ECN part of TNO, the energy unit of TNO, has a twofold mission: to accelerate the energy transition and to strengthen the competitive position of the Netherlands. ECN part of TNO conducts independent and internationally leading research and stands for an agenda-setting, initiating and supporting role for government, industry and NGOs.

Biomass is essential in the transition to a fully sustainable economy and should be applied primarily in those sectors, that cannot be covered (entirely) by other sustainable sources: as high-value feedstock for the biobased economy (e.g. for the production of chemicals), as sustainable fuel for process heat in industry and for aviation, shipping and heavy-duty road transport, in residential heating and for back-up and flexible power generation. Moreover, the use of biomass in combination with CCS offers the possibility of negative greenhouse gas emissions.

In close cooperation with industry and other RTO’s, the Biomass section of ECN part of TNO is contributing to this by developing and implementing thermochemical conversion technology in combination with catalysis and separation technology for the conversion of biomass into chemicals/materials, fuels, electricity and heat. The focus is on creating maximum added value through smart co-production schemes based on cascading and biorefinery concepts, making use of the “molecular capital” in the biomass and biomass as a sustainable carbon source. Sustainability is a prerequisite.

ECN part of TNO – Biomass conducts desk studies (e.g. technology scans, techno-economic evaluations, LCA), technology development and support to market implementation and commercial application with high-quality R&D services. The programme covers the entire value chain from biomass feedstock (excl. cultivation and harvesting) to end products, and comprises the following four main topics with related special focus areas:


Biomass upgrading and use of residues

  • Torrefaction
  • Hydrothermal processing (wet torrefaction, TORWASH®)
  • Biochar and energy co-production and valorisation of biochar and biobased residues


Biomass gasification

  • Biofuels for transport and green gas
  • Co-production of chemicals (e.g., BTX, ethylene)
  • Support to demonstration and market introduction of gasification and gas cleaning technologies (e.g., MILENA/OLGA)

Biomass combustion

  • Stand-alone biomass boilers
  • Development of the energy island in bio-based/biorefinery processes
  • 2nd life of coal-fired power plants
  • R&D services to support market implementation of biomass conversion technology

Biorefinery concepts

  • Biomass fractionation (e.g., FABIOLA™)
  • Processing of cellulose/hemicellulose into intermediates for chemistry/materials and fuels
  • Lignin valorisation (e.g., pyrolytic depolymerisation)
  • Seaweed biorefinery processing


For more details about the biomass programme of ECN part of TNO, please visit our website.

ECN part of TNO

Dr. ir.  Jaap Kiel

Programme Manager Biomass

Westerduinweg 3, Petten / Postbus 1, Petten

+31 888 662 308