The biomass expertise group focuses on the thermochemical conversion of sustainably grown biomass into sustainable energy, chemicals and materials.

Biomass has a prominent role in the transition to sustainability. Biomass should preferably be used where there are no or limited sustainable alternatives available:

  • as a high-quality raw material for the biobased economy (e.g. for the production of chemicals)
  • as fuel for process heat in industry, for aviation and shipping as well as heavy road transport
  • as a back-up or for absorbing peaks in spatial heating and electricity generation

TNO, in close cooperation with industry and other knowledge institutions, is responding to this with the development and market introduction of thermochemical conversion technology in combination with catalysis and separation technology for the conversion of biomass.

Biomass pre-treatment and use of residues

Biomass residues such as sewage sludge or agricultural residues are often not directly suitable for use because they contain a lot of water and salts or are difficult to transport and store. Our researchers are working on technologies to make these residues suitable by means of torrefaction or the TNO Torwash® technology, a hydrothermal pre-treatment for energy-efficient dewatering of wet residues.

We also work on the co-production of energy and biochar, and investigate different applications for sustainably produced biochar.

Biomass gasification

Green gas from biomass gasification offers great potential for applications where electrification is still difficult, such as high temperature heat for industry or fuels for aviation, shipping and heavy road transport. Our expert group works on biomass gasification and gas cleaning with the technologies MILENA and OLGA. The focus is on the co-production of valuable chemicals (BTX, ethylene), green gas and green fuels for the transport sector. We also conduct research into the chemical recycling of plastic waste by mild gasification.

Biomass combustion

TNO has unique expertise and research infrastructure for  testing combustion. We offer R&D support for the generation of electricity and heat from 100% biomass and for biomass co-burning and co-firing. We work together with companies to develop the energy island  (central steam supply) in biobased and biorefinery processes. Together with energy companies, we think about the development of a second life for modern coal-fired power stations.


Biomass refining research aims to develop new technologies with companies to convert different types of biomass into fuels, chemicals and materials.  These technologies are an important part of the transition to a biobased economy.

TNO focuses on the fractionation of the second generation biomass (lignocellulose) by means of the patented FABIOLA™ ™ Organosolv process. This process produces hydrolysable cellulose and pure hemi-cellulose sugars as well as a lignin suitable for high-grade applications such as chemicals and materials.

In addition, TNO focuses on the third generation of aquatic biomass (seaweed) as a raw material for energy, chemicals and materials. TNO fractionates and isolates various sugars that serve as a basis for further processing into end products.

Biomass & Energy Efficiency

Dr. ing. Stephan Janbroers


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