Scottish woodchip biochemical project funding boost

23 June 2022

A sustainable startup converting low-value woodchips into high-value biochemicals has secured US$1.7m in an oversubscribed seed round led by London Business School’s Enterprise 100 Club (E100 Club) and ACF Investors.

The funding will be used to recruit staff to operate the firm’s pilot plant 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 13,000 tonnes of wood a year, is set to begin in 2023.

Bio-Sep, founded by sugar chemist Stephen Brooks, developed and patented a clean, low-energy solution that uses ultrasound to help break down woody biomass into high-value biochemical products.

Bio-Sep has built on its technology and each £1 of sawdust from sawmills is transformed into £6 of biochemicals with a broad range of potential uses. 

This includes natural lignin – a complex aromatic polymer that is the only natural substitute for phenol, offering a huge number of business opportunities to be used for bio-based resins, composites, coatings, polyurethane foams, bioplastics and more.

Other potential uses include microcrystalline cellulose – found in composites and 3D printing.

“Our technology takes a low-value 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,” said Adrian Black, CEO at Bio-Sep.

“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.”