Pilot plants & services

Network 1: Starting from biomass

Pilot Plants for nanoadditives and raw materials

Network 1 will oversee the selection and logistics of biomass, its extraction of raw materials and production of different nanoadditives by the treatment and/or reaction of these raw materials.

Bruno Ferreira, Biotrend (PT)

BPF (NL), acib (AT), ctp (FR)

Bringing the extraction of raw materials, solvents, monomers and oligomers from biomass


  • Extraction of cellulose from annual plants
  • Producing solutions of fermentable sugars (eg lactic acid, succinic acid)
  • Enzymatic treatment and highly productive fermentation processes
  • Optimization and scale-up of different fermentation processes


  • Multipurpose bioprocessing pilot plant with stainless steel, steam-sterilizable fermenters of 10L, 50L, 200L
  • Pilot scale downstream processing equipment
  • Process monitoring capabilities (fermentation and DSP, integrated control software)

Application field:

  • Sugar conversion by fermentation
  • Fibres for papers/boards, CMF/CNF
  • Materials for textile, cosmetic, packaging, biomedical applications, automotive, structural applications, agriculture,…

Helene Curmi, CTP (FR)


Extracting biosourced nanoparticles from wood and annual plant biomasses, like for example cellulose nanofibers, cellulose nanocrystals or nanolignin; enabling a continuous production process


  • Chemical hydrolysis of cellulosic fibres
  • Enzymatic and mechanical treatments of biomass
  • Continuous production processes
  • Production capacities up to several kg/day
  • Meet quality requirements of cellulose-based nanoparticles

Twin screw extruder with following characteristics:

  • Evolum 32 bivis extruder (Clextral)
  • Flow: 5 to 20 kg/h in equivalent dry matter content
  • Screw elements diameter: 32mm
  • Total length of barrel: 1280 mm
  • Motor power: 50 kW
  • Rotation speed: 300 – 1200 rpm
  • Temperature regulation of the barrel: 30 to 300°C

Application field:

  • Cosmetic
  • Packaging
  • Coatings, paintings
  • Building block chemicals for adhesives, carbon fibres, phenol sources

Alejandro Aragon, ITENE (ES)

Synthesis of novel block copolymers through polycondensation reactions


  • Polycondensation reactions (eg poly-butylene succinate -PBS)
  • Monitoring of polymerization reactions (inline viscosimeter)
  • Optimization of reaction parameters (time, selection of suitable catalysts, etc.)


  • Polymerization reactors (3L, 10L and 15L)
  • Distillation column to perform polycondensation reactions
  • Inline viscosimeter

Application field:

  • Food and cosmetic packaging
  • 3D printing applications

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Specific additive solutions with improved functionalities for food and cosmetic packaging industry
  • Green chemistry routes for preparing sustainable additives

Zygmund Sadowski, PWR (PL)

acib (AT)

Using biomass from terrestrial annual plants with phytoremediation potential


  • Synthesis of ionic liquids and their application to AgNPs synthesis and adhesion
  • Raw material = Nanocellulose obtained from leaves after polyphenols extraction
  • Product = Aqueous suspensions of AgNPs and nanocellulose

Lab scale production: General scheme of extraction polyphenols from grean tea and synthesis of silver nanoparticles

Sara Fernandes, Centi (PT)


Functional nanocapsules production via nanoemulsion process


  • Production of bionanocapsules based on cellulose derivatives and essential oils with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties;
  • Preparation of the nanoemulsions via mechanical or ultrasonication homogenization with recirculation of liquid media systems;
  • Separation and drying steps from laboratory to pilot scale: cross-flow filtration, rotary evaporator that can operate in continuous mode, centrifuge, and freeze-drying.


  • Jacketed glass reactor with a maximum volume of 10 L equipped with a condenser that also works under low pressure conditions, and several accessories to ensure the preparation of the nanoemulsion and the efficiency of downstream steps.

Specifications of the jacketed reactor pilot line at CeNTI’s facilities.

Maximum capacity 10 L
Internal stirring system Mechanical, up to 500 rpms
Homogenization System Ultrasonication probe with recirculation flow-through cell

Mechanical homogenizer with recirculation flow-through cell

Peristaltic Pump

Thermostatic bath

Downstream steps Rotary evaporator (capacity of 5 L or continuous mode)

Cross-flow filtration



Application fields:

  • To be incorporated into polymer based matrices, such as thermoplastic compounding and/ or liquid coating formulations (water or solvent based)
  • To be directly deposited or coated on packaging surfaces

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Nanocapsules with (bi)functionality and suitable for different applications, namely packaging (e.g. extension of shelf-life), textile (e.g. cosmetotextiles) and cosmetic applications;
  • Scalable process;
  • Green chemistry approach – use of green solvents;
  • Environmentally friendly nanomaterials – low environmental impact process and compostable nanomaterial.

Network 2: Starting from nanomaterials

Pilot plants for Bionanocomposites

Natalia Ortuno, ITENE (ES)

ctp (FR)

Enhancing the chemical compatibility with polymer matrices, improving the properties of certain substrates based on nano-cellulosic materials, reducing the costs of nanomaterial production


  • Liquid-solid and gas-solid reactions
  • Chromatogeny technology (creating a water repellant surface while keeping recyclability and biodegradability)
  • Implementation of different dispersing systems (for breaking particle agglomerates, increasing specific surface area of nanomaterials)


  • Tubular furnace for gas-solid reactions (max. Tª 1200ºC)
  • ATEX reactor (100 L, 20/230ºC, 3 bars) with pHmeter and conductivity to better control the reactions
  • ATEX reactor (100 L, 80ºC, 3 bars)
  • ATEX reactor (20 L, -10/250ºC, 10 bars)
  • Spray drier for water-based nanodispersions

Application fields:

  • To be incorporated into thermoplastic polymeric matrices for food and cosmetic packaging
  • Corrugated board resistant to rain/water
  • Health and medical papers
  • Technical paper for industry and buildings; filters, membranes
  • Papers for agriculture
  • Baking papers
  • Sacks, bags, wrapping papers, lids, box boards, trays, cups, plates
  • Oil absorbent paper

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Green chemistry approach
  • More cost efficiency
  • Environmentally friendly nanomaterials

Elena Torres, AITEX (ES)
Centi (PT), ITENE (ES), Cidaut (ES)

Engineering thermoplastic bionanocomposites for better polymer properties


  • Compounding and reactive extrusion technologies (REX)
  • Polymer functionalization with additives


  • Laboratory extruder (proof of concept experiments)
  • Reactive extrusion polot plant (scale up)
  • 2 different compounding lines composed by twin-screw extruder (40 L/D COPERION, and 44 to 60 L/D LEISTRITZ extrusion lines)
  • MiniTwin gravimetric feeder (specialized in low feeding range capacities)
  • In-line rheometer
  • In-line spectroscopic devices

Application fields:

  • Packaging
  • Textile,
  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Raw material providers for plastic industry
  • Biomedical applications
  • Agriculture

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • REX technology provides stable and irreversible covalent bonds, achieving a uniform distribution of functional moieties into the polymer matrix, and avoiding particle aggregation, migration and leaching.
  • One-step solvent free route to produce novel and high-performance materials with new functionalities
  • Mild and environmentally friendly conditions
  • Tailored configuration by using a processing simulation software
  • Preparation of nanodispersion with low required amount of nanoadditives
  • Control in real-time of the dispersion grade by rheological and spectroscopic measurements through the in-line monitoring devices

Natalia Ortuno, ITENE (ES)


Increase of polymeric nanodispersions production in solvent based systems


Service Raw material Product
Dispersion nanoparticles in situ polymerization:

(Batch process)

Monomers: different families, such as polyesters, polyamides, etc.

Nanoparticles: from biomass (cellulose nanofibers, cellulose nanocrystals, nanolignine), nanoclays (sepiolite, montmorillonite), carbon (graphene, nanotubes) and metallic.

Pellets of Biopolymers with bioadditives
Nanodispersion in polymeric resins (liquid)

Preparation of stable polymer based dispersions with functional nanoadditives.



– Cellulose based nanocapsules, CNFs, CNCs, nanoclays.

Polymer Matrix (PLA, PBS, PHB, or mixtures)

+ Functional Additives (CNF, CNC, nanoclays, or nanocapsules)

+ Performance additives (surfactants, etc…)


  • Synthesis reactor Kiloclave Type 3E/lL/60bar (Büchi AG)(Vessel Volume 2 litres)
  • Jacketed glass reactor with a maximum volume of 10 L equipped with accessories to ensure the preparation of suitable nanodispersions such as mechanical or ultrasonication homogenization with recirculation of liquid media systems.
  • ATEX reactor (100 L, 20/230ºC, 3 bars) with an ultra-high shear mixer to get a high dispersion grade and a pH meter to better control dispersion and stability of the polymeric nanodispersions


Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Control in real-time of the pH of the nanodispersions
  • Stable bionanodispersion to be used as coatings on various substrates: paper, plastic, textile.

Network 3: Starting from bionanocomposites

Pilot plants for bionanoproducts

Network 3 includes pilot plants to obtain bionanoproducts from the different bionanocomposites of network 2.

José Alonso, ITENE (ES)

Cidaut (ES)

Finding sustainable solutions for packaging industry (circular economy) and converting bionanocomposites into rigid and flexible products for packaging.


  • Enhance recycling efficiency by functionalized nanocomposites
  • Development of replacements for multi-layered structures
  • Overcome dispersion when processing bionanocomposites by processing films with different single screw configurations


Cast film extrusion (Dr. Collin co-extrusion line), working as lamination unit or extrusion coating, based on project requirements:
3 single screw extruders, feed block for up to 5 layers – ABCBA, and different multilayer arrangements – ABC, BCB, ACA, bilayer – AC, BC, or monolyer

Flat sheet die (500 mm width, variable thickness 0.3 – 0.9 mm)

Monolayer film extrusion, with mono-screw extruder and calendering system (COLLIN E30P).

    • Flat sheet die has 300 mm width
    • Variable thickness (20 µm- 300 µm), depending on feeding/roll up ratio.
    • Capacity ≈ 3 m/min

Thermoforming: small moulds with increasing height and pattern deformation, optical microscopy (FORMECH HD 686 semiautomatic vacuum assisted thermofoaming machine)

      • workspace of 260x360mm
      • Operation at 6 bar
      • 3D SLA printing (design of specific moulds)

Application field:

  • Packaging/ Food Packaging
  • Agriculture

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Specific solutions for packaging industry with improved functionality
  • Production of thin monolayer bio-films, with tunable properties, based on biopolymer matrices reinforced with different nano-additives.
  • More sustainability

Hélène Curmi, CTP (FR)

Increase the strength of wet mat by using nanofilaments


Service Raw material Product
Cellulosic products:

Evaluation of final properties of paper with nanoadditives in mass

– Based cellulose for the substrates.

– Active nanocapsules, CNFs, CNCs, nanoclays, nanolignin, etc.

Papers with improve or new properties (active properties, grease barrier, water barrier, etc.)
Cellulose nanofibers webs/reels

Production of CNF films and CNF laminated paper/board at lab and pilot scale



Paper/ Cardboard reels

CNF films

CNF laminated paper/board

coming soon …

Application fields:

Romy Naumann and Dr. Anna Große / STFI (DE)


Enhancing the chemical compatibility with polymer matrices, improving the properties of certain substrates made from biobased materials, reducing the costs of nanomaterial production, offer SMEs the option for technical trials at semi-industrial scale

• Production of nonwovens at semi-industrial scale
• Melt-blown nonwovens made of very fine up to ultra-fine filaments for filtration or medical applications, PPE or barrier media
• Fibre nonwovens for automative, packaging and building sectors
• Enhance scalability and reproducibility of produced meltblown and fibre nonwovens


Pilot plant 1: Melt-blown plant (Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG)

  • Extrusion non-woven line with a working width of 60 cm
  • Raw material: PP, PBT, PE, PC, TPU, bio-polymers
  • Filament fineness: < 1µm to 10 µm
  • Throughput of 10 kg polymer granulate per hour,
  • Multirow nozzle unit,
  • Electro charging unit used for online surface modification of filaments during the meltblown process.

Pilot plant 2: Fibre non-woven line (DILO Systems GmbH)

  • Working width from 100 up to 240 cm, working speed max. 10 m/min,
  • Processing of natural and biobased synthetic fibres ranging from 1 – 28 dtex fibre fineness and 40 to 80 mm fibre length,
  • Mass per unit area of fibre nonwovens between 50 – 1500 g/m2
  • Subsequent web bonding is done by needling, stitch-bonding or spunlacing

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Green chemistry approach
  • More cost efficiency
  • Environmentally friendly nanomaterials
  • Technical trials at semi-industrial scale

Manuel Ignacio Gonzalez, CIDAUT


Increasing market applications for injection of rigid packaging and 3D printing


  • Assess performance of bionanocomposites in the injection molding process.
  • Characterize bionanocomposites properties with injection molded ISO specimens.
  • Obtain packaging prototypes to perform testing of new material developments.
  • Study suitability of new materials for injection blow molding.


  • Injection molding machine BATTENFELD HM210/45.
  • Interchangeable inserts mould for ISO specimens or prototypes.
  • Wide range of packaging moulds.
  • ISO 1A, ISO 5A tensile specimen moulds.

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Feasibility analysis of customized filaments for 3D printing.
  • Printing service by homemade 3D printer that allow avoiding some issues related with the hygroscopy of polymers and additives (tendency to water-absorption), and the warping issues due to temperature gradients on the printed parts.
  • Prototyping of printed parts from customized filaments.
  • Biomaterial cards in different softwares, obtained by characterization of printed specimens and mechanical/thermo-mechanical performance simulations.
  • Minimization of post-processing waste
  • Produce rigid packaging optimizing material consumption.
  • Obtain biodegradable packaging with enhanced barrier properties.
  • Decrease market lead time when using biopolymers for injection blow molding.

Victoria Bernardo, CELLMAT (ES)


Development of biobased polymer foams. Design of formulations suitable for foaming, both in the high-density range (weight reduction) and the low-density applications. Fabrication of prototypes with geometries adapted to any need for applications such as weight-reduction (for saving raw materials and cost), or low-density applications such as cushioning, thermal and acoustic insulation, impact absorption, packaging, etc.


  • Fabrication of prototypes using extrusion foaming technology. High and low-density applications.
  • Fabrication of prototypes using bead foaming technology. Low-density applications.
  • Design of specific formulations for foaming applications. Analysis of foamability, assessment of raw materials, selection of additives, evaluation of compatibility with different blowing agents, etc.
  • Production of foamed prototypes at pilot-plat scale. Fast approach towards industrial implementation with results reproducible in the industrial scale.
  • Characterization of foamed prototypes: characteristics of the foam, thermal and mechanical properties, fire resistance, acoustic absorption, etc.


  • Extrusion foaming pilot plant:
    • Single line with output up to 5 kg/h.
    • Possibility of blending up to 5 blowing agents with precise dosage.
    • Line fully instrumented to monitor pressure and temperature.
    • In-line measurements of cellular structure and density.
  • Bead foaming pilot plant:
    • Capacity up to 1 kg/h.
    • High pressure reactor to work with pressures up to 300 bar.
    • Precise temperature control from -40 to 250 ºC.
    • Possibility of working with different blowing agents and co-blowing agents.
    • Lab-scale molding process to produce prototypes.
  • Characterization lab:
    • Climate chamber to set moisture and temperature conditions before testing.
    • Thermal properties and rheological evaluation (foamability study).
    • Mechanical properties and dynamic mechanical analysis.
    • Acoustic absorption and fire resistance.
    • Detailed analysis of the foam structure and evaluation of the relationship between process-structure-properties.

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Fabrication of foamed prototypes at lab-scale with low material consumption.
  • Validation of polymers, additives and formulations intended for foaming applications.
  • Characterization of foams and assessment of applicability.
  • Specialized know-how in the field of cellular materials.
  • In-deep analysis of the foam process.

Sara Fernandes, Centi (PT)



Application of coatings with functional nanoadditives by different coating methods and on different types of substrates to obtain added-value products


  • Application of coatings with functional nanoadditives by: flexure and gravure coating; spray-coating on 3D objects; roll-to-roll spray-coating; roll-to-roll slot-die coating; and electrospraying.
  • Preparation of added-value products using polymers, textiles and paper-based substrates;
  • Improvement of properties such as barrier properties to oxygen and water vapour, optical properties, coefficient of friction, water repellency, antimicrobial, etc.
  • Coating formulations with a variety of viscosities are considered, as well as the possibility of obtaining coatings of different thicknesses.


  • Roll-to-roll spray-coating pilot line with different types of nozzles and configurations, and thermal or UV curing
  • Roll-to-roll slot-die coating pilot line for application of coatings up to 300 mm of width

Specification of the roll-to-roll spray-coating pilot line at CeNTI’s facilities.

Conveyor belt speed 2 – 20 m/min
Nozzles Ultrassound or anti-drip nozzles
Drying / Cure Thermal or UV cure


Specification of the roll-to-roll slot-die coater pilot line at CeNTI’s facilities.

Coating Width 300 mm
Line speed 0-10 m/min
Coatings viscosity 1 – 1,000 mPAS
Roll diameter 500 mm (maximum)

Rotary Koater at ITENE – Automatic printer, coater and laminator for flexible substrates papers, plastic films and metallic foils. This machine is versatile due to its interchangeable heads to perform flexographic, gravure and slot die applications. Besides two ovens for drying, it has also in-line corona treatment and UV curing.

  • Width: 300 mm
  • Speed: 0.5 – 5 m/min ; 5 – 50 m/min
  • Surface treatment: corona
  • Drying: max. 200ºC
  • Curing system: UV curing
  • Printing processes: flexography and gravure (theoretical vol. 10-50 cm3/m2)

Benefits for SMEs and companies:

  • Coated products with functionalities and suitable for different applications, namely packaging and textiles.
  • Scalable and low environmental impact processes.

Management support

For a holistic approach the technical pilot plant networks are supported by management services.

Technical support: Mathematical modelling, in-line modelling
Bionanomaterials safety assessment
Business services & Innovation management services (funding support, business modelling, IP management)