Annex XVII – earlier work

Annex XVII started in January 2014, based on the scope below. Annex Manager was Ann-Sofi Jönsson from Lund University, Sweden. The first phase of this Annex was finished in 2017 and the final report is published, see below. A new Task, including six subtask, started in January 2018.


Distillation is the unit operation that dominates the separation scheme in petroleum refineries as most compounds are volatile. In contrast to petroleum compounds, most compounds derived from biomass are non-volatile. Especially size, and to some extent charge, are the main separation characteristics of extracted biomass compounds, which make membrane processes a natural key separation technique in biorefineries.

Development of new biorefinery processes is often carried out by persons with deep knowledge about biotechnology but no, or only limited, experience of membrane processes. In order to optimize energy-efficiency and fractionation ability of membrane processes in biorefineries co-operation between experts on membrane processes and biotechnology is needed. The aim of the Annex is to be a bridge between these groups and by active networking build strong clusters for future work in this area.

Description of Annex (Task)

The transition of our society from a society largely dependent on fossil-based materials to a climate-smart society based on biomass does not only mean a change in the raw material base, but it will also require that new production concepts in the form of biorefineries are developed.

Within the concept of biorefineries membrane processes have been identified as a key separation technology due to their high selectivity and low energy consumption. While the design and operation of membrane processes in other industrial sectors, e.g. the dairy industry, is well established, the design, integration and operation of membrane processes in biorefineries is largely empirical. The fact that process streams in biorefineries contain a large variety of components increases further the complexity.

The first part of the Annex focused exclusively on biorefineries based on lignocellulosic biomass, while the second part of the Annex will transfer, exchange and extend the existing knowledge of the industrial and academic partners with regard to the energy-efficient use of membrane technology to the overall concept of biorefineries based on different renewable resources ranging from algae to agricultural residuals. The accessible knowledge will be mapped and structured and potential knowledge gaps will be identified together with the necessary actions to close those.

Thus the objectives of the extended IETS Annex are the development of energy-efficient and sustainable concepts of biorefineries utilizing the opportunities of membrane technology to produce biochemical, biofuels and energy based on renewable resources by:

  • Maintaining and extending the current Annex network of industrial and academic experts by focusing on the integration and optimization of membrane processes in the overall concept of biorefineries.
  • Mapping and structuring the current knowledge and experience related to membrane processes in biorefineries and identifying knowledge gaps and measures required to overcome those.
  • Extrapolating and adding to the current guidelines for design and optimization of membrane processes in the overall concept of biorefineries.
  • Extending the focus to emerging membrane processes and the membrane processes within the water loop of biorefineries.

The dissemination of the results will take place during Annex meetings, seminars with industrial participation, presentations at conferences and publications for the general public and scientific community. Furthermore, the results will be publically available on the IETS website.

Description of work 2014-2017

The objective of the Annex is the development of sustainable and energy-efficient separation methods enabling utilization of renewable resources for production of chemicals, materials and energy by:

  • Creation of a network of experts involved in projects with the aim of recovering value-added components in biomass.
  • Bringing together and sharing information on the present state of sustainable and energy-efficient separation methods to be used in biorefineries.
  • Creation of guidelines for design and optimization of membrane processes in biorefineries.
  • Survay of fouling and cleaning of membranes in biorefineries.

Four tasks are outlined in Annex XVII:

  1. Recovery of biomass components
  2. Sustainable and energy-efficient separation methods in biorefiineries
  3. Design and optimization of membrane processes in biorefinieries
  4. Fouling and cleaning of membranes in biorefineries

About Annex/Task XVII – 2018-2022


Subtask A. Separations in biorefineries
Separation challenges in biorefineriesshould be mapped and benchmarked against separation duties to develop a separation process selection tool. The initial Annex work conducted in Subtask A and B can be used as foundation for this extended work.

Subtask B. Integration and optimization of membrane processes in biorefineries
The optimization of membrane processes to reduce investment and operating costs in particular in relation to energy demand.

Subtask C. Fouling and cleaning of membranes in biorefineries
In-situ analysing, modelling and predicting fouling and cleaning

Subtask D. Pre-treatment of biomass process streams before membrane separation
Methods for selecting optimal pre-treatment methods and the integration and optimization of pre-treatment methods in combination with the subsequent membrane processes.

Subtask E. Emerging membrane processes
Mapping the potential for emerging membrane technologies in biorefineries

Subtask F. Water and wastewater treatment in biorefineries
Membranes for water and wastewater treatment should be included.


The results from the Annex will be disseminated through the following activities:

  • Status reports presented to the IETS Executive Committee.
  • Contributions to IETS Newsletter
  • Reports and news from each Subtask to be published on Annex webpage.
  • Articles in scientific reviewed journals.
  • Proceedings/summaries of workshops.
  • Presentation of the results at international meetings and conferences such as Euromembranehosted by EMS (European Membrane Society) and Nordic Filtration Symposium (hosted by The Filtration Society).

In 2021 the terminology was changed from Annex to Task.


Final Report 2017

Final Report 2023