Membrane Processes in Biorefineries



Start date 2014-01-01

End date 2023-03-31

Recent developments

This Annex 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 will be concluded during 2022 and the Final Report published.

Annex Members

  • Austria
  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Portugal

Annex Manager

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


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.

Current Tasks/Subtasks

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).

Previous scope and work

Final Report 2017

Information about the initial scope and outcome of this Annex