In order to attain the targets of the Paris agreement on climate change and keep global warming well below 2°C, we need to totally stop burning fossil fuels within the next ~25 years and start removing CO₂ from the atmosphere (negative CO₂ emissions).

In the EU, since 1990, all sectors of the economies have diminished their greenhouse gas emissions, except for the transport sector that has increased its emissions by 20%. Even if electrification and hydrogen will certainly help, it is impossible to totally and rapidly phase-out fossil fuels in the transport sector without using liquid biofuels that can be used in the existing cars, buses, trucks, boats and aeroplanes.

Producing biodiesel, through a process called trans-esterification, requires bio-sourced fatty-acids together and methanol. Today’s methanol is usually fossil-based, which means that biodiesel is not 100% bio-sourced.

CONVERGE will bring a solution to this problem by developing a mean to produce methanol from agricultural waste at costs competitive to the fossil alternative, opening the way to truly bio-sourced biodiesel.

Through the CONVERGE Project the EU Commission will spend 5 million euros to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of biodiesel production from waste biomass. Through new technologies, the biodiesel production output will increase by 12 percent while reducing costs by more than 10 percent. 

Today, less than 0.1 percent of all biomass is used to produce biodiesel, due to an inefficient and complex production process. The CONVERGE project will demonstrate a new innovative process that will make biodiesel competitive with fossil fuels in terms of both effectiveness and price.

In addition, CONVERGE will explore the possibility of BECCS (Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage) in conjunction with biodiesel production to generate negative emissions, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. IPCC’s most recent report on staying below 1.5 degrees C calls for immediate deployment of negative emissions including BECCS. 

Another advantage of CONVERGE, is that during the methanol production, valuable chemical products will be produced as co-products: aromatic molecules, hydrogen and CO₂. This pure biogenic CO₂ can then be safely stored in a deep geological formation, allowing a net removal of the CO₂ from the atmosphere (considering the whole process from the production of the biomass to the geological injection), contributing to the global Negative CO₂ Emission effort.

Fig. GHG emissions by sector in the EU (base year 1990) source: https://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport_en Note: * Transport includes international aviation but excludes international maritime; ** Other include fugitive emissions from fuels, waste management and indirect CO₂ emissions.