Membrane Processes in Biorefineries



Start date 2014-01-01

End date 2026-12-31

Recent developments

This Annex (Task) started in 2014 and the first four Subtasks were concluded in 2017. The Final Report was published in January 2018 and is available here at the website.

Annex XVII, with Professor Frank Lipnizki as the new Annex Manager, was granted a continuation in November 2017 by the ExCo and started six new Subtasks in January 2018. These Subtasks were concluded in 2022 and the Final Report is now available.

In May 2023, a new Subtask proposal was approved.

Task Members

  • Austria
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Sweden

Task Manager

Professor Frank Lipnizki, Department of Chemical Engineering, Lund University, Sweden.


The transition to a sustainable, biomass-based society requires not only the utilization of new raw materials but also the advancement of separation technologies. Membrane processes offer a promising solution, but their application in biorefineries requires a more holistic approach to process development.
The scope of the IETS Task “Membranes in biorefineries” evolved over the years. The initial IETS Task focused on energy-efficient membrane separation processes for lignocellulosic biomass components only. The IETS Task was then extended to cover biorefineries in general utilising the knowledge and experience gained during the initial Task work. Furthermore, the work in the subtasks was adjusted to cover also effective pre-treatment, emerging membrane processes and water and wastewater treatment. In the proposed extension of the IETS Task, the previous subtasks “separation in biorefineries” and “pre-treatment of biomass” are combined under the subtask integration and optimisation of membrane processes in biorefineries. Additionally, a new subtask on new membrane and module concepts for biorefineries has been developed and the subtask on water and wastewater treatment has been extended to cover water and resource recovery.

Finally, the contents of all subtasks have been updated to reflect the developments in the field.

Objectives and Scope

The aim of this expanded IETS Task is to create sustainable and energy-efficient biorefinery concepts that utilize membrane technology to produce biochemicals, biofuels, and energy from renewable resources. This will be achieved through the following objectives:

  • Expand and maintain the current network of experts in academia and industry by focusing on integrating and optimizing membrane processes in the biorefinery concept.
  • Structure and consolidate the current knowledge and experience of membrane processes in biorefineries, identify knowledge gaps, and develop measures to address them.
  • Build on existing guidelines for designing and optimizing membrane processes in biorefineries and extrapolate to emerging membrane processes and those within the water loop of biorefineries.

The results of this research will be disseminated through Task meetings, seminars with industrial participation, conference presentations, and publications for the scientific community and general public. Additionally, the findings will be available on the IETS website.

Current Tasks/Subtasks

Subtask A: Integration and optimization of membrane processes in biorefineries (Coordinated by ITM-CNR, Italy)

Subtask B: Membrane fouling and cleaning in biorefieneries (Coordinated by Instituto Superior Técnico, Portugal)

Subtask C: Membranes and modules for biorefinery applications (Institut Européen des Membranes – Université de Montpellier, France)

Subtask D: Emerging membrane processes for biorefineries (Coordinated by AEE, Austria)

Subtask E: Water and resource recovery in biorefineries (Coordinated by Aalborg University, Denmark)


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

  • Status reports presented to the IETS Executive Committee.
  • Contributions to IETS Newsletter
  • Articles in scientific reviewed journals.
  • Proceedings/summaries of workshops.
  • Annual Task workshop
  • Presentation of the results at international meetings and conferences such as Euromembrane hosted by EMS (European Membrane Society)

Previous scope and work

Final Report 2023

Final Report 2017

Information about the initial scope and outcome of this Annex