We are hiring an electrical fitter and pilot plant operator

Photo of Sonichem pilot plant to advertise job vacancy

We are hiring an electrical fitter for pilot plant operations. 

This is a fantastic opportunity for a driven engineer/technician to join an organisation with ambitious plans in the sustainable biorefining sector. Ideally suited for someone who wants to develop their design and operational experience with the opportunity of becoming a key support in the full lifecycle project of Sonichem’s First-of-a-kind Commercial Plant.

The Pilot Plant Electrical Fitter shall be responsible for the safe and effective daily operations at the Sonichem Pilot Plant located at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, UK.

Reporting to the Plant Supervisor, the Electrical Fitter will provide the key support in the day-to-day pilot plant and test rig operations and maintenance for pilot scale production. Assist the team in applying the technology principles demonstrated on the pilot plant to the design and delivery of our first commercial plant (FCP).

Key Responsibilities

  • Key responsible person for safely conducting the installation, maintenance, testing and repairs of electrical systems and equipment at the Pilot Plant Facility.
  • Supporting the Pilot Plant Supervisor in safely implementing pilot plant operations, conducting batch runs and reporting results and equipment performance to support process selection decisions for the commercial plant.
  • Key point of contact with control system subcontractors ensuring all drawings and documentation is up to date and transfer of knowledge is bought in house.
  • Control instrumentation installation, calibration and diagnosis.
  • Improving and implementing SHE best practices for the Pilot Plant Facility.
  • Compiling and updating the SOPs for safe and effective operations of the equipment at the Pilot facility.
  • Housekeeping and upkeep of the Pilot Plant Facility.
  • Trouble shooting and identification of Process Optimisation opportunities following Root Cause Analysis.
  • Point of contact with 3rd party engineering support contractor. Develop and build relationship with contractor for improved equipment management and maintenace.

Skills and experience requirements

  • This is a hands-on engineering role. The ideal candidate will be from an electrical background, completed a recognised apprenticeship and demonstrate working plant operational experience.
  • Minimum 5 years’ experience as an electrical fitter or technician in a Chemical or Manufacturing environment.
  • This is a site-based role.
  • Demonstrate competence in understanding/interpreting electrical and engineering drawings.
  • Demonstrate competence in Electrical Regulations and Standards.
  • Demonstrate competence in 3 phase electrical systems i.e., electrical motors.
  • Demonstrable competence in Plant Operations, Process Safety and Process Optimisation.
  • Correct attitude and pro-active mindset. Willingness to support various tasks and requirements.
  • Excellent communication skills and demonstratable ability to work effectively with cross functional teams.
  • Experience of Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing Techniques are desirable but not essential.

How to apply

To apply now send an email with your CV to info@bio-sep.com

Please note that we can only accept applicants with the right to work in the UK.

New Joint Industry Project with iCAST and the National Composite Centre

Bio-Sep Biochemicals and Biorefinery

Bio-Sep (now Sonichem) Launches new Joint Industry Project to Fuel the  Green Revolution

Bio-Sep (now Sonichem) has begun an exciting joint industry project which aims to develop renewable, bio-sourced alternatives for existing petrochemically-derived platform chemicals, ultimately helping to meet the worldwide demand for clean technologies and contributing to net-zero carbon goals. The new venture is in collaboration with the Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST), which includes prestigious institutions such as the University of Bath and the National Composites Centre (NCC).

Bio-Sep specialises in the conversion of non-food, lignocellulosic biomass generated by agriculture and forestry into high-value biochemicals, using its unique, low energy biorefinery process. It produces a novel, non-sulfonated lignin with enhanced reactivity and low molecular weight. This new product and exclusive separation process have great potential for the large-scale manufacture of sustainable biochemical substitutes that can be used in multiple commercial applications, such as the composites and construction industries. The joint industry project aims to extensively test the properties and performance of the products, both as part of biobased composites and as a cement admixture.

Dr Andrew West, Chief Chemist at Sonichem (previously Bio-Sep), explained: “This interdisciplinary R&D project will allow us to develop and demonstrate potential applications for our non-sulfonated lignin and biorefinery process. We are very much looking forward to working with our valuable partners within iCAST, and benefiting from their global expertise and extensive knowledge in bio-based materials chemistry and composites manufacture.”

Professor Matthew Davidson, iCAST Director, added: “We are delighted to be working with Bio-Sep to accelerate innovation in this important area. It is exactly the sort of collaboration that iCAST was designed to undertake, and one of the first of around 50 joint industry projects that we plan to deliver in the next two years. By bringing together iCAST’s expertise in materials and manufacturing with innovative companies such as Bio-Sep, we aim to accelerate the deployment of sustainable technologies into commercial applications. This will in turn contribute to achieving the UK’s net zero and Clean Growth targets.”

Tim Young, Head of Sustainability at the National Composites Centre, said: “Being part of the Bio-Sep project will enable us to assess the suitability of a highly innovative, low carbon, composite material. The NCC team looks forward to assessing the feasibility of the material for use in industrial applications using our design, manufacturing and quality assessment expertise alongside our customer network, to help the material’s route to market. We are delighted to support Bio-Sep with its exciting sustainability offering for the composites marketplace, and to be part of the consortium of partners, pooling expertise and knowledge in this growing specialist area.”

Early results of the project are encouraging, suggesting that in the near future, composites and construction industries could make use of a low-carbon, renewable material, further displacing petrochemicals and improving their operational sustainability.

About iCAST

The Innovation Centre for Applied Sustainable Technologies (iCAST) is a unique collaboration set to deliver agile innovation in green, sustainable technologies. Bringing together experts across all the innovation stages, it focusses on bringing together industry and academia to translate discoveries into commercial application. iCAST is a partnership between the universities of Bath and Oxford, the High-Value Manufacturing Catapults (National Composites Centre and Centre for Process Innovation), the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership and SETsquared. This project is funded by Research England. icast.org.uk / @icastinfo

About the National Composites Centre

The National Composites Centre (NCC) is the UK’s world-leading composite research and development facility; where innovators come when they need to make things lighter, stronger, smarter and more sustainable. Its key focus areas are Composites, Digital Engineering, Hydrogen and Sustainability. With access to ‘beyond’ state-of-the-art technology and the best composites engineering capabilities in the world, the NCC collaborates with customers to solve the most complex engineering challenges of our time.  Part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the NCC works across all manufacturing sectors and has forged strong links with aerospace, energy, defence, space, construction, infrastructure, auto, rail, marine and biomedical. It works with organisations across the board from micro enterprises and SMEs to disrupters, the supply chain and OEMs, providing businesses with a de-risked environment to design, develop, test and scale their ideas and get them to market fast. For more information visit https://www.nccuk.com/

Creating Sustainable Composites From Sawdust

Foresty and Timber News October 2022
Sustainable composites from sawdust article

The Green Revolution, creating sustainable composites from sawdust

Forestry and Timber News, October 2022 – Wood in the Circular Economy Edition

The Green Revolution

Carbon is the backbone of so many everyday materials and products that the chemical industry producing these products accounts for around 6% of global petroleum use. Societal concerns around climate change and decarbonization are driving what industry and policy makers are calling the Green Revolution, a movement in manufacturing from black petro-sourced carbon to green bio-sourced carbon.

Global brands including Unilever, PepsiCo and L’Oreal are investing billions of pounds to remove fossil-derived ingredients from their products and packaging over the next 5-10 years, significantly increasing demand for bio-derived alternatives. However, with natural resource depletion, increasing strain on global supply chains and an ever-growing global population, there are significant sustainability concerns regarding the use of food crops in chemical production. Focus instead is shifting towards the use of low value co-products from agricultural and forestry operations as a more suitable source of biochemicals.

Against this backdrop, Sonichem’s mission is to maximise the value of underutilised resources. To achieve this, Sonichem have developed Sonichem an award-winning low-energy ultrasonic process to convert woody biomass into chemicals. The Sonichem process generates almost zero waste, is water-use neutral, and produces three high-value products (cellulose, sugar syrup and lignin).

Wood: Nature’s Composite

The fibrous or woody component of plants and trees is called lignocellulose. The word derives from ‘Lignum’, the Latin name for wood, and is essentially nature’s composite. Wood consists of three components: cellulose fibres together with hemicellulose form a matrix which in turn is bound together by an aromatic biochemical called lignin. In nature this complex chemical structure of three biochemicals results in a solid cell wall that is resistant to wind, water, pests, and sunlight. When separated from each other these biochemicals are known as bio-based platform biochemicals and have wide market potential.

For many years, cellulose has been extracted from wood for the pulp and paper industry. Bio-Sep’s ultrasonic process produces a crystalline cellulose which is a high value speciality chemical with applications in food and beverages, cosmetics, and performance composites. 

Lignin is the world’s second most abundant biopolymer after cellulose. It is nature’s binding material, the substance that gives plants and trees their structural integrity and strength. Its aromatic structure makes it the most suitable biochemical to replace a toxic petrochemical called phenol, which is commonly used in resins, composites, coatings, and adhesives. Fluctuations in the price of phenol due to changes in oil price, and concerns about the toxic exposure of workers to phenol during the manufacturing process, make lignin an attractive bio-derived alternative. Natural lignin could be used for a phenolic replacement to make sustainable resins for use in, for example, the chipboard industry; the chips of wood could be held together with a resin made from lignin. Lignin as an eco-substitute not only reduces the carbon footprint and toxicity for manufacturers but also provides additional performance benefits such as fire resistance and UV protection.

The UK’s composite challenge is an opportunity

Humans have been making composite materials for years, starting thousands of years ago with a mud brick made from mud and straw, evolving to today’s materials such as concrete –a matrix of small stones bound by cement and lightweight materials such as carbon fibre.   

Composites are a high growth industry in the UK across sectors such as construction, aeronautics, and now renewable energy with wind turbines being made in the UK.  Composites UK estimates the UK composites industry was valued at £16.64bn in 2020. Added to this, UK composites companies are increasingly focused on biomaterial use for their sustainability strategy. According to Innovate UK, a lack of local supply of these biomaterials is one of their biggest challenges.

Supply chain issues over the last few years combined with the environmental footprint of shipping means that the industry is clamouring for a ‘reshoring’ of their input materials. This challenge to the composite industry presents a huge market opportunity for suitable platform biochemicals. This includes lignin and cellulose produced in the UK from available biomass sources, the most abundant of which is sawdust from the forestry industry.

R&D for a new forestry based performance composite

Sonichem embarked on a Joint Industry Project together with iCAST (The innovation Centre of Applied Sustainable Technologies), the National Composite Centre (NCC), and the University of Bath for the production and testing of bio-based composites from cellulose and lignin. Market testing will be undertaken by Scott Bader, a global manufacturer of resins and composites.

The NCC are looking to enhance their experience and understanding of the properties and manufacture of novel, sustainable materials

For this project they will be testing the mechanical properties and performance of Sonichem produced lignin and cellulose blends as a composite binder/matrix material.

The University of Bath will be producing and testing concrete materials incorporating Sonichems products as admixtures. Early results from the project are looking promising with demonstrable performance benefits and carbon reduction potential.

This project will enable the identification of construction and composite applications for lignin and cellulose extracted from UK grown sawdust (generously supplied to Sonichem by James Jones & Sons). With tried and tested performance characteristics, the high growth UK composites industry could make use of these low carbon, renewable materials, to displace petrochemical materials, create a local biochemical supply chain, and enhance the sustainability of their products.



How do you see biorefining contributing towards net zero in the next 10-30 years?

The world needs chemicals, plastics, composites, and household goods that are not derived from crude oil, with its unsustainable impact on the environment, or from food crops, but instead from sustainable sources such as forestry. Biorefining will enable a shift from fossil to renewable green carbon resources, helping decouple chemical production from fossil resources and reducing CO2 emissions.

Is there an appetite from manufacturers to shift processes to using natural biochemicals?

Absolutely. Manufacturers cannot see a future without sustainable chemicals. Consumer behavior and government regulations such as carbon taxes will drive the change. In the future it is unlikely that chemicals will be purchased without a life cycle analysis, carbon footprint analysis and traceable supply certificate.

What of Sonichem’s current work are you most excited to see the results from?

I am really looking forward to seeing the results from the aforementioned industry project where we will be producing and testing a composite product. We also have another project in the pipeline which will look deeper into lignin as a coating. I can see a future where we produce a waterproof, fire-resistant composite out of 100% forestry-produced biochemicals that can be recycled again by our process at end-of-life to create something new, resulting in truly circular green materials.

Pilot Plant Supervisor

Pilot plant supervisor role

We are Hiring a Pilot Plant Supervisor

This is a fantastic opportunity for a driven engineer to join an organisation with ambitious plans in the sustainable biorefining sector. Ideally suited for someone who wants to develop their design and operational experience into pilot plant management with the opportunity of becoming a key support in the full lifecycle project of Sonichem’s First Commercial Plant.

The Pilot Plant Supervisor will be responsible for the safe and effective daily operations at the Sonichem Pilot Plant located at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, UK. Reporting to the Principal Process Engineer, the Pilot Plant Supervisor will provide the technical leadership on the day-to-day pilot plant and test rig operations for pilot scale production. They will assist the Principal Process Engineer, Chief Engineer and Chief Chemist in applying the technology principles demonstrated on the pilot plant to the design and delivery of our first commercial plant.

Company  Overview

Bio-Sep is an early-stage green technology company pioneering the ultrasonic processing of woody biomass to extract high-value, renewable biochemicals with broad sector applications including bio-based materials, sustainable cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products.

The technology is being demonstrated on an industrial scale pilot plant, whilst the company are developing plans to design and build a full scale commercial biorefinery in the year ahead.

Key Responsibilities

Be the responsible person for the Pilot Plant developing through the role into the Subject Matter Expert for Bio-Sep Pilot Plant Operations.

Take ownership of the Pilot Plant Safety File and support the Principal Process Engineer in implementing Engineering Change Management including updating P&IDs, process documentation and participating in risk assessment/HAZOPs.

Improve and implement SHE best practices for the Pilot Plant Facility.

Compile and update the SOPs for safe and effective operations of the equipment at the Pilot facility.

Train, direct and supervise all personnel involved in Pilot Plant and Test Rig Operation.

Work with the Chief Chemist planning and implementing trial runs.

Trouble-shoot and identify Process Optimisation opportunities following Root Cause Analysis.

Point of contact with 3rd party engineering support contractor. Develop and build relationships with contractors for improved equipment management and maintenance.

Specify, prepare the case for and arrange subcontract engineering support for plant and test rig maintenance, repair and modification beyond the capability of BSL personnel including associated design services.

Procurement, storage, custody and handling of equipment, spares, materials and consumables for the Pilot Plant.

Liaise with the Melton Commercial Park site manager on operational and safety matters having PP3, test rig and laboratory implications.

Experience & Skills

  • Degree in chemical engineering or an HND in Chemical Engineering via an apprenticeship scheme from a chemical manufacturing organisation.
  • Minimum 5 years experience in a Pilot and Chemicals Operations Facility.
  • Demonstrable competence in Plant Operations, Process Safety and Process Optimisation.
  • A pro-active attitude and mindset, with an inherent willingness to support a  variety of tasks and requirements.
  • Excellent communication skills and demonstratable ability to work effectively across teams.
  • Experience in Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing Techniques are desirable but not essential.

Business Insider’s most promising climate-tech startups 2022

Bio-Sep team

The 37 most promising climate-tech startups of 2022, from microplastics to toilets, according to top VCs

Bio-Sep was recommended as one of the 37 most promising climate tech start-ups, poised to take off by Tim Mills of ACF Investors when Business Insider asked investors which start-ups are doing well in 2022. 

Business Insider review article by Tasmin Lockwood and Julie Bort, Aug 30, 2022

Recommended by: Tim Mills, ACF Investors

Relationship to VCs: Portfolio

Founded: 2008

Headquarters: Leicestershire, UK

Total raised: £3.2 million, or around $3.7 million

What it does: Bio-Sep has created a way to break down biomass — namely sawdust — to extract renewable biochemicals. These biochemicals can replace the toxic petrochemicals present in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and personal-care products.

Why it’s poised to take off: “The products produced by chemical companies are essential to having a high quality of life — they are the foundation of everything from modern healthcare to technology. But it’s also an industry that has a lot of work to do when it comes to decarbonizing,” Mills said. “Bio-Sep’s technology could be key to that process, and the business model — turning £1 of sawdust into £6 worth of biochemicals — has the potential to be a highly profitable one.” 

Bio-Sep Joins Allia Climate Accelerator 2022

Allia Climate Accelerator

Bio-Sep were selected to join the very first cohort of Allia’s Climate Accelerator programme, which is culminating in a pitch day on the 14th July, when we will be proud to be pitching alongside our cohort of inspirational impact founders.

Allia is the first UK partner of EIT Climate-KIC to run a 6-month intensive Accelerator offering climate tech founders the opportunity to develop their start-ups and tackle the critical mission of the climate crisis. 

EIT Climate-KIC is the EU’s main climate innovation initiative, supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), and works with more than 450 global partners to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon, climate-resilient society. Allia have been running an Impact Accelerator in both Cambridge and London for 5 years, and have helped hundreds of start-ups to scale, develop and amplify their impact

Bio-Sep were selected to join the first cohort to help accelerate the commercialisation of our technology that will contribute to the circular economy by upcycling low value biomass by extracting valuable bio-chemicals, delivering significant global socio-economic benefits.

During Allia’s Climate Accelerator we have had 6 months of intensive coaching and mentoring from industry experts and specialist workshops, and have gained much from being part of an incredible cohort of climate positive start ups.

Start-ups with innovative solutions with huge potential for scalable environmental impact, be it in carbon removal, adaptation, an enabling technology or other environmental friendly enterprise. As a cohort we have been working with tools and methodologies for estimating and validating the climate impact of our ventures.

The programme is culminating with a pitch day on the 14th July where the founders including Bio-Sep’s CEO, Adrian Black, will present to a judging panel and audience of entrepreneurs, industry leaders, investors and climate funds. 

Register and watch us all pitch and find out about some incredible climate positive ventures that are about to graduate from Alias Climate Accelerator!

The in-person event will take place from 2-5pm at the British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Rd, Cambridge CB3 0ET and will be streamed online. You can register to attend the event either in person in Cambridge or online via zoom. Follow the link below to register.

$1,7 Million Fundraise For Scale Up

Bio-Sep secures $1.7 Million for our green-tech that turns sawdust into sustainable biochemicals, from investors including London Business School’s Enterprise 100 investment club and ACF Investors, with additional participation from a hedge fund that specialises in climate and clean energy technology.

As a society, we rely heavily on the chemicals industry. Products produced by chemical companies afford us high quality of life – they’re the backbone of everything from modern healthcare to technology. But it’s also an industry that’s notoriously polluting. Cleaning up and decarbonising the chemicals industry will be absolutely key if we are to meet climate goals like the Paris Agreement, and the technology provided by Bio-Sep is well-placed to play a central role.

Bio-Sep's Story

Bio-Sep was founded by Stephen Brooks, a sugar chemist, who was trying to find a solution to the waste from sugar cane production, where 30% of the plant is waste woody biomass which is generally burned or left to rot. Bio-Sep has developed and patented a cleaner, low-energy solution that uses ultrasound to help break down woody biomass into high-value biochemical products.

Bio-Sep is currently upcycling sawdust, which is the most widely available woody biomass in the UK, from forestry partners. Each £1 of sawdust from sawmills is transformed into £6 of biochemicals with a broad range of potential uses. These biochemicals can often be used to replace petrochemicals, contributing to the decarbonisation of the chemicals industry.

Sustainable Biochemicals

  • Microcrystalline cellulose – a well-known speciality chemical found in medications, cosmetics, composites and 3D printing
  • Natural lignin a complex aromatic polymer that is the only natural substitute for a petroleum-sourced chemical known as phenol which offers a huge number of business opportunities to be used for bio-based resins, composites, coatings, polyurethane foams, bioplastics and more.
  • Hemicellulose hydrolysate – a mixed sugar syrup that can either be used as a syrup or further processed into sugar alcohols, such as xylitol and sorbitol frequently found in dental products, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages
Adrian Black

Adrian Black, CEO

Our technology takes a low-value agricultural or forestry co-product and turns it into essential chemical building blocks, with all manner of applications across the chemical industry and beyond, delivering significant environmental and economic benefits. This investment will enable us to push on and commercialise the technology and is a fantastic show of support for what we believe to be a world-changing innovation.

The funding will be used to recruit staff to operate the pilot plant at our facility located in the Midlands and design the first scaled-up, commercial plant planned for development in heavily forested Scotland. Construction of the commercial plant, which will be able to process approximately 13,000 tonnes of wood a year, is set to begin in 2023.  

The Enterprise 100 Club has provided a vital pipeline of funding for budding startups at London Business School, giving them the opportunity to scale their businesses over the last 22 years and injecting new blood into the School’s ecosystem. I look forward to seeing Bio-Sep reaching new heights with this funding.

Hiring-Process Chemist

Process chemist role complete

We are Hiring  - a Process Chemist -

Bio-Sep is seeking a talented process chemist to join our growing team as we scale our ultrasonic biorefinery technology.
At Bio-Sep, we are passionate about the circular economy and we’re on a mission to provide the world with ground-breaking technology that will produce sustainable biochemicals. 

Bio-Sep is a clean technology company based in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. We have developed a sustainable, ultrasonic biorefining technology that transforms woody biomass, the by-products of forestry and agriculture, into high value biochemicals with a wide range of applications. After a period of intense R&D activity, we are now ready to scale up and commercialise our technology and we’re seeking a talented Process Chemist to join our growing team.

Based at the pilot plant site at Melton Mowbray, the Process Chemist will have day-to-day responsibility for operation of a kilo-scale R&D reactor and downstream separation and purification equipment. Working with our Process Engineer, you will also support operation of the pilot plant and, working with our Chief Chemist and Analytical Chemist, you will support analysis, characterisation.

Reporting to the Chief Chemist and the Senior Process Engineer, your main duties and responsibilities will be to:

  • operate the kilo-scale ultrasonic rig to inform scale-up parameters for a wide range of starting materials
  • support the design of trial plans and lead on data gathering, analysis and process optimisation
  • operate and maintain down-stream product separation and purification equipment with minimal supervision
  • accurately record all results, deviations and observations to support process development
  • work with the Chief Chemist and Marketing Director to support the development of robust pathways to commercialisation for Bio-Sep products
  • support operation of the pilot plant with the Senior Process Engineer
  • work in an agile and flexible manner, responding to changing company and customer needs
  • support other activities to grow and develop the company and its technology as appropriate

Person specification

  • Qualified to HND, degree or masters level in process engineering, chemical engineering, or other relevant scientific disciplines.
  • Experience of working in a pilot-scale or production environment, operating kilo-scale and larger equipment
  • Experience of carrying out trial procedures and using the results to solve problems and inform future research and scale-up.
  • Self-starter, able to plan their own time whilst managing multiple projects over different timescales with minimal supervision
  • Practical, active person with excellent problem-solving skills
  • Confident at interacting with all levels of seniority both within the company and externally
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Confident at handling and recording large volumes of data
  • Keen to learn new skills and support Bio-Sep to grow its business through access to accurate data

If this sounds like you and you share our vision of a sustainable future then apply now.

Please send your CV and cover letter by email to andy@bio-sep.com 

Meet The Team – Miranda Lindsay-Fynn, Commercial Director

Meet The Team

Meet the Team  Miranda Lindsay-Fynn, Commercial Director

– The following is the second in our Meet the Team series and an interview with co-founder and commercial director, Miranda Lindsay-Fynn – 

Miranda Lindsay-Fynn

A co-founder of Sonichem, Miranda is an experienced entrepreneur and marketing director with extensive sector experience including industrial biotechnology, retail and distribution, and B-2-B corporate services. She leads go-to-market activities, building commercial relationships with downstream chemical partners in the Bio Sep supply chain and heading up all marketing activities.

Can you tell me what you do at Bio-Sep?

I am the commercial director at Bio-Sep, which has two key parts:

1/ The first is building awareness of our sustainable biorefinery technology and our company so that people learn about what we do and how our process works, and the wonderful bio-based products that can be produced. This would be achieved through a mix of attending events, through online promotion and through joining industry associations.

2/ The second part of my role relates to building partnerships and relationships with people that will help us commercialise the technology.

What does Bio-Sep do?

Bio-Sep has developed a unique low energy environmentally friendly technology that will process agricultural waste and forestry waste into bio-chemicals which can then be made into personal care products, pharmaceutical products and all sorts of performance materials products.

We’re core to the circular economy, improving the use of natural resources, as well as providing products that will help the world shift its reliance from petrochemicals into bio-sourced ingredients.

What excites you most about your role at Bio-Sep?

I love being on the front end of it – I’m telling the story, I’m pitching the tech, I’m getting people excited about what we do, and it’s amazing seeing people’s reactions. 

The impact that we can have in the forestry sector, in the consumer sector, and how integral our tech will be to a sort of clean low carbon environment is really exciting. It’s also amazing seeing, seeing how much the world is changing and moving towards that.

I’ve been involved in the company for five years now, and the shift from previously talking to companies where it was all a bit focused on bioplastics and no one was quite sure how to use the bio-sourced products. Whereas now, we’ve got people clamouring at the door – they want us for cosmetics, they want us for food production, they want us for materials for these clever applications and it’s quite amazing to be part of that movement.

At the most basic level, what is exciting is that we’re taking materials that are often burnt or considered waste, e.g. sawdust, chippings, agricultural residues and creating chemicals that can be used instead, which is a much smarter way of doing things right. 

We’re helping the world improve its use of its resources which are already stretched under a burgeoning population, consumption excess, and producing great environmentally friendly products. It’s a fantastic technology-  the world needs us!

The technology was originally developed by a chemist whose background was in sugar production and he saw the waste from sugar cane production.  The Bagasse (or the leftover sugar cane), which is over 50% of the plant, was just left to rot or burn. He started looking at tech that will break down the woody biomass; the fibrous part of the sugar cane and developed this technology.

Because we are located in Europe, forestry is the major issue where they’re looking at the moment to try and make it more sustainable, to try and make sure that all of the trees can be used as a product and even better a carbon sink. 

Presently most of the by-products or leftovers are burned as CHP pellets actually but, you know, down the line, we will look at upcycling all sorts of alternative materials. I spent several years living in Asia, and the smog that used to hit Singapore from the burning of palm fronds every year is terrible. We could actually take those fronds and put them through our technology process and fractionate them into these fantastic biochemical products, rather than the current scenario of burning and creating pollution. So there are huge global potential applications beyond forestry with economic and environmental benefits.

What type of partners are likely to find what you do of interest?

We are an enabling technology, which means that we will enable the forestry producer or the agriculture producer, to turn their product into biochemicals so for that we need input partners. We are currently talking to several interesting Scottish companies about potentially putting our first commercial plants, alongside their milling operations with their biomass input.

We’re also talking to various engineering partners who have been following our tech for at least five years now. One, in particular, I’ve met through various associations and they’re really keen to help us scale it up and develop the first plans for the plant.

We’re also talking to chemical companies, and this might be someone who would take our product straight away, it might be the brand with the end-consumer products, the people making scents and perfumes and cosmetics. We need the value chain all linked up to make sure that the input knows where it’s going at the end.

A lot of companies are trying to shift towards bio-sourced chemicals; they just don’t have the supply at the moment. And if they do, a lot of biochemicals so far are coming from actual food sources, food-grade biomass such as sugar and corn.

And many companies don’t want that; they’d rather it be from waste biomass.

So, there’s a lot of interest and there’s a lot of people preparing to go that way, they just need the chemicals which come from technology such as ours.

How does Bio-Sep fit into the government policy in the UK?

Government policy is trying to improve resources and to move to a zero-carbon industry. We will be producing chemicals that have a much lower carbon footprint than your petrochemical alternatives or even certain other food-based ones. 

Zero Waste Scotland is looking at their underutilised resources such as the byproduct of forestry. How can they make better use of it which creates jobs, or create a new economy in Scotland, it would create new products coming out of Scotland. We’ve had some really interesting talks with the likes of Scottish Enterprise who are the body that partnered with Zero Waste Scotland on how they can help us put our tech in Scotland to fit with their policies of creating biorefineries to better utilise their resources.

We’ve got a lot of support and encouragement and help from them because they need technology such as ours to fulfil their goals. 

The way we see it, our approach is appealing as producing products such as ours which will remain a carbon sink because they’re not going to get burnt, they might be retained in a particular material or product or in a food product or anything but you’re not going to be releasing the carbon that’s grown basically.

How do you view your next few years at Bio-Sep? 

We’ve spent close to a decade developing and fine-tuning this technology. Right now we’ve got it into a position to scale and that’s super exciting. We have just secured our next round of financing, which will enable us to design our first commercial plant and develop the partnerships to commercialise the operation, most likely in Scotland so it’s all guns blazing. 

Our team has been growing at a rate of knots. We’ve got some brilliant people now in that team, so that’s great. And, we’re getting exposure. Last year we won a really exciting competition, the Enabling Technologies Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry, which opened huge doors for us and gave us the vital support we need so that’s exciting as well.

Tech Tour Bioeconomy Award Winner 2021

Tech Tour Award Winner 2021

Bio-Sep were invited to take part in the Tech Tour Food and Bioeconomy 2021 event in Aarhus alongside 37 fantastic sustainable technology companies. We were selected to participate due to our technology being a bioeconomy innovation for the production of bio-based materials from waste and its potential impact on the circular economy. It was a fantastic event, our managing director, Adrian Black pitched Bio-Sep’s innovative biorefinery technology to a selection of investors, corporations and government stakeholders.

We are thrilled to announce that we won the award of top presenting company and have been selected to participate in the Tech Tour Future 22 event in March 2022. This event will brings together the best presenters from all the 2021 Emerging Tech Tour Events to pitch in front of Bioeconomy investors in this space. 

Thank you to the team at Tech Tour for supporting Bio-Sep’s sustainable, clean and green biorefinery technology and providing us with opportunities to  reach investors, partner corporations and government experts in the field of the bioeconomy. We also are proud to be alongside some incredible start-ups also working towards a more sustainable future.

tech tour food and bioeconomy awards

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