Sustainable Chemistry / MOGHI

The project

The MOGHI project aims at complementing Biochemtex research on conversion of lignocellulosic feedstock, by investigating the possible routes to transform lignin co-product produced at the Crescentino plant, into higher value molecules and/or products with already consolidated existing markets.
An example of the resulting products achieved through such routes are BTX aromatics (Benzene, Toluene and Xylene), which currently originate from fossil oil, and which are the precursors of many mass-produced goods, such as polycarbonate, nylon, polyester fibers and polystyrene used in packaging.
Other compounds obtained from such lignin transformation are long chain aliphatic molecules, which can easily be used to make jet fuel.

MOGHI is a further example of technology development, based on lignocellulosic biomass sources which do not compete with the food chain.

The project will pursue these specific targets:

  • Establishment of the first demo plant worldwide, having a production capacity of 1000 tons/year of BTX, using lignin cake feedstock.
  • Implementation of Industrial Research activities and Experimental Development plans to optimize conversion of lignin into BTX, from a technical, economic and environmental point of view.
  • Process optimization and advancement in related competencies, in particular with respect to novel catalysts for the conversion of lignin to BTX.
The efficiency of project MOGHI offers an economically viable and sustainable alternative to the use of fossil fuels as source of precursor molecules, and increases the value of lignin by 10-20 times, if compared to the value of its mere energy content.

Technology and Lignin

MOGHI is a technology platform that allows conversion of lignin into bio-naphtha and relative aromatic derivatives. Naphtha itself is a mixture of liquid hydrocarbons (C5-C9), commonly obtained by fractional distillation of petroleum, and it is mostly used to produce high-octane gasoline, through a catalytic reforming process. Other typical applications are the production of fertilizers and olefins for polymer manufacturing.

MOGHI therefore enables production of a “green” naphtha, which has the same properties as fossil-based naphtha. Bio-naphtha is really a “drop-in” ingredient for the petrochemical industry and it does not require the development of any new downstream technology for its implementation. The MOGHI process is therefore a part of the game-changing concept of a bio-refinery, in which all fundamental components of biomass are exploited: sugars via PROESA™, and lignin through MOGHI.

The core of the technology is a catalytic de-oxygenation and de-polymerization of lignin, followed by a purification step and separation of the desired products. The process itself uses hydrogen, generated in situ from the reactions and re-introduced as a reagent during the process itself, together with an off-the-shelf catalyst.

Lignin is one of the main constituents of lignocellulosic biomass and has an aromatic structure; PROESA™ lignin is a co-product of the technology for 2G bioethanol production, and it is thereby in a “pure” state, due to the fact that no chemicals are added during the process.