31 Aug 2017

8th Life Cycle Management Conference

Rehap will be attending the 8th Life Cycle Management Conference 2017 on the 3rd – 6th September in Luxembourg City, organised under the theme “Designing sustainable technologies, products and policies – from science to innovation.”

Lars Wietschel, PhD student from the University of Augsburg and recent attendee on the Mobile Flip workshop in Paris, along with Andrea Thorenz and Axel Tuma, will be presenting a poster at the LCM event. The poster entitled, ‘Raw material potential for biopolymers in Europe’ will be entered under the category “Raw material supply chains in light of life cycle economy”.

The poster explains some of the activity from the project’s work on waste management, as Lars explains, “The content is mainly about the waste from agriculture and forestry that is available in the European Union and testing which product has the most potential economically and environmentally.”

The poster breaks down into digestible sections the processes and materials that are available to help make substitutes for petrochemicals out of agroforestry waste that has no use in food, feed or industrial production. Diagrams explain a three-step approach to decide which agroforestry waste shows the largest potential - wheat straw, grain maize straw, barley straw, and rape straw.

Results from the four products tested using the three-step approach reveal that wheat straw is the most important agroforestry waste product, with the potential to be the most economic and offer the most environmentally-friendly replacement for petrochemicals. The poster concludes by drawing attention to the availability of these agroforestry products in Europe, and mentions the next steps the University of Augsburg will be taking in the Rehap project.

Lars adds: “I hope the poster will successfully highlight some of the work we have been doing and I hope to get feedback from other professionals who might be working on the same, or doing similar things in this research field. The event is about meeting other people, seeing other presentations and other posters, but it’s also a great way to broaden your horizon in this field with new information and new input.”

The LCM conferences are one of the leading conference series worldwide in the field of environmental, economic and social sustainability, and a unique feature of the event is developing practical solutions for the implementation of life cycle approaches into strategic and operational decision-making.

The conference is for international decision-makers from science, industry, NGOs and public bodies to come together and work in the field of technology towards more sustainable solutions.

04 Aug 2017

Q&A with Tarja Tamminen: Rehap in Brazil

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd is hopping across the pond - and a little bit further - to Brazil, to attend and have the pleasure of presenting at one of the oldest and most established events in the field of biomass utilisation and bioeconomy in the world. 

On its maiden trip to South America, the 19th International Symposium on Wood, Fiber and Pulping Chemistry (ISWFPC) is taking place from 30th August to 1st September, and will be covering topics such as: chemistry, fibers, pulping, fossil energy, energy, renewable energies and biorefinery.

To a gathering of renowned international experts and relevant researchers and process engineers, Rehap project partners VTT will be presenting at ISWFPC on the influence of softwood bark origin on tannin recovery by hot-water extraction.

The presentation, led by principle scientist at VTT Tarja Tamminen, is based on master’s student Miikka Ruuskanen’s thesis written as part of the Rehap project, The influence of the origin and treatment history of spruce and pine bark on the extraction of tannin, and is set to be an interesting topic for discussion.

We spoke to Tarja about what to expect at ISWFPC.

Have you attended this event before?

Yes, I think I have been to most of them and I also personally know more than half of the presenters at the event, so I am really looking forward to going there and seeing what the presentations are about this year. Up until 10 years ago the event was more focused on pulping as that is what biorefinery was when the event began, and so now it has broadened into different kinds of uses of biomass, but with the main focus centred on wood chemistry. This means looking at ways to exploit the use of wood in a chemical sense – not construction – through chemical modifications to make other wood or wood components and wood fractions.

What will you be presenting on?

Continuing on from what I just said about the conferences’ main focus being on wood, in Rehap we are working with bark. Currently, making pulp and paper is where the value of the biomass product comes from but when you make pulp and paper you need to separate the bark from the wood. This creates a bark side-stream, which is where Rehap comes in. It would be beneficial for the industry to find higher value for the bark side-stream and so at VTT we have been developing methods to extract tannins out of wood bark to improve the valorisation of the value chain from bark side-streams. This is where we hope our presentation will offer interesting results for anybody working with wood or its value chain.

Which presentations would you recommend to those interested in the work of Rehap?

To name a few:

  • “Valorisation of lignocellulosic biomass residues via hydrothermal treatment and carbonisation” – this is on softwood bark which is one of the raw materials in the project and the presentation will include characterisation methods and data
  • “On the reactivity of lignin-carbohydrate complexes (LCCs) under pulping and biorefining conditions” – LCCs are also present in Rehap raw materials and fractions
  • “Measurement of leaf lignin of a Japanese oak tree (Quercus crispula) by a combination of methoxy determination with alkaline nitrobenzene oxidation and its application” – a poster on the challenges for determining lignin in the presence of tannin. VTT has also developed a method based on methoxyl content for the bark samples.
03 Aug 2017

Rehap meeting round-up

The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland hosted the second Rehap consortium meeting, where partners came together to discuss the overall progress of the project, looking closely at results and developments from specific studies such as the life-cycle analysis (LCA), and lay strategies for future activities and actions.

Partners from D’Appolonia (DAPP) commenced by presenting information on key performance parameters for the sustainability, energy and techno-economical evaluation project, identifying the key partners for each production chain, the data required, and pending plans for partners to deliver price information and possible by/ co-products for benchmark analysis.

Mr. Axel Tuma from the University of Augsburg, Germany, presented partners with data gathered from the first deliverable on agroforestry and displayed interesting results on where biomass resoRehap_workshop_3urces are available in Europe. Click here: Raw material potential for biopolymers in Europe.

Partners Cartif, explained their study on quality standards and protocols of agricultural materials – in particular wheat, maize and barley - in order to determine critical strictures and prevent issues such as the over reaping of materials, and to set regulations that ensure the final product meets set standards and purpose. A biomass database has been created to keep track of the results from biomasses treated within the project.

Further discussions followed on the optimisation of biomass waste streams, with several partners presenting materials they will be testing for the development of final products. For example, a smaller sample is needed of wheat straw lignin cake for further characterisation and content testing, and increased testing of spruce bark is needed for improved tannin yield.

In light of these technical Rehap copydevelopments, Mr. Hendrik Waegeman explained the upscaling capacities and equipment’s available at BBEPP for future processing.

Finally, Insight Publishers Ltd. presented updates on the project communication and dissemination and the work done so far in raising the profile of Rehap and the development of the Rehap website.

The meeting ended with partners presenting a number of actions to be completed over the next six months, to be reviewed in October 2017.

03 Aug 2017

SPIRE EU Process Industry Conference 2017

The Process Industry Conference is a SPIRE mid-term policy event and will be taking place on 19 September 2017 in Brussels to discuss and showcase some of the exciting projects ongoing with SPIRE.

The event will be dedicated to picturing the future EU Process Industry and what can be implemented if appropriate investments are met.

The event is open to all interested stakeholders and will include a number of interesting lectures from industry led experts on the topic of ‘A look to the future’. After a lunch of networking, the afternoon will be jam-packed with compelling short five to six minute pitches from SPIRE projects.

Under three parallel projects’ sessions, projects will give a short overview of how they are tackling and solving EU and SPIRE needs, and how the project will be able to bridge needs to solutions. The three sessions are:

  1. Modelling and integrated process control; Process optimisation
  2. Valorisation of different energy sources; Adaptable processes using alternative feedstock
  3. Waste to resource; Industrial symbiosis; Water; Business models

The audience will have the opportunity to vote for their most favoured project on the basis of the projects ‘look to the future: to what extent did the project’s presentation make you dream about the future?’, and ‘creativity: which picture and slogan was more appealing?’.  

Two additional days, 20 and 21 September, dedicated to thematic sessions and a brokerage event will be hosted for A.SPIRE members only.

Registration is now open.

For more information visit SPIRE website.

25 Jul 2017

Collecting the data to prove the benefits of REHAP products

Work is now underway to perform detailed life cycle assessment of the social, economic and environmental benefits of the planned REHAP products. This work will examine every step of the processes involved in taking the raw bio-material to a green product to be used by the construction industry. Giorgio Urbano of Italian firm D’Appolonia is leading this work and here explains progress being made at the start of the project.

Some of the first activities in the REHAP project to start producing concrete results are those related to assessing the energy, technological and economical impacts of the materials being developed for the final bio-products, all along their life cycle from raw material to final product. This vital work is being done in Work Package 6, which has defined some clear objectives:

  • To define a set of key performance indicators (KPI) for the environmental, social and economic impact evaluation of the REHAP processes.
  • To carry out market analysis of competitive materials and products on the market • To manage the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Costing (LCC) and Social Life Cycle Assessment for the different technologies
  • To perform integrated environmental, economic and social assessment of the REHAP bio-based building panel
  • To lead resource efficiency studies for further processes optimisation

This work is being led by Giorgio Urbano of D’Appolonia, which will specifically evaluate the environmental, economic and social impacts of Rehap bio-based processes through Life Cycle Assessment (E-LCA), Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LLCA) and Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA).

These assessments will be further used as a starting point to evaluate the environmental, economic and social impacts of the developed bio-based building panels. The work will also involve comparing the REHAP panels to conventional non-renewable building panels available on the market, which offer similar performance credentials. REHAP expects that the environmental and cost benefits of its panels will then form the basis of a commercial business plan that will enable their penetration into the market as a viable green building solution.

Later on in the project, a full market analysis will also be performed to ensure that the pricing for the REHAP panels is competitive compared to the fossilbased alternatives and other bio-based alternatives already on the market.

“This work has now started in the project,” says Giorgio Urbano. “We need to develop a product that has positive economic, environmental and social impact. Every partner in the project is providing a piece of this bigger picture, so we need to start now and collect all these inputs and data to make sure that we build the right final product. By analysing the impact of each part of the process, we will be able to do that.

“So, in order to have an accurate assessment of the total impact of the final product, we need to have all the inventory data, starting with the raw material and passing through the entire processes including the final production of the panels,” he explains further.

“For example, in the green cement, we need a plasticizer that is made with some bio-based materials, but we have to produce these biobased materials in the first place. To produce these, we need lignin and to have this lignin we need straw – the base material that starts the whole thing off and where we start our LCA.”

At this stage of the project, the work being done by D’Appolonia is in the scoping phase, where the team is defining the pathways for the materials and processes towards the final product and how these interact as well as the interdependencies of the various aspects of the work within the project by other partners.

“Part of the task ahead, therefore, is to build a map indicating where the interactions between data, partners, processes and materials lie. We have now built this map,” explains Urbano.

“We started with the project descriptions, describing the activities of each partner and collecting the data provided from them for each process step for the four products being developed. We started with simplified blocks for a diagram, in which material flows were included. Then we identified the responsible partner for each of the project stages and looked at how they would be providing the related data, to assess the environmental, economic and social impact of the target processes.

“We have also started to define the table of contents related to the market analysis; what could be foreseen for month 18, for example and so, we have provided this structure, where each responsible partner will be in charge of providing some market data about a competitive product in order to evaluate the market potential for each of the intermediate products.”

With the framework in place, the next stage is to start collecting the data, split into blocks of time within the project, from the first phase, which is the research phase, approaching the finish and development and the second phase which is the processing, scaling up and demonstration.

“We will perform an intermediate as well as a final environmental and economic impact study based on the scaling up approaches; trying to understand what could be the environmental impact in a large-scale production; even if this large-scale production is not in operation, but just on paper,” explains Urbano.

“The only thing that we are missing in the description of the activities so far is the selfsufficiency studies that are also being developed in WP6; so, in parallel with the LCA, the LCC and social lexical analysis, we are going to develop around four resource efficiency audits of the final outcomes.

“Up to now, the mapping and categorising of all the processes is going to be used for both actions. The foreseen action will be to categorise a benchmark for the different processes and to provide the studies and suggested efficiency measures.

“The project is seeking to provide an environmental benefit in the processes and products being developed in terms of a lower use of fossil-based resources,” concludes Urbano. “The target is set on 80-100 per cent less fossilbased resources used and shorter emission and energy consumption up to 30 per cent.

“So, while we are expecting the project to provide these environmental and economic benefits we don’t have enough data at the moment to make these claims. That is what we hope to provide.”

28 Apr 2017

The indispensable role of biomass – EUBCE 2017

Insight, the dissemination work package leader of Rehap is delighted to be presenting the project at the European Biomass Conference and Exhibition – EUBCE 2017 next week. The event, which takes place in Stockholm on June 12-15, is celebrating its 25th year with a full agenda of horizontal topics making it the premier forum for the biomass and bioenergy community, cutting across research, industry and policy.

The EUBCE programme includes 1,004 presentations, with a main focus on the evolving international policy debate about tackling climate change. The event will also provide a platform for the most innovative scientific and technical advances and industry projects. 

One of the key aims of the conference will be to examine how to close the gap between research achievements and industrial implementation, given that research in many areas has advanced considerably over the last decade.

Insight is coordinating a new H2020 project called BIOWAYS, a communications-focused project that will promote the huge potential of bio-based research results and raise public awareness of bio-based products, by developing a variety of communication techniques and through public engagement activities and the development of educational tools and materials.

“EUBCE 2017 will be a fantastic opportunity for projects attending to become involved in BIOWAYS and take advantage of the techniques and platforms being developed that will help them achieve this vital transition from research to industrial implementation,” says Insight MD and BIOWAYS coordinator William Davis.

EUBCE will also tackle the "The Indispensable Role of Biomass" as part of the long-term goal agreed at the Paris climate summit of limiting the increase of global average temperature and bioenergy in the wider bio-economy. Biomass potential, bioenergy policy targets for 2030 and beyond will also be part of this debate. 

Sessions will also address some of the major challenges that the biomass community is facing today such as bioenergy, the production and utilisation of biofuels and different potential biomass feedstocks, including the organic fraction of municipal waste, the recent findings in the field of thermochemical biomass conversion technologies as well as the challenges and opportunities of establishing bioconversion processes for the bio-based economy.

Key approaches for the integration of bioenergy technologies implemented in a flexible manner to provide energy output on demand as well as the latest developments of large-scale industrial plants processing biomass residues and wastes to biofuels and bioenergy will also be presented and discussed. 

The conference will conclude by debating how to "achieve the transition from research to industrial implementation". Important issues will be tackled during the conference, such as biomass production for energy integrated into food and feed farming, integration of bioenergy into a bio-based economy and that of bioenergy with other energy sources. 

Insight will be working with EUBCE to promote the event and will be covering the issues debated throughout. As a leading dissemination consultancy specialising in this sector, Insight is currently working with several EU-funded projects working in this field including BIOWAYS and now Rehap, an new H2020 effort which aims to provide a systemic approach to reduce energy demand and CO2 emissions of processes that transform agroforestry waste into high added-value products.

15 Jan 2017

The Role of Bioeconomy in the Circular Economy – Taking circularity beyond waste

On 12 January 2017, the European Bioeconomy Alliance (EUBA) participated in a meeting in the European Parliament hosted by MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri and MEP Miriam Dalli, Vice-Chairs of the European Parliament Intergroup on “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”.

The Circular Economy Package is one of the currently most debated files at European level. Stimulating Europe’s transition from a linear towards a circular economic model, and closing the loop of product lifecycles are the driving ambitions of the EU institutions. Furthermore, in recent years the bioeconomy has become a policy priority in Europe, as it encompasses the sustainable production and use of renewable resources to produce every day products from food to car parts. The Commission’s Circular Economy proposal must be seen as an opportunity to link the circular and the bio-based economy.

The meeting started with a little quiz to test participant’s knowledge about the bioeconomy and was followed by a presentation on the EUBA on the links with the circular economy and with EU policy objectives. Some concrete examples of circular bio-based products, such as a coffee cup made from coffee waste, were shown to the participants.

Subsequently, Prof. Erik Matthijs (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), chair of the 4th SCAR foresight Expert Group, gave his views on an efficient and sustainable bioeconomy, reiterating the need for a coherent integrated policy framework.

More information can be found on the event's webpage.

01 Dec 2016

A biomass boost to Europe’s bioeconomy

The EU is strongly promoting the growth and development of a sustainable European bioeconomy, of which one of its core components would be the greater uptake of biomass – organic materials to produce chemicals, materials, energy, pharmaceuticals, and many other sustainable and innovative products. This shift to biomass is being underpinned by substantial R&D efforts under FP7 and Horizon 2020.

Increasing the production and mobilisation of biomass can have a number of highly positive benefits for the EU’s economy and wider society. These include contributions to the EU’s fight against climate change, ensuring European (and global) food security, building blocks for new and sustainable raw materials, as well as helping to diversify the EU energy sources. The cultivation and sourcing of biomass will also benefit the EU’s long-term economic growth and would be a key generator of new and highly-skilled jobs, all within the broader context of a flourishing and vibrant bioeconomy.

In particular, the agricultural sector will have a crucial role to play in bringing biomass’s full potential to fruition. Many promising avenues are currently being explored and supported by the European Commission, such as the development of industrial crops able to grow on marginal lands, new methods being pioneered on crop diversification, and the growth of multi-purpose crops (i.e. providing both food but also non-food outputs).

As part of the wider picture, it is planned that these efforts will provide the agricultural sector with the knowledge and expertise needed to support resource-efficient and resilient strategies and solutions for biomass production that allow for increased biomass production but without compromising sustainability targets or local ecosystems.

10 Oct 2016

The Rehap project kicks off in Brussels

Rehap partners gathered for the official launch of the project in Brussels on October 5, 2016, where detailed discussion took place about the work programme that will be developed over the next four years.

The meeting was chaired by Rehap’s coordinator Dr. Aitor Barrio of Spanish research organisation Tecnalia. Each Work Package leader was able to present the plan of action for each work flow and inter-dependencies between partners and their activities were explored.

Project partners also heard from a senior director of the SPIRE initiative, a public-private partnership representing innovative process industries in Europe with a mission to ensure the development of enabling technologies and best practices along all the stages of large-scale existing value chain productions that will contribute to a resource efficient process industry.

By collaborating with SPIRE, Rehap will be able to reach a large database of relevant target stakeholders with information about its work and results. Rehap’s dissemination leader Insight Publishers will manage this collaboration and Rehap will appear on the SPIRE website soon.

Partners also heard from the Rehap Project Officer Mr Carmine Marzano, who spoke about the business processes and project management aspects of the next four years. This was a valuable session, touching on the commercial potential of Rehap solutions and the need for effective exploitation of this potential.

Agricultural and forestry residues are being used in many new and innovative ways and this bio-based chemical industry is now showing greater growth than the petrochemical industry. The development of chemicals and materials from lignocellulosic biomass (plant dry matter) is a particularly important area in terms of research, thanks to the abundance of these resources and because they do not compete with the food chain. However, the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass is not easy and still has little commercial viability.

REHAP aims to strengthen the European bio-economy industry by creating novel materials from agricultural and forestry waste, and considering how they can be used commercially in the green building sector.

The project has five technical objectives to do this:

  • Develop methods to convert natural wastes into sustainable polyurethanes. These can be used to develop insulation foams and adhesives, as well as fire retardant products.
  • Develop new high-performance bio-resins to produce eco-friendly wooden panels.
  • Produce eco-friendly sustainable cement with improved properties.
  • Design and assemble an environmentally sustainable and fire resistant construction solution.
  • Demonstrate the development of eco-friendly products and their sustainability and business potential compared to existing solutions.

- Click here to read how this objective will help the EC meet its targets to create sustainable patterns of consumption and production.