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Rivalta Scrivia (IT)
The Rivalta Scrivia R&D Center is the largest of the R&D centers belonging to the Mossi Ghisolfi Group and it covers a surface area of 4600m2. It employs 150 researchers, among which engineers, chemists and industrial chemists, biologists and biotechnologists. Their mission is to develop novel processes, both chemical and biochemical, and new technologies, based on non-food raw materials, primarily biomass.

Given its dimensions, the number of scientists and its game-changing research pathways, Rivalta stands out as one of the leading Centers of excellence for chemistry and biochemisty of lignocellulosic materials and derivatives worldwide, and it is the iconic proof of the effort of years invested in Group Research and innovation. Here is where, spawned from the creation of a holistic environmentally and economically sustainable industrial process, the PROESA™ technology was developed, to produce ethanol for vehicle transportation from lignocellulosic biomass, through fermentation of sugar intermediates obtained by breaking down the biomass itself.

The same sugars produced through the PROESA™ process can also be engaged in other green chemistry reactions, not only for production of different biofuels, but also for generating chemical building blocks, such as butanol, ethylene glycol and propylene glycol, fatty alcohols, and many other compounds, at competitive prices and with lower GHG emissions compared to traditional petrochemical routes.

The R&D Center is organized into two Divisions.
The Project Division focusses on management of research projects born and raised in-house.
The activities pertaining to this division are several and diverse, spanning all areas of applied and industrial research, and thus enabling our clients to access the highest technical competencies, the most versatile technology solutions, and the most advanced engineering processes.

Key activities are:

  • Constant optimization of the PROESA™ technology, both through basic research and through subsequent process modeling and control, related to the industrial plant.
  • Implementation of novel 2nd generation technologies for the synthesis of biochemicals and biofuels.
  • Development of internal projects and partnerships with companies and leading R&D centers in the renewable energy space.
  • Patent applications that certify the innovative content of the technologies in the making.
The Operations Division manages the pilot plants and labs, in which all experimental work for the Center is carried out.
The pilot units allow to validate processes developed at lab scale and to plan the correct scale-up to industrial size.
The main pilot plant is dedicated to production of simple C5 and C6 second generation sugars via PROESA™ on this unit it is possible to gauge the process not only from an engineering standpoint, but also capture chemical and biotechnological aspects of performance; therefore, all ideas and improvements conceived by the researchers, and confirmed by the process engineers, are implemented here.

The other two pilot plants that operate in Rivalta use the sugar streams generated from the PROESA™ process, to produce “green” molecules such as glycols, carboxylic acids, fatty alcohols and highly requested intermediates, that find their way into large markets such as polymers, plastics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and detergents.

The Laboratories are divided into three areas: biological processes, chemical processes, and analytical chemistry. In the bioprocesses lab, main activities include enzymatic hydrolysis, propagation and fermentation trials, with the purpose of:
  • Assessing performance of hydrolytic enzymes and microorganisms for hydrolysis and fermentation of biomass.
  • Carrying out small scale hydrolysis and fermentation screening tests, to identify the best set of operating conditions at pilot scale.
Within the chemical processes lab, using advanced instrumentation designed and conceived in-house, catalytic reactions are carried out. Key objectives of the lab are:
  • To examine and optimize all variables of the novel reactions, paying particular attention to the properties of the catalysts used in the reactions.
  • Identify “clean technology” reaction mechanisms, that can take place in a water based reaction medium, thereby easy to manage and environmentally friendly.
Finally, in the analytical lab, incoming biomass varieties are characterized for the entire R&D Center (wheat straw, bagasse, sugar cane straw, sorghum, Arundo donax, acacia, poplar, pennisetum purpureum, miscanthus etc.). Such biomass is then processed and transformed, first into sugars and then into chemicals, and all samples subsequently generated in the other R&D labs and on the pilot plant are also analyzed.

Main tasks of this lab are:

  • Composition analyses of raw materials.
  • Analyses of intermediate streams (pretreated, hydrolyzed, fermented) generated on the pilot plant.
  • Analyses of samples generated in the bioprocess and catalysis labs.
  • Analyses inherent to partnership projects.
  • Analyses dedicated to patenting the inventions of R&D center.
  • Analyses related to problem solving at industrial plant.
  • Design and development of new analytical methods.
The constant synergy between the two Divisions, together with the reciprocal and continuous cooperation among the researchers involved in the different areas, allows to accelerate and optimize each aspect of the complex and articulate research activity ongoing within the Center, guaranteeing not only precision and accuracy of all results achieved, but also robust validations of all the different phases of project design, at different scale up levels and at industrial sites.