Omya is a leading global producer of industrial minerals – mainly derived from calcium carbonate, dolomite and perlite – and a worldwide distributor of specialty chemicals. The company provides a wealth of innovative product solutions that contribute to its customers’ competitiveness and productivity in multiple industries such as Construction, Paper & Board, Polymers, Food and Personal & Home Care.

Omya further provides Environmental Solutions targeting the agriculture, water and energy markets. Founded in 1884 in Switzerland, Omya has a global presence extending to more than 175 locations in over 50 countries with 9,000 employees. Committed to implementing the principles of sustainability at all company levels, Omya provides added value products and services from responsibly sourced materials to meet the essential needs of current and future generations. In particular, the Group Environmental Solutions will be involved in the implementation of the BIO-BEETCHEM proposal. Their main tasks are: Innovation, including the development of new products for the Agriculture market, technical marketing, business and market development.

Role in the project

Omya will mainly validate a by-product from the AFTER-BIOCHEM process to produce a new fertilizer product: formulation, implementation & activity demonstration. A significant annual volume of this by-product, roughly 20 kt, will result as a sidestream from operating the flagship biorefinery. This by-product has potential applications as agricultural fertilizer and has already successfully applied for obtaining organic farming certification. Pilot production trials will continue to standardize its quality and to integrate OMYA’s requirements. This will include some work on post-fermentation processes to get a dry form adapted to the transformation steps managed by Omya. Once the flagship biorefinery has been started and validated, this sidestream will be set up and validated at an industrial scale and quality targets will be checked on several batches, produced with feedstock from various beet sugar production sites.

Within the AFTER-BIOCHEM proposal, Omya will aim at creating a new agronomic initiative from the by-product by combining it with its own production of calcium carbonate, which is already used as fertilizer in agriculture. To develop this initiative, two steps must be undertaken determining the right marketing approach in terms of product combination and the industrial option to optimize the cost/benefit impact of this initiative, especially in terms of agronomic impact. Therefore, Omya will perform different options with different sidestream batches and will produce several different formulations for agronomic trials. Omya will perform trials at the laboratory scale as well as in greenhouses, with several different formulations to check the agronomic interest of this new fertilizer compared to currently available products. These tests will help determine the optimal approach to be tested at a larger field scale. Omya will mobilize its commercial network in the agricultural sector to build a panel of experimental sites. The company will then produce and characterize this new fertilizer offer, if appropriate, and manage experimental agronomic follow-up.