29 Oct 2018

Virtual pyrolysis plant locations in Europe

Availability and quality of biomass resources at four potential sites. An extensive study into the availability and quality of biomass resources in Europe has shown the potential for new lignocellulosic biorefineries to be opened in France, Finland, Romania and the Netherlands. The study was conducted within the Bio4Products Horizon 2020 project, which is testing the feasibility of a fast pyrolysis based biorefinery concept.

‘Virtual’ locations

Lead authors Capax Biobased Development first researched the total availability of selected biomass feedstocks in EU member states, focusing on lignocellulosic by-products and residues. Based on the results of this analysis, and additional factors such as sustainability, logistics and opportunities for industrial symbiosis, four ‘virtual’ plant locations were identified, with high potential for hosting a pyrolysis plant:

  • Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands. Feedstock: Poplar (Short Rotation Coppice and phytoremediated poplar)
  • Marne region, France. Multi-feedstock: Wheat straw, Flax shives, Forestry chips (hardwood), Poplar wood slabs (sawmill residues)
  • South Karelia region, Finland. Feedstock: Forestry residues (softwood)
  • Moldova region, Romania. Feedstock: Sunflower husks

Each of the four locations has sufficient biomass available within a 100 – 150 km radius to sustain a typical 5 tonne/hour commercial plant. The report also includes information on the local biomass supply chains, investigating quality, seasonality and competitive usage of the selected biomass feedstocks.

Pyrolysis based biorefinery

Today there are just two commercial fast pyrolysis plants in Europe; in the Netherlands and Finland. The Dutch EMPYRO plant produces electricity, process steam and fuel oil from woody biomass.

Within the Bio4Products project, BTG Biomass Technology Group are demonstrating how the main product of fast pyrolysis – a bio-oil – can be separated into pyrolytic lignin and sugars.

The lignin and sugar are renewable chemical intermediates that can be used to substitute fossil materials such as bitumen, phenols and creosote, in end-products including roofing materials, resins and wood modification. Industrial partners in the project are reporting positive initial results, and it is hoped that new bio-based products could hit the market soon after the project closes in 2020.

You can download the full report here.

Article sourced from: www.bio4products.eu/study-shows-potential-for-commercial-fast-pyrolysis-plants-in-france-finland-and-romania/

24 Oct 2018

Rehap Workshop highlighted development of bio-based products

Rehap hosted their first workshop on the 27 September at the University of Augsburg to explore the matter of the availability of raw materials to be used in the bioeconomy.

At the end of September, held over the morning of the 27, the Rehap Workshop at the University of Augsburg promoted successful cases for bio-based products and materials, as well as detailed results from the on-going Rehap project.

Four presentations were made from Rehap partners, focused on the techniques and bottlenecks of the technologies and processes they have used in their research.

  • Logistics management – Overview of procuring and forecasting how much biomass is available in Europe.

Prioritised the theoretical, technical and bioeconomic potentials of agroforestry waste in Europe and an interactive database has been developed to show these quantities. A collection/supply network is to be established for the transportation of agroforestry residue into eco-efficient products, taking into consideration economic and environmental parameters.

  • Biochemistry – A look at the specific protocols, extraction and isolation methods of lignin and tannin.

Higher extraction temperature and the addition of Na2CO3 are the most important factors to increase tannin yield, with challenges occurring in the hydrolysis of oligo- or polymeric carbohydrates in raw tannin. Fresh saw mill spruce bark is the most promising source of tannins however it is recommended that raw tannin extract is used instead.

  • Process upscaling – Developing, validating and up-scaling products suitable for application in the targeted final products.

It is not easy to convert the abundance of lignocellulosic biomass for commercial viability. However, the extraction and isolation of tannins, lignin and carbohydrates from forestry waste streams are being tested and scaled up amidst challenges of scaling biomass fractionation processes. The carbohydrates will be used to upscale 2,3-butanediol from fermentation.

  • Sustainability evaluation – Market analysis and impact assessment through a life cycle approach.

Key areas looked at the preliminary LCA and LCC on Rehap processes and materials with aims to be the starting point for processes’ optimisation from an environmental and economic point of view, and to set standards to achieve Rehap’s environmental targets. Results are relevant for the whole industrial sector and should be integrated within decision-making processes.

Project presentations were followed by an informative presentation from an expert from the Technical University of Munich, Professor Dr. Klaus Richter.

  • Cascade use of wood – Concept and case studies

A look at how the forestry sector can fit a circular economy to improve resource efficiency. Cascading case studies were presented. This approach uses the same unit of wood for multiple applications with a gradual reduction in quality and size. Based on the WoodWisdom EraNet case study a number of best practices were established as well as barriers, including health and safety guidelines and the need for a tool to maintain recovered wood quality.

For more information regarding on-going Rehap results, or if you have any questions regarding the workshop, please contact Amelia Brice: amelia@ipl.eu.com

22 Oct 2018

SPIRE 2050 Vision: A new Value Proposition for Horizon Europe and beyond

The extent and the pace of the transitions that our society requires over the next decades are pushing the limits of human knowledge and our ability to deploy innovations. The challenges we face include climate change, growing resource scarcity and urbanisation, and the growing market demand for customised products, services and solutions that also ensure low health and environmental impacts, responsible sourcing and high-quality control.

In all these significant challenges, the European Process Industries and their research partners also see innovation and business opportunities. With this in mind SPIRE believes it is time to boost the transitions and has formulated a new Vison 2050 to guide its work into the EU’s Horizon Europe programme and beyond.

The SPIRE 2050 Vision document can be viewed here.

Value proposition

The SPIRE Vision 2050 is built around a new Value Proposition:

"An integrated and digital European Process Industry, fostering a "well-below 2 degrees" scenario and a fully circular future for our planet and society."

This value proposition expresses SPIRE’s ambitious Vision that the future of Europe lies in strongly enhanced cooperation across sectors and across borders, enabling a meaningful step change in competitiveness and sustainability performance that brings benefits for Europe and all its citizens.

The technological gap to achieve the Vision 2050 remains huge, but SPIRE is ready to contribute its share to bridging the gap through ambitious Research and Innovation initiatives under the forthcoming Horizon Europe programme.

SPIRE’s ambition is to boost investments in Europe generating global competitiveness for EU Process Industries, better jobs and welfare for our citizens. These investments should, through the efforts of SPIRE Industries, deliver the technical solutions enabling the transition of the global economy towards a "well-below 2 degrees" scenario. SPIRE aims to develop game changing technologies towards carbon neutrality and scale them up to reach a step change in Carbon Productivity.

Vision for transformation

In its Vision 2050, SPIRE is looking to transform the way industry and society works. This will require:

  • ‘Connecting the dots’ – investing for smart integration of process industries across Europe. SPIRE’s vision is that the future of Europe lies in a strongly enhanced cooperation across industries – including SMEs – and across borders, enabling a real step change in competitiveness and sustainability performance.
  • ‘Bridging the Climate Technology gap’ – investing in process industries as enablers for a carbon neutral economy, developing and scaling up the required transformative technologies and solutions.
  • ‘Creating Hubs for Circularity’ – investing in process industries, regions and cities to deploy the circular economy at scale. The Process Industries will join forces with regions and cities to establish “Hubs For Circularity” for energy and resources in Europe that are crucial to deploy a circular economy at scale.

Working together, SPIRE believes we can make the transition.

Article sourced from: www.spire2030.eu/news/new/spire-2050-vision

17 Oct 2018

New EU Bioeconomy strategy launched

The European Commission has published a new Bioeconomy Strategy including a set of 14 concrete actions to be launched by 2019.

It represents an update on the 2012 strategy, following a review which took place last year.

New actions defined in the strategy are divided across three areas:

Strengthen and scale-up the bio-based sectors, unlock investments and markets. This includes intensifying research and development through instruments such as the BBI-JU, a €100 million Circular Bioeconomy Investment Platform, and improving standardisation and labelling to grow the market for bio-based products. There is also a specific action point on facilitating the deployment of new sustainable biorefineries.

Deploy local bioeconomies rapidly across Europe. Within this priority, pilot actions are planned in rural, coastal and urban areas, policy support will be made available for member states and attention will be paid to developing education, training and skills needed to implement the growing bioeconomy.

Understand the ecological boundaries of the bioeconomy. This involves enhancing the knowledge base of specific bioeconomy areas including biomass availability and the status of biodiversity, to ensure the bioeconomy operates within safe ecological limits.

The strategy aims to achieve five objectives: 1. ensuring food and nutrition security; 2. managing natural resources sustainably; 3. reducing dependence on non-renewable, unsustainable resources whether sourced domestically or from abroad; 4. mitigating and adapting to climate change, and; 5. strengthening European competitiveness and creating jobs

By developing and demonstrating a new biorefinery concept for producing renewable chemicals and bio-based products, the Bio4Products projects will help deliver on these objectives, in particular 3, 4 and 5.

Access the full Bioeconomy Strategy document here.

04 Sep 2018

Exploring the transformative power of drones in Rwanda

On a windy day high up in the hilly country in Rwanda’s Northern Province, Paul Tuyisingize observes the rapid flight of a drone above his wheat fields with an expression of wonder and delight. “I’m very happy with this project,” he says as the drone’s multi-spectral sensor gathers information about the condition of his crop. “I think it will help me to increase my yields.”

The use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or drones, could have a transformative impact on agriculture. They are already widely used on large landholdings to map farm boundaries, conduct crop inventories and measure biomass development. Now, we are beginning to see how they could help smallholder farmers increase their yields and incomes.

Paul is participating in a research project supported by CTA and AIRINOV, a pioneer in drone-based farming applications, and managed by two Rwandan organisations, Charis Unmanned Aerial Solutions (Charis UAS) and the Regional Research Centre for Integrated Development (RCID). The ultimate aim of the project is to optimise the use of nitrogen fertilisers on wheat.

“When we set up Charis in 2014, I was interested in building and selling drones, and teaching people how to use them,” says Eric Rutayisire, Charis’s chief executive officer, “but I soon realised that people didn’t want to buy drones. They wanted drone services.” Eric began discussing the potential use of drones with agronomist Jules Kazungu, the Director General of RCID. Together they submitted a concept note to Giacomo Rambaldi, senior programme manager for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) at CTA. “Giacomo recommended that we should make this a research project focusing on the nitrogen requirements for wheat, an important cash crop for many smallholders,” says Eric.

In 2017, Charis was one of 14 African organisations to benefit from a CTA-funded training programme in the use of drones, held at AIRINOV’s Paris headquarters. Each trainee returned home with a winged drone equipped with a multispectral sensor and RGB camera, manufactured by Parrot. The companies paid 40% of the equipment, with CTA covering the rest.

Research in the field

“We are very keen to improve technologies that advance precision agriculture, and I believe that the use of drones is going to do that,” explains Jules Kazungu, whose company was responsible for gathering data on the ground. The project looked at the performance of wheat at three farms at different altitudes. At each farm, 24 micro-plots received six different fertiliser treatments. There were also control plots which received no treatment.

The Parrot drone was used to take aerial images five times during the growing cycle. On each occasion, Jules and his team took samples from the micro-plots and sent them for analysis at the laboratories of the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB). Charis then sent the imagery gathered by the drone to AIRINOV, together with the data from the soil samples. AIRINOV’s task – still in progress at the time of going to press – is to calibrate an algorithm for wheat based on correlations between the reflectance of the crop and dry matter and nitrogen content. The algorithm will enable extension agencies to use imagery taken from drones to assess the nutritional status of wheat and its nitrogen fertiliser requirements, and advice farmers how much fertilizer to apply and where.

Although the farmers involved in the pilot project didn’t directly benefit from the data collection, they were introduced to new methods of production. “In the past I never used fertilisers with wheat,” says Paul Tuyisingize. “I planted wheat after potatoes and relied on the fertility left over after the potato harvest.” And like most farmers, he used to broadcast his seeds, rather than sow them in straight lines. The project encouraged the farmers to sow in straight lines and apply fertilisers in prescribed quantities. All were anticipating that their yields would be 50% higher than in previous years.

The Rwandan government recognises that the agricultural sector could benefit from mechanisation, especially when large numbers of farmers plant the same crop in contiguous areas. “The same applies to the use of drones,” says CTA’s Giacomo Rambaldi. “It doesn’t make sense to provide services to individual smallholder farmers, but it does if they come together as a group, such as a cooperative.”

Giacomo is keen to build on the achievements of the pilot project by establishing a larger research programme which will look at the costs and benefits of using drone services to provide advice to smallholder farmers. “For example, if we can establish that advice leads to an increase in yields worth an extra US$50 per ha, and the advice costs farmers US$8, that means that the farmer will make an extra US$42 per ha, less the additional inputs he or she may have to use,” he says. The use of drones, in other words, could significantly improve farm productivity and household incomes for smallholder farmers.

Article sourced from: www.cta.int/en/article/exploring-the-transformative-power-of-drones-in-rwanda-sid02203f45b-9846-4ecd-ba59-3d8619d9c3e4

29 Aug 2018

Manufacturing materials and methods for greener, more customisable and higher quality products

Researchers are developing a novel process for producing cellulose-based electrical insulation components. This method will reduce operating costs and labour time in manufacturing.

Rapid infrastructure growth, increased urbanisation, and the expansion of electric power distribution and transmission networks have fuelled the demand for electrical insulation materials. Cellulose, a renewable, non-toxic and abundant natural material, has a wide range of applications, from paper to textile. It’s also commonly used in electrical insulation components such as power distribution transformers. However, the technologies involved in the manufacturing of these products are labour intensive and slow.

Enter NOVUM, an EU-funded project that aims to make significant improvements in the way in which cellulose is produced. It’s an industry-driven initiative that will develop and demonstrate a compact and feasible pilot line concept based on novel processing technologies for rapid, design-driven production of cellulose-based electrical insulation components. The project also seeks to manufacture different types of electrical insulation components that meet the technical product requirements in the new pilot line.

The researchers say power transformer units using such materials usually have a very specific and individual design, which also influences the design of the insulation components. They note that for each insulation component, an individual metal mould has to be fabricated. This results in hundreds or even thousands of moulds being organised and stored. This process leads to significant material waste.

That’s why, they argue, there’s a need to improve the manufacturing process of electrical insulation components, in terms of energy consumption, waste generation, duration and automation. In addition, it would be beneficial if the dependency of the process on moulds, especially metal moulds, could be reduced.

The research team hopes to revolutionise the way in which power transformers are designed and produced, and lead to the transition from current manual production to automated production lines. As it explains in a recent press release, this will result in increased resource efficiency, “including a 40 % reduction in labour time and a 60 % reduction in waste generation, 20 % lower energy consumption and a 40 % decrease in operating costs.”

In the same press release, NOVUM (Pilot line based on novel manufacturing technologies for cellulose-based electrical insulation components) notes its focus on 3D printing of cellulose-based materials with thermoplastic features and foam forming and thermoforming of cellulose fibres. It says these technologies will be developed in parallel with each other, together with the cellulose materials, to reach an optimal combination for the pilot line concept. “Besides technical feasibility, the decision on the pilot line concept will be based on the end use requirements as well as on economic, social and environmental impacts, including circular economy considerations.”

According to the team, the concept will be based on multipliable technologies, which they hope will enable their transition and wide adoption for cellulose-based materials across the process industry and applications in other industrial areas.

For more information, please see:

NOVUM project webiste

22 Aug 2018

Rehap hosts first workshop in Augsburg

Rehap is excited to announce that on the 27 September 2018 it will be running the project’s first workshop at the University of Augsburg, Germany focusing on Rehap’s research in helping strengthen the bioeconomy.

Rehap is an EU-funded project aiming to create new value-added products and new protocols and extraction methods for lignin and tannin from agricultural and forestry waste that can be used to make eco-friendly resins for wood and bio-based chemicals for greener cement.

The project has been focusing on lignin, tannin and cellulose, essential for the design of biopolymers, which are first extracted before they are transformed via pioneering new processes to create artificial chemicals that are commonly used in the construction industry, normally derived from fossil fuels.

Rehap’s dissemination partners, Insight Publishers will be helping to organise and run this stimulating and informative event which will attract a mix of project partners, industry experts, policy makers, researchers and other projects in the bioeconomy sector.

Over one morning, just outside the bustling city of Munich, through various short presentations, panel discussions and interactive debates, Rehap’s workshop will focus sessions on the following preliminary topics:

  • Overview of the Rehap project
  • Logistics management: Procuring and forecasting how much biomass is available in Europe
  • Biochemistry: Take a look at the specific protocols and extraction methods for lignin and tannin
  • Process upscaling and Life Cycle Analysis
  • Talks from invited guest speakers with open discussions

The University of Augsburg’s Resource Lab are Rehap project-partners and head the project work package, ‘Waste Management’. Currently working on the follow tasks: state-of-the-art regarding waste management; forecasting of future waste arisings; location and transport planning; and roadmaps for waste management integration, the university is excited to welcome those who wish to learn, add-value or share in both the work of Rehap and that of the extended biomass field.

This will be a fantastic opportunity to hear about the ground-breaking developments the project has completed or currently working on, from those fronting the research.

The full programme, additional speakers and special guests will be released shortly.

The workshop will run from 9am – 2pm, including coffee break and lunch, providing ample opportunity to network with likeminded people.

If you are interested in attending or require more details, please contact Aitor Barrio at: aitor.barrio@tecnalia.com

Find out more about the project at www.rehap.eu

13 Aug 2018

How the global heatwave is harming agriculture today and creating problems for the bio-economy tomorrow

“We already have trouble feeding the world and this additional impact on crop yields will impact the world’s poorest…”

Few of you will have escaped the heatwave that seems to have enveloped most of the northern hemisphere. Soaring temperatures exceeding 46°C have been recorded in Alvega, Portugal, while seventeen of eighteen of the countries regions experienced temperatures above 45°C. This follows recent headlines reporting wildfires in California and Greece while 40°C heatwaves have caused deaths in Japan. Events like these, once considered freakish in nature are now becoming increasingly frequent.

Rising temperatures are characteristic of the changing global climate and the warnings of the implications that this change could have on production and agriculture are no longer just hypothesis by a reality for many. Changes to regional and global temperature will continue to have damaging effects on agricultural systems at both national and global levels and by extension the bio-based economy. The evolution of weather patterns once considered rare to common only serves to highlight a need for agricultural BAU (Business-As-Usual) models to adapt or face the consequences of not doing so.

Case study: USA’s Central High Plains:

Professor Robert Aiken a research crop scientist from the K-State Northwest Research-Extension Centre in January of this year outlined the agricultural issues that could surface in the United States if temperatures continue to rise. He focuses on the U.S Central High Plains which run from west-central Texas through west-central Oklahoma, central Kansas, and south-central Nebraska.

He predicts that temperatures will continue to increase in the long-term, caused by increases in CO2 and other greenhouse emissions that continue to build up in the atmosphere. By the middle of the 21st century, temperatures in the Southern Plains will likely be 2.2°C to 3.3°C higher than the 20th century average. This will result in much milder winters with freezing rain instead of snow and hotter summers. Aiken suggests that rainfall predictions are much less certain, but extreme rainfall is expected to continue to become more intense and frequent.

The results of this could be damning for U.S. crop production. Yield potentials would diminish rapidly, triggered by higher night temperatures, which would weaken photo-protection systems in plant life (bio-chemical process that helps organisms cope with molecular damage caused by sunlight) and induce more persistent heat stress.

One positive to increasing temperatures, is that warmer climate could extend the cultivation period for crops. The remarkable tendencies of place life to adapt to extreme climate changes may be the saviour of crop industries in the short term due to the durability of plant metabolic processes. Yet, the positives to extended exposure to sunlight end there as long periods of prolonged heat will likely impair plant productivity.

The fact remains that plant metabolisms are temperature sensitive. Key crops such as winter wheat, rice and maize photosynthesise best at temperatures between 25°C and 30°C. Daily temperatures exceeding this range are likely to slow crop production and damage both the quality and quantity of crop yields.

The consequences according to the report will be sever. Producers will be affected by increases in crop water requirements, the degradation of soil, intensive rainfall events and potential release of large-scale methane emission through thawing permafrost (ground, including rock or soil, at or below the freezing point of water 0°C for two or more years).

Chronic high temperatures will add to the evaporative demand of crop systems. This will lead to a rise in the water requirement for crop growth. Thus, agricultural water-systems will be working at an increased rate, an astounding prospect given the industry today is already the single largest user of freshwater resources, using a global average of 70% of all surface water supplies. These factors will make agriculture in the future progressively more challenging.

A global impact

This research in the US, is equally relevant in the rest of the Western world where rising temperatures will also bring huge agricultural change.

To put this in perspective, 60% of the world’s population rely on wheat, rice and maize for their total calorific intake. This could be hugely damaging given the production distribution of staples like these. For instance, rice production and consumption are highly localised. In a recent study looking at food consumption, Asia alone accounts for 92% of world rice production. In Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, 80% of food consumption derives from rice alone. The same applies to Sub-Saharan Africa and the consumption of Maize, where 90kg to 180kg of the product is consumed per person annually.

"We're most concerned about the sharply reduced yields," said Peter de Menocal, Dean of Science at Columbia University and director of the Center for Climate and Life. "We already have trouble feeding the world and this additional impact on crop yields will impact the world's poorest and amplify the rich/poor divide that already exists."

It is not only staple supply-chains that will be affected, with pressure put on production, iconic exports such as Champagne, Bordeaux wines and Java coffee will be in increasingly short supply. Decreases in crop supply will see surges in demand and prices will rise. The diminishing potential of crop production partnered with an inevitable increase in global population, expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 according to the UN/DESA could have disastrous consequences for people around the world.

The UK response

This summer, the United Kingdom is experiencing these symptoms of climate change with an almost unprecedented period of very hot weather. So far, daily temperatures are averaging 20.9C, 0.1C below the hottest summer currently on record (1976). It has also been the driest start to a summer on modern record, with only 47mm of rain having fallen between the 1st June and the 16th July.

Agriculturally, there has been significant disruption. Already farmers are fearing disastrous crop yields due the severe lack of rainfall. Decreased surface water levels have left farms in Derbyshire without water. This does not only offer problems for crop production but also for the well-being of livestock. The significant lack of grass growth in the fields has forced livestock farmers to give winter feedstocks such as hay and silage to animals, or send them for slaughter. It is reported that in some areas, slaughterhouses are struggling to keep with demand as more and more farmers do not have to resources to keep cattle and sheep healthy.

Hot and dry conditions have exposed the UK’s unpreparedness to changes in weather patterns. Derbyshire water supplier Severn Trent have struggled to successfully distribute water tankers to farms, raising concerns around animal welfare.

This has affected the wholesale price of crops. According to the data group Mintec, prices of cauliflowers are up 81%, onions by 55% and carrots by 49% in the four weeks previous to July 18, compared to the same period last year.

Nick Rau, Friends of the Earth farming campaigner, speaking to the Guardian -  “Food production is clearly essential, but so are our wildlife-rich rivers. These mustn’t be sucked dry to help prop up unsustainable farming methods. Sustainable farming systems that work with nature are more resilient to extreme weather conditions. Measures such as building up soil carbon will improve soil resilience and help fight climate change.

How does agriculture adapt?

Evidence suggests that the continuance of agricultural processes as they are will see production become increasingly difficult to maintain. Obviously, there is a broader picture within which companies and individuals must turn towards more sustainable practises. But, with our focus on agriculture today, producers must play a significant part in providing a viable alternative to present farming methods.

In the UK, the National Farmers Union (NFU) hosted an agricultural drought summit on 1st August which included representatives from Defra, the Environment Agency (EA), Natural England, the RPA and other farming organisations. The summit aimed to identify both short and medium-term solutions to the challenges currently facing farmers. Subjects tackled included irrigation, water shortage, heat stress on livestock and crop loss. While, agriculture features heavily in the governments Clean Growth Strategyupdated in April 2018.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has a clear vision to find a solution to the current climatic conundrum. They feel the solution can be found through the promotion of sustainable practices in various countries. According to the FAO, this would be achievable through the process of agroecology. This entails a series of social and environmental measures that aspire to the creation of a sustainable agricultural system that optimises and stabilises crop yields. Methods would be adaptable, dependent on the demands of a climate. Through this, the supply chain and methods employed could be determined efficiently by policy makers and implemented sustainable by agricultural industries.

By Tom Joslin, Bio-Based World News

Article by: www.biobasedworldnews.com/how-the-global-heatwave-is-harming-agriculture-and-creating-problems-for-the-bio-economy

08 Aug 2018

LignoValue Pilot launched: Flanders to develop pilot line of bio-aromatics from lignin/wood

The EFRO LignoValue Pilot project, a € 4.3 million joint effort between Biorizon co-initiator VITO and a number of partners, has set the bar high: the realisation, by Q1 2021, of a functioning pilot line in Flanders for the production of bio-aromatics from lignin/wood.

The pilot is intended to meet the needs of the various companies with a stated interest in innovative molecules and willingness to carry out application testing.
The technology for the conversion of wood and lignin into biobased aromatics and subsequent fractionation into useful fractions of lignin-based monomers, dimers and oligomers has already been proven at lab scale. Now, the next step is to validate the conversion and fractionation technologies developed technology at scale in a relevant environment (TRL 5-6).

The new LignoValue Pilot will have a capacity of ± 200 kg/day. The aim is to construct the pilot line with a flexible design, one that will allow different depolymerization processes to be demonstrated in order to produce the desired bio-aromatic fractions for company-targeted applications/product development. The pilot line will be mobile, and hence able to be operated locally on site at interested companies.

The pilot line is the next step towards the ultimate goal of building and operating a demo plant in Flanders for the conversion of wood/lignin to biobased functionalized aromatics.
VITO is involved in a large number of projects involving the conversion of lignin and wood to bio-aromatics, among which the Catalisti projects ‘MAIA’ and ‘ARBOREF’, the Interreg project ‘BIO-HArT’, and the BBI projects ‘SmartLi’ and ‘LigniOx’.

Jan Van Havenbergh, managing director Catalisti, is very pleased with this new project: “Bringing innovations to higher Technology Readiness Levels is of the utmost importance for the Flemish chemical industry to bridge the gap between development and implementation to allow an economic valorisation in Flanders (and abroad). The pilot line on bio-aromatics that VITO and its partners Jacobs Belgium and VMH will construct in the recently approved EFRO project will allow end users to obtain functionalised biomolecules with an aromatic structure for developing their new applications and products.”

The development of the pilot facility in the LignoValue Pilot project was approved by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The total budget of the project is € 4.3 Mio, with cofinancing from ERDF, the province of Antwerp and the Flemish Department of Economy, Science and Innovation. VITO will invest around two million euros. The project is also actively supported by Catalisti, the Flemish spearhead cluster for chemistry and plastics, as it perfectly fits in its strategic research program on bioaromatics.

The project is part of the Biorizon collaboration, in which VITO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) are, are cooperating with partners to develop technologies for extracting aromatics from vegetable residuals. This reduces dependence on petroleum and leads to reduced CO2 emissions. By using waste streams as a raw material, Biorizon is contributing to the transition to a circular economy and offering the chemical industry and the supplying industry a prospect that is both profitable and sustainable.

Article sourced from: www.bioplasticsmagazine.com/en/news/meldungen/2018-07-30LignoValue-Pilot-launched--Flanders-to-develop-pilot-line-of-bio-aromatics-from-lignin-wood.php

30 Jul 2018

Beets and carrots could lead to stronger and greener buildings

According to engineers, root vegetables aren’t only good for the body. Their fibres could also help make concrete mixtures stronger and more eco-friendly.

Construction projects have a significant impact on our environment. To combat this, stakeholders in the academic and industrial sectors have been looking for ways to make the industry more environment friendly. The EU-funded project B-SMART will be contributing to these efforts by focusing on concrete and the more culpable of its ingredients: cement.

Led by Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, the project will be investigating how nanoplatelets extracted from the fibres of root vegetables can make concrete mixtures more robust and more environment friendly. So far, initial tests have shown that adding nanoplatelets from sugar beet or carrot to these mixtures greatly enhances the mechanical properties of concrete.

According to lead researcher Prof. Mohamed Saafi from Lancaster University, the novel cement nanocomposites developed as part of this project “are made by combining ordinary Portland cement with nano platelets extracted from waste root vegetables taken from the food industry.”

“The composites are not only superior to current cement products in terms of mechanical and microstructure properties but also use smaller amounts of cement,” Prof. Saafi said in the news item posted on the University website. “This significantly reduces both the energy consumption and CO2 emissions associated with cement manufacturing.”

A closer look at the environmental impact of concrete

The concrete industry is one of the biggest producers of CO2. The ingredient largely responsible for this is ordinary Portland cement, one of the main components of concrete. The volume of CO2 emitted during concrete production is directly proportional to the amount of cement used in the concrete mixture. Currently, for every tonne of cement made, about 900 kg of CO2 are emitted, corresponding to close to 90 % of the emissions associated with the average concrete mix.

The carbon-intensive cement production process is responsible for 8 % of total CO2 emissions worldwide. Given recent trends, cement production is expected to double in the next 30 years.

How root vegetables help

Standard concrete is made with water, aggregate (gravel, rock or sand), and Portland cement. Cement is the binding agent that hardens and strengthens the concrete. But when the nanosized platelets of root vegetables are added to the standard concrete mix, the amount of calcium silicate hydrate – the product responsible for making concrete strong – is increased.

The researchers found that adding the nanoplatelets made the concrete so much stronger that 40 kg less Portland cement was needed per cubic metre of concrete. This decrease corresponds to 40 kg less CO2 for the same volume of concrete. A stronger root vegetable mixture consequently means that less concrete would need to be used in buildings, resulting in significant environmental benefits.

The research team’s vegetable-enhanced concretes were also found to perform better than other cement additives available on the market such as graphene and carbon nanotubes. Additionally, they also proved to be much cheaper to produce. Other advantages included a denser microstructure, which helps to prevent corrosion and makes the materials longer lasting.

B-SMART (Biomaterials derived from food waste as a green route for the design of eco-friendly, smart and high performance cementitious composites for the next generation multifunctional built infrastructure) will also be investigating the possibility of reinforcing existing concrete structures with very thin sheets made from vegetable nanoplatelets.

For more information, please see:
CORDIS project web page

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