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F-CUBED Project

The objective is to develop an advanced process concept for the hydrothermal conversion of a broad range of low quality biogenic residues to superior intermediate bioenergy carriers (IEC) with fuel characteristics suitable for balancing the power grid, and to produce transportation and heavy industry fuels.


F-CUBED approach enables the overall validation of a feedstock flexible process, able to deal with variable feed characteristics, such as size, composition and pumpability.


The core technology will be scaled up from lab (TRL 3) to pilot scale (TRL 5).

Hydrothermal conversion of a broad range of low quality biogenic residues

Three types of biogenic residues will be treated: Paper Sludge from cardboard production, fruit & vegetables processing wastes from baby food production, and waste olive pomace from olive oil extraction.

Generally, biomass conversion technologies are developed for specific streams treatment and applications, being consequently limited in their feedstock flexibility and potential for dispatchable distributed power generation. The F-CUBED process has been designed to handle a wide range of biomasses, albeit all wet and difficult to dewater mechanically, and balance the features of different unit operations, in order to meet the requirements of a feedstock flexible conversion technology.

Furthermore, F-CUBED goes beyond current thermochemical upgrading, through the integration of thermochemical biomass conversion with N-P-K recovery, liquid internal circulation anaerobic treatment and advanced dewatering of hydrothermal slurries.

What Are The Main Targets Of The Research?


Increasing energy density (at least to 5.5 GJ/m3) and fuel characteristics (complying with ISO/TS 17225‐8:2016-TA3 specifications) of biogenic residues through hydrothermal processing with an energy yield of 50%.


Making and using a minimum of 100 kg (dry matter) of IEC in a relevant industrial environment, for power generation and syngas production for biomass-to-liquids conversion processes.


Validating the parallel recovery of specific value-added products for each industrial case (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, terpenes and olive pomace oil recovery).


Showing at least a 30% improvement on residue processing costs, while obtaining GHG emission savings of at least 60% in using the IEC for heat and power generation.

Heterogeneous streams

Validating experimentally the core process by using continuous hydrothermal reactor (20 kg/hr) and dewatering pilots, in a relevant industrial environment on 3 representative side streams, at Smurfit Kappa Pitea (Sweden, paper sludge), Go Delafruit (Spain, fruit and vegetable wastes) and APPO (Italy, waste olive pomace).

F-CUBED process

In the F-CUBED process, the hydrothermal treatment is executed via TORWASH® reactor technology.
This is a patented TNO wet biomass treatment (WO2013162355).

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