IBioIC hosted an informal networking breakfast for delegates involved in forest value chains on the morning of 30th January as part of the IBioIC19 Annual Conference Fringe. All delegates with an interest in wood based biorefining were invited to attend and for a value chain which is very much in its infancy in the UK, we were delighted to welcome 27 attendees from Finland, Netherlands, and Sweden as well as the UK and from industry, academia and other organisations with links to the forest value chain.

The breakfast meeting was purposefully informal and gave delegates an opportunity to meet each other, in some cases for the first time, before receiving a short overview of current funding opportunities suitable for different aspects of wood biorefining. This was an excellent opportunity for networking right at the start of the conference, and ahead of the afternoon Wood Biorefining track session which was greatly appreciated by the attendees.

Wood Biorefining is an emerging value chain in the UK. The Annual Conference track session gave an overview of the current and possible forest-based feedstock supply chains and the importance of wood biorefining as part of the strategy to increase the value of forest-based products. Talks were given by a range of companies at different stages on their journey towards demonstration of their concepts, which provided a good insight into their wood biorefining technologies and business cases. It is crucial to generate sufficient value from all components of the wood in order to achieve commercial viability, and there was specific emphasis on lignin. Lignin has proven difficult to upgrade, and technology developers discussed their strategies, including the recent progress in enzymatic lignin degradation and fractionation, which was keenly received by the audience. The session also provided an overview of interesting findings in a number of projects, using fibres from agricultural sources for packaging material solutions.

By Johan Belfrage, IBioIC Technical Development Manager.