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Various aspects of biomass valorization are addressed at BTL. In particular, the laboratory focuses on studying the fundamentals and direct applications of bioprocesses for the transformation of bio-resources into added value products including biofuels, biomaterials for tissue engineering, biomedical products, and prebiotics by adhering to the concepts of circular economy, bio-based society, and industry. The laboratory consist of two research units: PhotoBioCatalysis: focuses on depolymerization of biomass such as lignocellulose and marine-derived bioresources, and plastic into new high-value building blocks using novel approaches such as light energy coupled with fungal and bacterial enzymes (PETase). This activity is the core of the sustainable degradation of waste. The monomers are then transformed via fermentation into higher value products. BioMatter: explores the recovery and application of high-value building blocks generated at PhotoBiocatalysis to produce various high-value polymers, pigments, bioactive molecules and structures for biomaterials tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and food applications. The unit is dedicated to research on additive manufacturing biomaterials at ULB and focuses on improving the functional properties of biopolymers to develop multifunctional biomaterials with diverse physiochemical characteristics: biocompatibility, biodegradability, and stimuli-responsive for biomedical and food applications.
Plant and seafood wastes are abundant renewable biomass on Earth and in the Brussels region that are attractive sources of bioenergy and bio based chemicals and materials. The aim of the project is to valorize Brussels sorted biowastes into platform chemicals for green chemistry using innovative green conversion technologies set upon a newly discovered “Reverse Photosynthesis”. This technology uses redox depolymerizing enzymes aided by the electrons from a photosensitizer powered by the Sunlight or artificial light. Natural biowaste-derived photosensitizer like chlorophyll derivatives will be tested. The innovative valorization of the lignocellulose that will be investigated involves extraction of lignin under environmental friendly conditions, light driven enzymatic polysaccharides degradation for production of fermentable sugars and oligosaccharides, electro-fermentation to medium chains carboxylates and lactic acid fermentation. While for chitin biowaste the implications of the Reverse Photosynthesis will be tested for the oxidation of the polysaccharides and its conversion into wound healing hydrogel. Given that the biochemical processes involved in this technique do not require a dedicated area as for classical pre-green chemistry plant, this process could be easily implemented in an urban context using relatively small plants scale in size.