted to present a short update here on eight of the nine Work Packages involved. The last eighteen months have been a great success for us – not just in terms of the technical progress we have made – but also in the level of public engagement and outreach the project has achieved. Examples of this include the ABC-Salt Summer Salt School in the UK in August 2019 and conferences across Europe where ABC-Salt has presented posters. 

Work Package 2 

Studies on the techno-economic viability of the ABC-Salt process concept have been initiated as a part of WP2 work. A basic, flexible flow sheet model was prepared and will be fed with actual data from the other technical work packages in due course. Initial ‘black-box’ calculations were conducted with lignin as feedstock to obtain possible product distributions for the ABC-Salt process. A preliminary techno-economic assessment with an emphasis on investment costs was conducted using a methodology suitable for early stage projects with high uncertainties. To evaluate the socio economic acceptance of biomass conversion in molten salts, a stakeholder map within each one of the partner countries was drafted. Stakeholders have been selected on the basis of this mapping and a mailing list has been produced in order to collect a minimum of 32 interviews from M19 to M24. 

Work Package 3

In WP3, feedstocks have been selected (wood, wheat straw and lignin) and characterised in details using appropriate (analytical) techniques. The most promising molten salt for ABC-Salt was selected based on literature data and experiments performed in the consortium. Selection was done using a multi-criteria approach and involved assessment of melting point, thermal- and hydrolytic stability. A liquefaction process using a dedicated device was developed and gave 92% lignin recovery at a lignin to molten salt weight ratio of 1 to 10, thus fulfilling the WP3 objective. This option is thus a promising option to transfer the salt-lignin solution/slurry into the subsequent hydro-pyrolysis unit. 


Miss Regina Siu and Dr Jinesh Cherukkattu Manayil working with the SEM-EDX system (Aston University)
Miss Regina Siu and Dr Jinesh Cherukkattu Manayil working with the SEM-EDX system (Aston University)

Work Package 4

For the conversion of the liquefied biomass to middle distillates using hydropyrolysis, the emphasis in the first period has been mainly on pyrolysis (WP4) without the use of hydrogen. Atmospheric thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) at different heating rates was conducted using the selected project feedstock and model components for full evaluation of thermal decomposition kinetics. The kinetic parameters were successfully determined using appropriate models. Micropyrolysis studies, autoclave experiments and product analysis were performed using the selected feeds in the absence and presence of molten salts. It was shown that lignin monomers and oligomers are the main products in the liquid phase when using lignin as the feed, whereas lignocellulosic biomass results in a liquid product enriched in furfural and acetic acid. 

Miss Adriana Estrada Leon (PhD Student from Ghent University) working with the micropyrolysis system
Miss Adriana Estrada Leon (PhD Student from Ghent University) working with the micropyrolysis system

Work Packages 3-5

To prepare for the demonstration of the integrated concept of ABC-Salt, preliminary results of WPs 3-5 have been compiled and used as input for a conceptual process design. As a follow up, a preliminary flexible design (FEED) has been prepared and will be used to bridge the gap between the conceptual design and the detailed design of the integrated unit, foreseen in M24. The process design data will be updated based on when experimental data become available from WPs 3-5.

Work Package 7

Regarding communication and dissemination actions (WP7), a first newsletter and press release were prepared and disseminated and we released the first version of the data management plan. A second newsletter was created in December 2019. Also, the first ABC-Salt Summer School (public event) was organised in August 2019, hosted by Aston University. 


As is evident from the high attendance level of all WP leaders and staff from partners at meetings, the consortium is committed to make a success of the project. 100% of the deliverables scheduled for M1-M18 were released up to M20, of which 76% in the M1-M18 (Period 1) time frame. 

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