Rehap sent PhD student Lars Wietschel to Paris to attend the workshop of another SPIRE 2030 project, Mobile Flip – the Mobile and Flexible Industrial Processing of Biomass. He was there to exchange developments and resource sampling, build friendships and contacts with other project researchers, and to return home with a rucksack full of straw.

Currently working as research assistant at the Chair for Production & Supply Chain Management at the University of Augsburg, Lars was invited to attend Mobile Flip’s second Demonstration Technical Meeting by Dr Tarja Tamminen, the project coordinator of Mobile Flip and leader of Rehap’s second work package, and Dr Andrea Thorenz who is involved with Rehap’s waste management work package.

One of Mobile Flip’s main objectives is to use mobile processing for the treatment of the underexploited organic materials that are produced as by-products when agriculture and agroforestry are harvested, and utilise these biomass resources into products such as fuel or biodegradable pesticides.

As a result of Rehap’s waste management research, the University of Augsburg identified the region of Bassin Parisien, the area surrounding Paris, as the region with the largest bioeconomic potential of wheat straw across Europe. This lowland belt around Paris can produce crops all year round because of its optimum climate, compared with Germany where the winters are too harsh for harvests to grow and, therefore, the bioeconomy is not as prevalent.

Lars was the only Rehap project associate on the Mobile Flip workshop but remarked on how interesting it was to meet members working under the same umbrella cause – the better use of biomass. He added that, “it was nice to go and meet other researchers as it is easy to forget, or put the time in, to network with other projects. Whilst Rehap and Mobile Flip have different project outcomes, meeting and talking with them has definitely built a great new network for the future.”

The aim of Lars’ participation was on the one hand to do just this and exchange different SPIRE projects with similar aims, and on the other hand to retrieve some wheat samples for different biophysical analytics.

The meeting consisted of numerous field trips around Paris to different companies and organisations involved in agricultural and forestry activities. On-site demonstrations included the application of heat and chemical processes in the production of energy products from biomass, the demonstration of agricultural biomass production, and a visit to an industrial site processing agricultural biomass.

“For me, the most interesting visit was to the university, UniLaSalle, in Beauvais, as the work being carried out there is most closely linked to our first task in Rehap, the assessment of residue potentials,” reported Lars. The university has a large agricultural research institute participating in important studies on the maximisation of cereal and straw yields by maintaining sustainable, healthy and productive high soil qualities, also known as the sustainable removal rate.

When Lars asked UniLaSalle whether a batch of their straw could be taken back to Germany for testing, “they replied by stating that they had a lot of straw left over from their research acitivites and so they kindly handed me loads! Luckily I had my hiking bag with me and so I managed to carry four kilograms of straw back with me on the train.”

When the straw arrived back in Augsburg, it was sent to the laboratory in Valladolid for further investigation for the Rehap project.