Last 3rd – 4th of May 2022, the BioSFerA Consortium met for the first time at the CIB-CSIC headquarter in Madrid.

After two years of online work, the 11 partners joined in a physical General Assembly. The face-to-face meeting has paid off, increasing the collaboration and ideas among the partners.

Productive discussions came out within the Consortium showing the interconnection among the research activities and how open debate and opinions sharing can improve the project’s final results.

In the afternoon of the 4th of May, BioSFerA also led a workshop dedicated to the “Advanced technologies for green molecules production”. The event was organised in hybrid format with the collaboration of other two projects working on bioprocess research, CO2SMOS and LIFE BIOMASS C+. Interesting speech came also by Margarita De Gregorio, Director of the Spanish industrial platform BIOPLAT and representative of the Spanish and European bioeconomy strategy, brining important insights on bioproducts and their role on the climate crisis action.

4th GA BioSFerA Meeting

Advanced technologies for green molecules production workshop’s panelists


BioSFerA is ready to annouce its project newsletter.


Starting our third year of research work, we have decided to promote the project with a dedicated newsletter available every 4 months where go deepen on BioSFerA progresses and results, share news and opportunities related to biofuels in maritime and aviation industry.

Wheter you are a researcher, sectorial company or policy makers you might be interested to find some specific articles where better understand the BioSFerA technology potentialities from its development until its final application.

To discover more SUBSCRIBE HERE


Valuable mid-term results for BioSFerA H2020

At nearly half of its way, the BioSFerA project is aligned with the planned activities and some first interesting results highlight the technical value of the BioSFerA concept. Achieved the potential assessment of its replicability across Europe at commercial scale, as well as the identification of the overall value chain, progresses follow from the biological treatment tests of the syngas performed at lab scale.

More in detail, Moorella and Clostridium strains have been already identified as the wild type promising species, showing high resistance to the syngas contaminants for both wild and genetically modified type. Currently CSIC is working on the recombination strains phase, planning to perform tests in real conditions and apply modifications in the yeast to produce C14-chain length fatty acids.

Encouraging results for scale-up activities are also obtained in the gas fermentation tests, where BBEPP performed experiments in bioreactor using glucose as a carbon source, as well as the oxygen tolerance tests in serum bottles. On its side, CARTIF confirms the Moorella Thermoacetica wild-type strain 2955 as the best anaerobic bacterial strain for gas fermentation trials in bioreactors and identify the so called Fröstl medium, characterized by the absence of yeast extract, as the medium with best performance. Next steps expect to work on the effects of the contaminant’s accumulation in a 1.5-litre pressurized bioreactor with a gas recirculation system (CARTIF) and on a continuous bioreactor of 10 litre capacity where a cell recycle system is installed (BBEPP).

For the optimization of TAGs production from acetate fermentation, processes in bioreactor with the select wild type strains W29 or YB-392 of oleaginous yeast Yarrowia Lipolytica have been explored. The experiments completed by CARTIF in batch mode show a high total lipid content and titer achievement, to be improved in the next steps focusing on the cell recycling and joint feeding strategy of N and C nutrients in the substrates, with the double ability to increase cell growth, prevent lipid inhibition and citrate formation. The better performance observed with the increase in the C/N ration of the feed have been confirmed by BBEPP tests, which is now moving further working on the development of TAG identification, quantification method together with the installation of a 7-litre continuous bioreactor with a cell recycle system. Preliminary tests on lipid purification analysis also involve ENVIPARK with a first approach in laboratory on a Y. Lipolytica bacteria culture sample provided by BBEPP.

Besides the lab-scale tests, VTT is working on the strategy for syngas cleaning modification in the pilot campaign and GoodFuels presented a preliminary analysis on crucial parameter for BioSFerA fuels market penetration to meet specific standards and products specifications.

On the communication side, the BioSFerA dissemination results is proceeding with the creation of a ResearchGate project profile, giving visibility through papers and activities shared with the scientific community. The official BioSFerA newsletter is also under development to disseminate the innovative BioSFerA concept to a wide public. Although the consortium has never met during this first year and a half, the team is focused on the project’s goals and showed productive. Good feedback also come from the European Officer after the acceptance of the 1st Periodic Report and its positive evaluation on the promising results and works lead until now by the BioSFerA project.

BioSFerA meets refining industry leaders at the Downstream 4.0 Summit

Mr. Maarten Van Haute from Q8 Research partecipates at the Downstream 4.0 Summit, the international summit gathering more than 20 globlal industry leaders to accelerate refining business conversion towards 2050 goals, by adopting and deploying new energy transition trends with technology and production developments. A good opportunity for discussion and presentation of the research development of BioSFerA project.

The summit was also the occasion for the publication of a scientific article for the specialised magazine Biofuel International, September/October issue: “Highlighting biofuels production from syngas fermentation – Setting the course for sustainable aviation and marine fuels”.

BioSFerA project presented at ECOS 2021 Conference

CERTH team has successfully participated to the ECOS 2021 Conference presenting the paper ‘Aviation & maritime biofuels production via a combined thermochemical/biochemical pathway: A conceptual design and process simulation study’.  The presented paper contained a first orientation of the suggested concept from start-to-end, as developed within the first year of the project.

BioSFerA H2020, first year project results

BioSFerA project aims to develop a cost-effective production method of sustainable aviation and maritime fuels, by combining different technologies. Despite the Covid 19 restrictions, after one year since the beginning of the project, the first goals have been successfully achieved.

First of all CERTH carried out an assessment of the potential to replicate the BioSFerA concept across Europe at commercial scale. This assessment includes specific case studies in 4 European countries: Greece, Italy, Spain and Finland. In each country the consortium selected a location suitable to host a production plant with a 200 MWth capacity. Critical parameters for the selected region were the average feedstock cost and the suitable feedstock type. The assessment shows that even when calculating with the most conservative assumptions, it is possible to obtain biogenic waste feedstock for a maximum cost of 10€/MWh.

Secondly, together with the technology providers in the consortium, CERTH described a preliminary overall BioSFerA value chain. Process models were developed and various simulations with altering operational parameters were performed. The overall process can be separated in three distinct parts: the thermochemical part, the biotechnological part and the thermocatalytic part. Heat & mass balances were calculated and evaluated with a set of performance indicators.


VTT gasified five pelleted types of feedstock, i.e. forest residue, bark, straw, sunflower, olive pruning. The gasification tests confirmed that all the feedstock types may be used in the forthcoming pilot phase. Research also revealed that tar reforming is a prerequisite prior to syngas fermentation due to the significant presence of inhibiting components.


In parallel, the syngas fermentation to acetate has proceeded and five acetogenic strains in eight different media have been examined. Clostridia proliferate easily in YTF (fructose) medium and Moorella in TSB (Tryptic Soy Broth) medium. HCN, typically present in syngas from biogenic waste, may be an inhibitor of bacterial growth. However, all the selected strains became resistant to fairly high concentrations of HCN. C. autoethanogenum showed the highest consumption of CO & H2,  while M. thermoacetica had the best performance in terms of microbial growth and acetate concentration. Genes have been selected to decrease or knockout ethanol production. Currently CSIC & BBEPP are mainly working with Moorella, while protocols are being developed to transform the Clostridia and Moorella strains by electroporation. All the described activities are highly active and the experiments are in progress.


Concerning the acetate fermentation for the production of TAGs, seven strains of the oleaginous yeast Y. lipolytica were tested. All the experiments were performed in shake-flask culture, which caused a slow growth of the yeast due to critical drop of the pH in the medium. As a result, the experiments must be reproduced in bioreactors. The main fatty acids in the produced TAGs are palmitic, linoleic and oleic acids. Protocols are under development to improve the production of TAGs, by metabolic engineering in the wild type yeast strains W29 or YB-392.

Biosfera H2020, first project achievements

BioSFerA aims to develop a cost-effective interdisciplinary technology to produce sustainable aviation and maritime fuels. During the first months of activity, the consortium has proceeded with some preparatory activities including the elicitation of stakeholders and market needs, the definition of key performance indicators (KPIs) for the evaluation of the project, and the BioSFerA feedstock selection and characterization.  


Biosfera - Biofuel for Biotravel


The elicitation of stakeholders requirements aims to assess the potential replicability and the effectiveness of the project functionalities provided as well as to align them with the market needs in order to ensure a well-oriented project implementation. Thanks to this analysis, specifications and peculiarities that need to be met for each of the involved stakeholders (technology providers, feedstock suppliers, refineries, fuel traders, final end-users, research centers, policy makers) have been gathered, starting from the feedstock supply and conversion and ending to the targeted drop in biofuels for the aviation and maritime sector.

The selection of KPIs has been performed in order to assess the overall concept development in terms of a technical, economic, environmental and social perspective. In particular, 23 technical KPIs, 10 economic KPIs, 15 environmental KPIs and 12 social KPIs were elected.

Finally, the feedstock selection was based on the fulfillment of three main prerequisites: availability/sustainability (i.e. capacities for large scale applications), favorable technical characteristics for good performance at the integrated BioSFerA system and market competitiveness. The selected BioSFerA feedstock inventory includes agricultural (prunings, straw), forestry (logging) and industrial (wood) residues as well as airports/ports derived biogenic wastes. Based on this selection but also on previous successfully tested similar feedstock, bench-scale gasification tests have started.

In the next months the consortium will finalize a case studies analysis aiming to assess the replicability of BioSFerA concept at commercial scale in terms of feedstock capacities. This will be achieved via the development of potential commercial BioSFerA scenarios across Europe involving the BioSFerA feedstock selection and current techno-economic data of the selected countries. Moreover, CERTH with the support of the project technology providers will define the main concept for the overall process for the conversion of the selected feedstock to drop-in biofuels. Process simulations to solve heat and mass balances for the overall process will be performed, acting as a benchmark for the following lab and pilot activities.

On the lab scale gasification and syngas fermentation tests for the biological production of syngas are ongoing.

Gasification of different biomass (sunflower husk and ash, Greek olive prunings pellets, straw) has been tried in a lab scale gasifier in order to collect information for the future scale up, together with evaluations about the contaminants influence on the process (e.g oxygen, nitrogen…). In the meantime, four acetogenic strains have been tested, two Clostridia and two Morella, using the water after reformer with good results (both showed to be able to growth in the media). A M. thermoacetica strain has been also tested with similar results. Further achievements will be available soon allowing to identify the most suitable Clostridium strain in terms of growth and productivity as well as the best cultivation media.

BioSFerA project H2020: activities and goals

The web kick-off meeting held on 30th April 2020, launched the activities of BioSFerA project (BIOfuels production from Syngas FERmentation for Aviation and maritime use), funded by European Unions’ Horizon 2020 research programme.



BioSFerA aims to develop cost-effective interdisciplinary technology to produce sustainable aviation and maritime fuels. Biogenic residues will be gasified, and the syngas will be fermented to produce bio-based triacylglycerides (TAGs). At the end of the project at least two barrels of Hydrotreated TAGs will be produced as next generation aviation and marine biofuels.

By exploiting the synergies between biological and thermochemical technologies, BioSFerA will achieve a total carbon utilization above 35% and a minimum selling price <0.7-0.8 €/l. BioSFerA aims to evolve the proposed technology from TRL3 to TRL5. In the TRL3 phase, extensive lab-scale tests will take place in order to optimize the process and increase its feedstock flexibility in terms of non-food biobased blends. Then, building upon lab tests, the pilot-scale runs (TRL5) will investigate the overall process.

In the framework of BioSFerA project the hydrocarbons compatibility with aviation and marine standards for drop-in fuels will also be verified. Techno-economic, market, environmental, social and health and safety risk assessments will be performed on the overall BioSFerA process and, together with a process model, allow to achieve a realistic scaling-up scenario. This will allow to develop a cost-effective and versatile value chain with favourable condition for profitable investments around Europe.

Biosfera international consortium is composed by some research and public institutes:

CERTH (Greece), VTT (Finland), Fundacion Cartif (Spain), Bio base europe pilot plant VZW (Belgium), CSIC (Spain), National technical university of Athens (Greece); and some private companiesKuwait Petroleum Research and Technology B.V (Netherlands), Rina consulting spa (Italy), Sumitomo shi fw energia oy (Finland), GOOD FUELS (Netherlands), Environment Park spa (Italy).