Six new partnerships between Dutch and Brazilian researchers in the field of Biobased Economy

6 February 2018

Together with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), its Brazilian sister organization, NWO has awarded grants to six joint projects in the Biobased Economy programme. NWO is making €1.7 million available to fund the Dutch part of this research project.

The sustainable use of biomass as a raw material is a central plank of the Biobased Economy theme. The Netherlands has a solid, longstanding reputation in the fields of agricultural research, ecology, chemistry and biotechnology. Given its enormous acreage of agricultural land, Brazil is strongly committed to the transition to a Biobased Economy, and to the massive research and development effort involved. Each country’s expertise in this area effectively complements the other’s. Over the next few years, the Dutch and Brazilian researchers will cooperate on a range of scientific and technological challenges. Their work in these areas will contribute to a future Biobased Economy.

For more information about the NWO-FAPESP Biobased Economy programme, see, or contact Dr Tim Vos at

Granted projects

Biomass contains the carbon required for making sustainable chemical building blocks and fuels, but also contains too much oxygen.
Prof. dr. Harry Bitter (Wageningen University) and dr. Cristiane Rodella (Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials) aim to deoxygenate biomass using chemical catalysts that contain readily available metals.

Dr. ir. H.W.M. Hilhorst (Wageningen University and Research) and dr. Edvaldo da Silva (São Paulo State University) work together to better understand chlorophyll degradation in seeds and identify the main regulators of this phenomenon, which is known as the ‘green seed problem’. This problem is induced by climate change and applies to species such as soy bean.

50% of newly emerging plant diseases are caused by viruses. Dr. ir. Richard Kormelink (Wageningen University) and dr. Juliana Freitas-Astua (Embrapa) collaborate to better understand the molecular biology and ecology of plant-virus-vector relationships, as a basis for the development of integrated virus management strategies.

Prof. dr. ir. R.F. Hanssen (Delft University of Technology) and prof. dr. Paulo Magalhães (University of Campinas) will employ satellite remote sensing data and precision agriculture analysis to support the Brazilian Low Carbon Agriculture program from a water use efficiency, crop productivity and soil quality point of view.

Substituting fossil fuel based plastics by biobased and bio-degradable alternatives could positively impact the environment. Dr. ing. Aljoscha Wahl (Delft University of Technology) and prof. dr. Jonas Contiero (São Paulo State University) propose a technological change for the biotechnological production of polyhydroxy-alkanoates, a precursor for bioplastics.

The project of dr. Dirk-Jan Scheffers (University of Groningen) and dr. Henrique Ferreira (São Paulo State University) focuses on the control of the bacterial pathogen that causes citrus canker. The aim is to synthesize biodegradable antibacterials from agricultural waste to combat this disease.

Source: NWO