04 Jun 2018

How the ‘Model-T Ford of the bio-refining industry’ is offering new rewards from waste streams

“By converting 100 per cent of the biomass’s constituents, it becomes economically feasible to process at scales previously thought impossible…”

Virtually every person, organisation, and human activity in the world creates some type of waste. And its generation in most cases represents a hugely inefficient use of materials. Just think for a minute of some of them; black liquor created during industrial pulp & paper manufacturing, the corn stover left after harvest on the field, or the nut shells piling up in food factories.

But now, a company based just north of Atlanta, Georgia – Attis Innovations – is changing perceptions of what waste means, and has some major milestones approaching in 2018. Today we speak exclusively to Jeff Cosman their CEO and Helen Petersen about their approach, unique products, and the immense revenue potential their technology brings to the growing bio-economy.

We open up by asking Jeff to give us an introduction into the business: “On Earth, the most concentrated source of carbon in a plant is lignin but it’s considered a low-value by-product in production of paper, pulp and cellulosic ethanol and as such is often burned for energy production. For us at Attia, rather than lignin being used as an under-valued source of energy, we believe it has a much higher value when deployed as a renewable substitute for carbon in traditional petroleum-based products.”

Jeff goes on to say, “Our primary focus is creating new revenue streams from biomass, where its various constituents can be elegantly extracted and converted into a multitude of bio-based products for use in plastics, fuels, adhesives and many more. We believe that by capitalising on these new markets, existing pulp and paper and cellulosic ethanol facilities can generate between 35% and 100% more revenue per ton of biomass processed.”

So that presents the question, why hasn’t lignin been more widely extracted in the past? It has been attempted. However, methods to date have been known to damage the structure of the lignin molecules and thus diminish its usefulness.

This is where Attis’ proprietary technology shines. By employing a process that requires significantly less capital than traditional recovery methods while also delicately extracting and purifying the lignin, Attis can preserve the product’s natural properties at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, during this process, functional additives can be introduced to increase the performance of the lignin in a myriad of applications. Attis capitalises on lignin’s inherent properties and offers companies and even entire industries a cost-effective strategy for introducing bio-based content into their product portfolios.

Helen Petersen tells us more about the flexibility of their technology; “Unlike pulp and paper manufacturers or cellulosic ethanol producers, we are not solely reliant on cellulose content in our feedstock, and thus we can focus on various types of non-traditional biomass, opening the door for many agricultural by-products such as crop residuals, bark, sawdust, nut shells and many more.”

This is another point of differentiation with Attis’ technology, not only can it process nearly any form of biomass, but it is also simple enough to be economically scaled-down to a size that fits unique feedstock opportunities. Most biomass processing facilities require massive economies of scale and feedstock inventory to justify their investment. Companies can often struggle to process at a small scale, thus blocking out potential partners and limiting their geographic scope. Not so with Attis, as their technology is uniquely scalable to allow cost-effective processing at flow rates ranging from 200 up to 2,000 ton per day.

Helen further explains, “By converting 100 per cent of the biomass’s constituents, it becomes economically feasible to process at scales previously thought impossible. This creates the potential to boost economic growth and jobs in rural areas and propagate an inclusive bio-economy.”

Since its founding in May 2017 Attis Innovations has made rapid progress in commercialising its lignin extraction process and developing a portfolio of bio-based materials. This started with Attis’ recent announcement of the exclusive license to American Science and Technology’s (AST) biomass processing facility and associated intellectual property. AST’s processing facility allows for the accelerated evaluation of biomass feedstock opportunities as well finished product validation. In addition, the AST facility and laboratory can be utilised publicly for contract R&D services related to biomass processing and characterisation.

In conjunction with Attis’ vision to commercialise AST’s biomass processing technology, the company has made great strides in the development of bio-based materials from its unique, melt flowable lignin. February saw them announce the successful completion of performance testing for their lignin-based resin products with the results demonstrating outstanding mechanical and processing characteristics compared to virgin plastics materials. Attis was able to blend its melt-flowable lignin at 15-25 per cent inclusion rates in both polypropylene and polyethylene materials while retaining 100 per cent of the tensile modulus, 100 per cent of the impact strength, and over 90 per cent of the tensile strength.

These impressive results come as part of the company’s rapid development curve, and this offering could be used across a host of plastics applications, including automotive components, agricultural products, building and construction and other durable goods.

Read the complete article here.

(Article by: www.biobasedworldnews.com/how-the-model-t-ford-of-the-bio-refining-industry-is-offering-new-rewards-from-waste-streams)

29 May 2018

Bio-based houses are seducing Latin America

The use of natural materials is growing rapidly in Argentina and other South American countries. Technical progress and policy implementation seem to go hand in hand

The green building phenomenon in Latin America has taken off. Bio-based aggregates have started penetrating the construction sector’s market, and the development of eco-friendly renewable products has increased the use of bio-based polymers in the construction industry, as a recent study shows.

South America is one of the emerging markets where a major demand in natural materials for buildings is expected in the next years. People today are indeed increasingly persuaded that they can safely get the same quality level as traditional products.

The policy implementation in the region following suit. Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru have carried out different measures ranging from relevant tax cuts to soft loans for sustainable construction.

Although in Argentina this is still a new phenomenon, the situation and legislation are quickly changing. “In my country public interest and the market are also growing because young people are getting involved and interested in this topic,” says Juan Manuel Vazquez, an Argentinian agricultural engineer, who started using bio-based material for construction 15 years ago.

“I was working in an agronomic olive oil industry and I found that olive oil can lose quality in storage, in particular in countries with extreme climates. That was also when I first heard about straw bale warehouses, used for storing bulk food because of their insulation properties,” he told youris.com.

He later became co-founder of Henia Carbono Negativo, a company that develops pre-assembled panels of straw bales, using 100% biological material for dry construction, with high thermo acoustic, mechanical and fireproof performances. It was in La Cumbre, Córdoba, that they built their first family house of 250 m2.

“We are now working to conquer the mass market, it will take time but not that much,” affirms the expert with conviction. “I recognise that my method may be a niche one, but I think that economic paradigms are changing. People are willing to pay a little more for green materials because it’s a matter of health and well-being.’

An eco-friendly house in Argentina would cost only 10% more than a traditional one, on the basis of Manuel Vazquez’s estimations. He also says that thermal insulation is seven times greater than that produced by a double hollow brick wall.

It is also resistant to fire and earthquakes. The straw used is kept compact, and without moisture, and it does not attract insects of any kind. High insulation potential, no pollution, and the fight against climate change are just some of the reasons which motivate him.

Henia’s experience is in line with ISOBIO, a EU project that proposes a strategy to mainstream bio-based construction materials. This is another source of inspiration for Manuel Vazquez. According to the European researchers, bio-based construction materials are in fact capable of achieving a 50% reduction in embodied energy and CO2 emissions, with 20% better insulation properties compared to conventional materials such as bricks, cement and beams in walls and roofs.

There are several signs of policy changes to promote energy efficiency in Argentina’s buildings. For example, the city of Rosario has implemented a certification, carried out in 500 homes, which enabled household performance and energy-saving potential to be identified.

Specialist in bio construction Maria Loreto Retamales lives in a bio-based house in Valparaiso, in Chile, but her first eco-friendly house was in Argentina. “Ten years ago, I decided with my family to live in harmony with nature,” she explains. “I read about the architect Nader Khalili, his Cal Earth Foundation (California Institute of Earth Architecture), and his research and work with soil and sack.”

She studied his technique called “SuperAdobe”, a form of earth bag architecture, and now she trains other people on it as well. “In less than a year, I even gave workshops to architects and engineers in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia,” she tells us.

Maria Loreto has no doubt: “Living in a natural building has big advantages such as a more stable temperature and humidity. People don’t get ill so much. Moreover, earth isolates from the sun’s radiation and electromagnetic waves.”

Argentina has one of the most recognised bio constructors in the world, Jorge Belanko, specialised in earth buildings. Of course, this technique still remains quite unusual, but in the last 10 years Maria Loreto has seen hundreds of innovative projects developing.

Finally, one of the architectural symbols of the growing movement of natural builders in the country, is Tol-Haru, la Nave Tierra del Fin del Mundo, the first self-sufficient house in Latin America. It was built in Ushuaia, the closest city to Antarctica in 2014, using recycled materials. Wind and solar energy provide heating and cooling. The shelter also reuses rainwater and it even recycles waste.

Its construction has been promoted by the actors Mariano Torre and his wife, Elena Roger, members of the NAT Foundation (Nature Applied to Technology). The visionary architect Michael Reynolds helped them through the construction process.

(Article by: www.allthings.bio/bio-based-houses-seducing-latin-america/)

24 May 2018

Press Release: The Rehap project uncovers agroforestry residue potential in Europe as the EIB pledges a €1bn investment in the bio-economy

The European Investment Bank recently announced the launch of a new financing initiative to pump investment close to 1bn into the agriculture and bioeconomy sector. Following the announcement of this investment, the ambitious Rehap project has recently published a ground-breaking report that accurately calculates the vast potential of available waste from agricultural and forestry in Europe that can be used specifically for the bioeconomy.

The investment from the European Investment Bank (EIB) has been seen as a valuable lifeline to those sectors encompassing the bio-economy. The initiative also provides a much-needed boost in confidence for and recognition of the future growth in Europe’s rural economy, which supplies much of the material for the development of biomass for bio-materials

This investment is expected to strengthen the competitiveness of European companies active in the bio-economy and agriculture by improving their long-term success in developing and marketing higher added-value products and services.

Rehap is an EU-funded project whose recent studies have come at an ideal time, adding more fuel to the fire that is Europe’s rural economy. With little or no research available for the determination of the potential of agroforestry waste in the EU-28, Rehap partners the University of Augsburg aimed to forecast the amount of residue that can be technically, legally and sustainably removed from the field or forest for use in bio-economy advances, and it has made some ground-breaking findings:

  • Agriculture waste: Wheat straw had the highest bio-economical potential with a high lignocellulose feedstock content of approximately 49 Mt out of 96 Mt of total straw available. Maize stover and barley straw were also in significant quantities. Currently, less than eight per cent of the theoretical potential of straw is recovered from fields. The region “Bassin Parisien” is the most promising region for gathering this agriculture residue across the EU-28 countries at 6848t.
  • Forestry waste: Bark from conifers, in particular pine and spruce, is the most promising source for lignocellulose feedstock and is in high availability, accumulating in large amounts in sawmills and pulp mills. The best location for highest yield was found in the regions of Manner-Suomi, Finland at 2111t and Södra-Sverige, Sweden at 1343t.

The project has discovered where in Europe this waste is prevalent and how much of these off-cuttings from forestry and agriculture is actually waste and can be used for bio-based materials and energy without impacting negatively on the ecosystem. This research is vital in helping to meet the challenge raised by the severe ecological and ethical concerns of using too much waste or misusing biomass. When using biomass that competes with food production, crop cultivation, animal bedding and other industrial-scale production, for example, will put a strain on the environment and negatively affect humans, animals and plants. With its results, Rehap has shown that the abundant supply of agroforestry waste goes hand-in-hand with the EIB investment, which is available for new businesses in the bio-economy and agricultural sectors to start using and innovating new products and techniques.

Rehap is an already well-established EU-funded project, championing the bio-economy and agriculture research in the EU. The project aims to create new products 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.

The recent Rehap paper, “Assessment of agroforestry residue potentials for the bioeconomy in the European Union” published in the Journal of Cleaner Production reviews in detail the potential of agroforestry residues. This new data highlights the high stability and reliability of these residues in the EU and justifies the strength of these results for a sustainable European bio-economy. Discovering this ample supply of agroforestry waste offers an even greater opportunity to those looking to invest in the sector to drastically change Europe’s rural economy, and the planet for the better.

22 May 2018

EUBCE 2018 Press Release Closing – Friday, 18th May 2018

The 26th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition (EUBCE 2018) ended on 17th June and confirmed once more its role of world leading platform for biomass science and industry. The event attracted 1375 participants from 65 countries, featured 811 presentations representing the work of more than 3000 authors and co-authors and fulfilled over 156 matchmaking requests. In addition to the scientific content, the EUBCE included an international Exhibition gathering companies from 14 countries and a technical tour to Nature Energy’s NGF Holsted Biogas Plant.

This year EUBCE also had a remarkable social media coverage, with over 136,900 twitter impressions throughout the week.

Sustainable bioenergy is essential to achieve a 2 degrees scenario but it is growing too slow, Adam Brown, IEA, Senior Energy Analyst, said speaking at the closing session. We have a portfolio of technologies that work and there is no shortage of biomass as feedstock at least for now, so biomass feedstock is not a barrier to progress, he added. Policy is key to deployment, now we have an up-to-date experience that should allow us to identify the best practice in policy making based on international experience. We need more engagement with development agencies and international funding institutions to build capacity and to internationalise the use of sustainable bioenergy.

Good communication is essential, but it should be simple and understandable by everybody, said Nicolae Scarlat, Technical Programme Chairman, European Commission, Directorate for Energy, Transport and Climate. One important message that has recurred many times in this conference is that many technologies for advanced biofuels and bioenergy are ready, and many plants have reached technological maturity […]. Despite this, emissions from the transport sector are rising, so we need all sustainable solutions, there is no competition but rather complementarity between bioenergy and other options to decarbonise the energy sector, he added. We also saw several times in the conference the evidence of Denmark as a world leader in bioenergy and its ambitions in biogas production, with its target to have 35% of green gas in the natural gas grid by 2035, although the current level of 10% is also remarkable.

It has been great to see old friends and to make new ones at this conference, this event showed that biomass and bioenergy research is vibrant, that there are challenges such as sustainability but also a lot of activity, said Michael Persson, Conference General Chairman, Danish Bioenergy Association, Head of Secretariat.He also announced that the next edition of EUBCE will be held in Portugal, an emerging market for bioenergy. As explained by Mario Guedes, Director General of Energy and Geology, DGEG, Portugal, during the opening ceremony, this country recently approved a national strategy for the promotion of biorefineries, highlighting the importance of biorefineries as new industrial value chains to generate qualified jobs and to enhance social cohesion, in particular in the less developed regions.

(Article by: http://www.eubce.com/)

17 May 2018

EUBCE 2018 – Press Release Wednesday, 16th May 2018

The 26th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition started on Monday 14th May in Copenhagen with an inspiring opening session featuring ambitious industrial initiatives, policy updates and a lively panel discussion on the vital role of biomass for climate protection and sustainable development.

Attendance at this 26th edition confirmed the importance of this event for stakeholders of the biomass sector: more than 800 plenary, oral and visual presentations74 conference sessions8 industry oriented sessions, and moreover parallel events, workshops and networking events. In addition to the scientific content, the EUBCE includes an international Exhibition gathering companies from 14 countries.

The conference is organized with the scientific support of the European Commission Joint Research Centre. “We need to get the best out of biomass, we need to prioritize the most effective bioenergy pathways that deliver robust GHG reductions that maximise our contributions to the climate and energy goals”, said Piotr Szymanski, Director of Energy, Transport and Climate of the EC Joint Research Centre, opening the first session.

“Bioenergy is an indispensable part of the future energy supply in the short-term and the long-term. EUBCE is a perfect setting for discussing research and technological development as well as the sustainability of bioenergy, in order to maximize its contribution to mitigate climate change”, said Michael Persson, Head of Secretariat, Danish Bioenergy Association, this year’s Conference General Chairman. “The EUBCE has a very important role for biomass”, continues Persson, “it is a fundamental platform to disseminate knowledge in this sector among science, business and the political world. I am very happy that this event takes place in Denmark”.

Dorte Nøhr Andersen, Deputy Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate, Denmark, remarked that the country has a strategy to become independent from fossil fuels by 2050 and that biomass will be an important resource to achieve this. Today 43% of the Danish electricity production comes from wind, while bioenergy accounts for two thirds of the final supply of renewable energy.

Kyriakos Maniatis, policy officer EC DG Energy, presented the status of the revised Renewable Energy Directive, which will provide a clear roadmap for the future development of the EU bioenergy sector. He gave an overview of the positions of the Commission, the Parliament, and the Council in the final months of negotiation, which could be finalized by the end of 2018.

Among the representatives of the industrial world, Jennifer Holmgren, Chief Executive Officer of LanzaTech, presented the company’s current projects in Europe and worldwide, based on the recycling of carbon from industrial waste gases. “It is time to treat carbon as an opportunity not a liability, and carbon-smart technologies exist today that can do just that”, she said. “We need to act and we need to collaborate, any sustainable solution works. We need to move quickly enough and not be afraid to fail. Our Steelanol project is a great example of how Europe is utilizing public-private partnerships, to lead the transition to a low-carbon future while creating jobs and economic growth.”

“The sustainability challenge of our time requires bioenergy as a necessary component to achieve a decarbonised transport system”, Urban Wästljung, of Scania CV AB, said “We need to reduce emission by 50% every decade from now to 2050, we know how it can be done and we are sure this can be done”. The approach of Scania to reduce carbon emissions from heavy duty transports is based on increasing energy efficiency, using alternative fuels and electrification, but also on developing smart and safe transport.

Claus Sauter, CEO of Verbio, also introduced the vision and plan for sustainable long-haul transport based on biomethane from 100 per cent straw, used with the new generation of CNG or LNG trucks. “Technologies are there, local feedstock is there but there is still no legal framework”, he remarked.

The EUBCE programme once again displays the tremendous innovation potential of biomass conversion, and the fact that technologies are ready to be rolled out for new investmentssays Marko Janhunen, UPM Biofuels, Director Public Affairs and LSB ChairWhat the industry once again calls for is predictable and long-term policy framework in which companies can invest and operate”, he added.

As a novelty, the audience could ask questions through an online platform.

(Article by: http://www.eubce.com/)

Rehap are currently attending the prestigious EUBCE and are presenting two posters on the project's current groundbreaking studies. More information on Rehap's attendance to follow. 

16 May 2018

Upscaling of tannin hot water extraction

Rehap recently mapped the abundant supply of agroforestry waste in Europe and where it can be most sustainably sourced from. With this knowledge, project studies have been researching the most suitable technique for developing the best protocol for extracting tannins from softwood bark for the development of petrochemical alternatives. Now, it looks like Rehap may have found it.

Recent studies within Rehap have revealed that Europe has significant amounts of straw available from agricultural waste, and bark from forestry waste. This biomass contains natural building blocks such as tannin, lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose, which can be turned into substitutes for petrochemicals in the green building sector.

Having now found where these underutilised residues are, Rehap is in the process of developing an optimised extraction, fractionation and purification protocol for the recovery of tannins from softwood barks. It is also testing the scale-up potential of this process to produce adequate amounts for further project testing.

To do this, Rehap is working closely with the team at Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP) in Ghent, Belgium. BBEPP is a flexible and diverse pilot plant for the development and scale-up of new or existing bio-based and sustainable processes to an industrial level. It performs the entire process from the green resources to the final product.

Extracting tannins from bark

In the latest lab-scale trials, Rehap looked at upscaling the hot-water extraction of tannins. Initially, the extraction of tannins from bark was developed by partners VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland, and was successfully transferred to the lab at BBEPP, where it has been scaled-up to pilot scale.

In order to ensure that the upscaling process is smooth, the different unit operations (mixing bark with water; heating mixture; cooling mixture; separating bark residue; concentrating tannin liquid) were first scaled to kilograms, before being fine-tuned to see how they performed in order to identify the most suitable options for each unit operation.

The first step involved mixing the bark with water to extract the tannins at 90°C, also called hot water extraction (Figure 1).







Figure 1: Internal view of mixing tank

After this, different techniques such as filtration, centrifugation (separating the mixture through spinning), decantation (separating mixtures by removing a liquid layer free from precipitate) and sedimentation were each performed and evaluated in order to see how the tannin solution separated from the bark residue after hot water extraction. Decantation combined with centrifugation performed the best and was found to be the most suitable technique (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Bark residue after hot water extraction

Finally, the clarified tannin solution was evaporated on a falling film evaporator, an industrial device used to concentrate solutions. This resulted in approximately 150kg of tannin extract from 4m³ of bark, giving a similar output to the process originally developed by VTT. This amount of tannin solution is excellent and should be sufficient for Rehap partners Foresa and Rampf for further modification.

For more information, please email Tarja Tamminen - Tarja.Tamminen@vtt.fi 

14 May 2018

Going against the grain: AB InBev adopt circular economy thinking to create new by-products

Rehap is dedicated to strengthening the European bio-economy through extensive research on the sustainability of converting destined agriculture and forestry waste into high-added value products for the construction industry...and beyond. Just like Rehap, the brewery company AB InBev are aiming to reduce non-renewables and reduce energy use, but they are aiming to take the wasted grain from the brewing process and turn it into deliciously healthy and nutritional protein drinks. Check out their innovative story below, as published by Bio-Based World News:

“These plant-based circular economy nutrients are much more sustainable than traditional sources like animals…”

Brewing beer can be a very wasteful process, with thousands of tons of grain residues dumped once they have been used. But now a different approach is being taken AB InBev who are giving these spent grains a second life and making beer by-products suitable for consumption. The sustainable technology was developed in AB InBev’s Global Innovation and Technology Center (GiTeC) in Leuven, Belgium. The possible applications are huge and could be used by all over the world.

The project fits within the new Global Sustainability Goals 2025 announced by AB InBev in mid-march. With nearly 200,000 employees around the world, the brewers who own over 500 beer brands including Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois: Beck’s and Hoegaarden and in 2017 reported a revenue of US$56.4 billion it’s another positive step for the development of the circular economy that a company of this standing commits to its principles.

“While we have tons of non-used nutrient-rich spent grains in our breweries, 9 billion people on the planet by 2050 will dramatically increase the global food demand. We at AB InBev wanted to match those insights. This technology has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of proteins and fibers and to unlocks their nutritional value as food for people. These plant-based circular economy nutrients are much more sustainable than traditional sources like animals, potentially representing up to 75% reduction in CO2 emissions,” says Jorge Gil-Martinez, biochemical specialist and actual “inventor” of technology at GiTeC.

Innovation process: from spent to saved grains

During the brewing process, sugars from barley are removed, resulting in spent grains containing high amounts of proteins and fibers. “Traditionally, the spent grains from the brewing process to cattle farmers to feed the animals. The rest of the grain is dumped. However, this is not the most sustainable use of the nutritional values and on a global scale this amounts to a huge waste. We wanted to make these high-nutritional grain residues suitable for sustainable human consumption. Conceptually, it sounds easy, but we were facing many technological challenges,” says Gil-Martinez.

“First of all, spent grains are perishable, and soon after production not suitable for food making. We developed a unique fermentation process to convert them into stable food ingredients. Secondly, the nutritional value from plant ingredients is somehow “locked”, and we developed specific innovative technology to release it. And of course, we had to connect and scale up all these technologies. Our team in GiTeC found an answer to these three challenges.”

Fiber-rich drinks is the first commercial launch from saved grains

Innovation only happens when R&D efforts are translated into successful commercial opportunities. The initial research started several years ago and was followed by extensive trials through multiple collaborations. The first concrete application of this technology is a fiber and protein shake called Canvas. Today a limited amount of this drink is already for sale in the United States as a pilot project.

Canvas is a sustainable, plant based barely beverage designed to support a health-conscious lifestyle and comes in five different versions: Original, Cocoa, Latte, Matcha, and Turmeric Chai. “The Canvas team made huge efforts to combine the saved grains with the right natural ingredients to create a tasteful beverage. Each bottle provides a rich and convenient source of dietary fiber, complete plant protein, essential fats and blend of delicious ingredients. The drink has 8 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber,” says Gil-Martinez. “Every bottle of Canvas has 39% of your daily recommended value of dietary fiber.”

Reduced water consumption and carbon emissions

The technology represents a way to enable access to water-efficient nutrient sources; as an example, it has calculated that animal meat requires 15 times more water for its production than the same amount of any cereal.

Finally, AB InBev will continue to tackle climate change by reducing its carbon emissions. “We aim to re-utilize several tons of our spent grains in a dedicated on-site facility. As an example, it has been calculated that we can potentially reduce carbon emissions approx. 5000 tons per year by an industrial scale implementation of this technology in Europe.”

Sustainability goals 2025 

In mid-March, the leading brewer announced its 2025 Sustainability Goals, the company’s most ambitious goals yet. This specific innovation is about circular economy, converting what was destined to be a waste into a source of sustainable nutrients. Canvas provides consumers with access to 100% plant-based proteins instead of current less-sustainable meat-based intake of proteins. And this technology can potentially be expanded: by saving the barely we can provide the world with a source of nutrients for many different food applications.

(Article written by: https://www.biobasedworldnews.com/brewery-giant-ab-inbev-adopt-circular-economy-to-give-new-life-to-spent-grains)

08 May 2018

Bio-based homes to tackle the housing emergency

A new sustainable initiative in Bristol, in the UK, uses bio-based materials to face the need for additional and affordable housing supply

Bristol is at the forefront of high-tech innovation in the UK, named European green capital in 2015. But it is also the second least affordable major British city housing-wise only after London.

Its estimated population is 454,200 people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Around 10,000 people are registered on the waiting list for a council home. There is a serious housing problem affecting both the young and the old.

To face the emergency, the Knowle West district is testing a new solution that is eco-friendly at the same time. We visited this neighbourhood in the south of Bristol, to discover how a community is trying to make possible a sustainable, affordable housing model using bio-materials.

The initiative, called We Can Make, gathered architects, designers, academics, policy makers, and residents. The result is a prototype house built on the grounds of a community centre, with the cooperation and participation of locals in the construction, plumbing, handmade carved furniture, art, and interior design.

The TAM (Transportable Accommodation Module) was designed and built using bio-materials such as straw, compress straw, and timber. These carbon capturing materials  minimise their environmental footprint.

The building is cool in summer and warm in winter, saving hundreds of pounds per month in air conditioning and heating. Actually, as soon as we entered the house, the temperature and the moisture in the environment were right despite the cold weather and rain outside.

According to Dr. Charles Gamble, our guide and head of Innovation at Stramit International, which is part of CooBio company, the TAM uses 90 percent less energy to heat and light when compared to the UK average.

“The panels are made of compress straw and strawboard framed in timber and covered in clay,” he told youris.com. “Compress straw board has been around for almost 70 years since the technology was invented in Sweden in 1950. The process, also developed in the UK, provided building materials for more than a quarter million houses from the 50s to the 70s after which it became impossible to compete with plasterboard,” he added. These natural retrofitting solutions are also currently being tested at demonstration sites in the UK (Bath) and Spain (Seville) under the EU project Isobio.

Residents who have tested the TAM space overnight have reported that they slept better than usual, which is attributed to a good quality of air in the ambience. External people can rent it through Airbnb, and the income goes to the community centre.

“It’s the breathable nature of the building,” confirmed Finlay White from ModCell, which provided the straw panel systems, when we asked the difference from the traditional Victorian houses in England. “Around the windows in the buildings you don’t get condensation. This is one of the health benefits of using bio-materials,” he explained.

“The mapping of the Knowle West area identified thousands of small plots of land where TAMs could be put to relieve the housing situation for many of the families here who are stuck, because they have no employment or they’re too old. Sometimes you have three or four generations living in a small house,” Gamble said.

“A salary is £23,000 a year. The average price house is 8.4 times that,” added White, while the TAM cost for 36m2 is £90,000, with both leasing and hire purchase options.

“What ‘We Can Make’ offers is a model that can be replicated in other regions involving local communities to develop in spaces that they privately own or the council owns, constructing the TAM systems locally to solve housing crisis,” said Gamble.

The team intends to place the houses approximately 200 metres from the community centre, hiring local people to help build the panelscreating about 21 jobs in the location.

According to White, there have been identified 1500 potential sites in this area with seven similar more estates in Bristol, and “there are estates like these all over the UK that have the same housing issues.”

A report, We Can Make: civic innovation in housing, was released in October 2017 at the Festival of the Future City in Bristol. The project is in conversation with eight more councils around Britain where TAMs could potentially be built.

(Source: www.isobioproject.com/)

04 May 2018

Compostable bag from agricultural waste

Christin Mannewitz, Conceptual Textile Design (M.A.) at the Berg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design has examined the potential of plant waste for the development of new materials. In 2015 Christin developed a first attempt of compostable bags from agricultural waste such as straw, rhubarb and asparagus peelings. We (AllThings.Bio) interviewed her about her research experience.

Can you describe us briefly what the bag you developed is made of?

My paper bag is made of different vegetable remains. These include peelings of rhubarb, asparagus as well as straw.

Why did you decide to develop a bag made from plant waste?

In the framework of a study project, I wanted to develop a bag made from renewable resources. This bag should degrade itself after use without polluting the environment. It can be an alternative to conventional plastic bags, which are produced from limited fossil raw materials and rot with harmful consequences for humans and nature. My challenge was to use a feedstock which is not already used for industrial scale production and to make a pleasant looking product.

What is the advantage of your bag compared to a common bag made for instance from recycled paper?

The advantage of my bag is that raw material used comes from vegetable residues, which don’t have to be produced but accumulate as a result of agricultural production, unlike in the paper industry, where forest areas are cut down for the production of pulp.

How much straw, rhubarb and asparagus peelings do you need to produce one bag?

I don’t have an exact measure, because my prototype has been handcrafted.

What could this bag be used for?

It can be used just a regular paper bag. The bag works particularly well on communication purposes because it is a straightforward way to showcase the material used to manufacture it.

If regularly used how long will this bag normally last?

The bag and its material are handmade but have been manufactured according to industrial standards. I believe that a paper bag made from crop residues can have the same durability as a conventional paper bag, although, I’m quite sure that better durability results can be achieved.

How can it be disposed of?

The bag can be disposed of in the compost without hesitation. Also, the glue and the print of the bag are made from natural raw materials and rot without environmental impact.

What was the biggest challenge you had to face when conducting this research?

A design study is a protected environment in which ideas are allowed to grow without having to satisfy industrial standards. This gives a great advantage because it allows the freedom to experiment and innovate. Industry operates according to its own requirements and when it comes to establishing the industrial manufacturability of such a bag specific requirement arise, like usability of the bag, availability of raw materials and availability of suitable machines for production. It was a real challenge to find the right answers to these issues but thanks to the scholarship of the ScienceCampus Halle – Plant-Based Bioeconomy, I was able to contact different people from industry and academia to address them.

Why did you decided to study a subject related to renewable resources?

I studied textile design.  At first glance, such an artistic subject doesn’t seem to have much to do with renewable resources. But in the world of textiles the raw materials are getting more and more important. The focus of this project was explicitly on sustainability, which gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge in this area by experimenting these new materials.

What is your favourite bio-based product?

Fibre cement as a material is very exciting. There are some interesting projects in this direction.

(Source: http://www.allthings.bio/compostable-bag-agricultural-waste/)

01 May 2018

Circular economy and bio-based products are major themes at PulPaper 2018

PulPaper, the leading exhibition and conference event in the forest industry’s calendar, will be held in Helsinki, Finland on 29–-31 May 2018. The themes include the circular economy, biomass use, climate change, and biorefinery development.

Environmental standards, often seen as a burden on industry, are approached at PulPaper as an opportunity. As consumer purchasing behaviours are increasingly being guided by sustainability interests and responsible production, innovations that cater to consumers’ demands in terms of ecology, functionality, aesthetics and price level are emerging as competitive advantages for companies.

Plastic is the dominant packaging material the world over. Due to its long decomposition period, plastic waste places a great burden on the environment. Today, bioplastics are finding application in a wide range of industrial sectors, including electronics, agriculture, textiles and healthcare. Wood is envisioned as the renewable raw material of the future, which will be used in both packaging materials and textiles.

PulPaper Conference will present solutions based on renewable wood materials to replace fossil-based materials. The Swedish start-up Cellutech will reveal what new materials the company is currently developing from wood. The current development of bioplastics will also be reviewed. The Finnish packaging startup Sulapac will be presented as a business case that provides a great example of ingenious packaging design. Its packaging materials are made from wood and intended for cosmetics products. They turn ecology into a luxury. Sulapac has a competitive edge because it can compete in terms of price with comparable packaging materials made from plastic, and the material can be mass produced with the same equipment as plastic.

PulPaper Conference will also deal with the use of forest biomass and the management of climate change. Speakers will address regulations related to the industry at the EU level and ponder the availability of biomass and related policies.

3D printing of biomaterials

The 3D Printing of Biomaterials seminar will also be held at PulPaper. When it comes to printing materials, the development of biomaterials opens up plenty of opportunities for new value-added uses of cellulose. 3D printing of biomaterials provides companies with a way to make cost-efficient customised products that save on materials and are environmentally sustainable. The seminar will present promising examples of cellulose-based insulation materials, for example.

Admission to the PulPaper exhibition is free of charge. To register for the paid programmes - PulPaper Conference, Business Forum and 3D Printing of Biomaterials – visit http://www.pulpaper.fi. 

(Source: http://www.bioplasticsmagazine.com/en/news/meldungen/20180426Circular-economy-and-bio-based-products-are-major-themes-at-PulPaper.php)