Exploring the production of bio-energy from wood biomass. Italian case study.

Sara González-García, Jacopo Bacenetti

The concerns related to the environmental impact related to energy production from fossil fuel are increasing. In this context, the substitution of fossil fuel based energy by bio-energy can be an effective solution. In this study, the production of electricity and heat in Italy in a combined heat and power plant (CHP) based on an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbine from wood based biomass both from forest and agricultural activities has been analysed considering four potential alternative scenarios to the current energy status: biomass from very short rotation forestry (VSRF) poplar and willow stands as well as residues from natural forests and from traditional poplar plantations. The evaluation has been performed by applying Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method and an attributional cradle-to-gate approach has been followed. The expected savings of greenhouse gases emission and fossil fuels demand have been quantified, as well as derived emissions of toxic pollutants and substances responsible for acidification, eutrophication and photochemical oxidant formation. The results have been also compared with the conventional Italian scenario considering the current Italian electricity profile and heat production from natural gas. Among the different scenarios, due to the lower transport distance, the use of biomass from traditional poplar plantation residues shows the lowest impact. The biomass combustion emissions are the main hotspot for several evaluated impact categories (e.g., particulate matter formation, human toxicity). In fact, when the produced bio-energy is compared to the reference system (i.e., electricity produced under the Italian electric profile) the results do not favor bio-energy systems. The results reported in this study support the idea that forest residues would be an interesting and potential feedstock for bio-energy purposes although further research is required specifically with the aim of optimizing biomass supply distances.

Click here to read the article.

BLOG_Two interesting activities of the RoadToBio project!

Nine identified bio-based opportunities for the Chemical Industry

In the BBI-funded project RoadToBio with the main goal to develop a Roadmap to show the path to increase the bio-based share up to 25%  in the chemical industry until 2030, nine business cases that exemplify the possibilities for the chemical industry to produce more bio-based products have been identified. For further information please follow the link and listen to a webinar held by the consortium on July 11 to present these business cases.

Link: https://www.roadtobio.eu/index.php?page=webinars


Survey “Key barriers and hurdles on bio-based products – what is your opinion?”

RoadToBio wants to offer you the possibility to express your opinion on important barriers to bio-based products that hinder market uptake. Be part of the journey into a bioeconomy-based future. How? Complete the survey by the 31st August and return it back to the RoadToBio consortium.

For more information: https://www.roadtobio.eu/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=22&cntnt01origid=5&cntnt01returnid=5

Estimating the environmental impacts of a brewery waste–based biorefinery: Bio-ethanol and xylooligosaccharides joint production case study

Sara González-García, Pablo Comendador Morales, Beatriz Gullón

In the food industry, the brewing sector holds a strategic economic position since beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the world. Brewing process involves the production of a large amount of lignocellulosic residues such as barley straw from cereal cultivation and brewer’s spent grains. This study was aimed at developing a full-scale biorefinery system for generating bio-ethanol and xylooligosaccharides (XOS) considering the mentioned residues as feedstock. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology was used to investigate the environmental consequences of the biorefinery system paying special attention into mass and energy balances in each production section to gather representative inventory data. Biorefinery system was divided in five areas: i) reconditioning and storage, ii) autohydrolysis pretreatment, iii) XOS purification, iv) fermentation and v) bioethanol purification. LCA results identified two environmental hotspots all over the whole biorefinery chain: the production of steam required to achieve the large autohydrolysis temperature (responsible for contributions higher than 50% in categories such as acidification and global warming potential) and the production of enzymes required in the simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (> 95% of contributions to terrestrial and marine aquatic ecotoxicity potentials). Since enzymes production involves high energy intensive background processes, the most straightforward improvement challenge should be focused on the production of steam. An alternative biorefinery scenario using wood chips as fuel source to produce heating requirements instead of the conventional natural gas was environmentally evaluated reporting improvements ranging from 44% to 72% in the categories directly affected by this hotspot.

Click here to read the article.

BioSA: Production of Bio-Succinic Acid from Apple Pomace Using an Environmental Approach

Sara González-García, Lucía Argiz, Patricia Míguez, Beatriz Gullón

Fermentation-derived bio-succinic acid (BioSA) is a valuable intermediate; it is used as a chemical building block, and has multiple industrial applications as an alternative to petroleum counterparts.

The aim of this study was to develop a full-scale plant to produce BioSA from apple pomace, a low-cost solid waste from the cider- and juice-making industry, based on a biorefinery concept, and to determine its environmental profile using a cradle- to-factory-gate, scaled-up LCA approach.

Foreground data used in this LCA were based on mass and energy flows, modelled in detail.

The production process was divided into three stages:

  1. reconditioning and storage;
  2. fermentation with Actinobacillus succinogenes;
  3. purification.

The results indicate that the use of enzymes is responsible for the highest environmental burdens, due to their highly energy-intensive background production processes. When these were excluded from the analysis (following other studies available in the literature), the purification stage played an environmentally significant role, due to the extraction and distillation units involved. The electricity use and the requirements for organic solvents in these operations make up the largest environmental burdens. Thus, approaches with the highest potential for improvement must involve both operations.

Alternatives for improvement are proposed that offer interesting potential reductions in the environmental profile, especially at the purification stage.

Click here to read the article.

Invitation to participate in STAR-ProBio’s Delphi survey

STAR-ProBio’s work package on market assessment includes the identification and overview of sustainability assessment factors from the point of view of consumers. The market assessment builds upon foresight methods, such as focus group activities and a three-round Delphi study to identify the demand for new sustainability criteria that are easily understood by the different consumer groups and relevant to their needs. The Delphi survey was implemented in May 2018. It addresses two main groups of stakeholders: professionals and end-consumers.

Your opinion, dear reader, is much appreciated. Therefore, we would like to invite you to participate in the survey.

Link to the survey for professionals: https://inno.limequery.com/999623

Link to the survey for end-consumers: https://inno.limequery.com/773451

We are looking forward to receiving your input.

Bioeconomy Village @Unitelma Sapienza, Rome 2018

What is bioeconomy? What are bio-based products? Is it possible to make more sustainable choices for the environment and for our health?

Visit the BIOECONOMY VILLAGE on May 24th from 11 am to 4 pm to discover it!

In the context of the Festival of Sustainable Development 2018, the main Italian contribution to the EUROPEAN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT WEEK, we’ll wait for you at Unitelma Sapienza (Viale Regina Elena, 295).

Promoted by the BIOWAYS, STAR-ProBio, BIOVOICES and EXCornsEED projects, funded by the European Commission, the BIOECONOMY VILLAGE aims to raise awareness among the public, improve knowledge about bio-based products and promote the applications and the benefits of bioeconomy, circular economy and sustainability, fostering dialogue, discussion and sharing between the general public, researchers and companies. Through research and products samples and practical demonstrations, will be showcased to the visitors, in a simple and engaging way, how bioeconomy is increasingly part of our daily lives and how consumers’ choices can have a positive impact on the environment, society and the economy. Innovative tools such as games (serious games, video games and quizzes) will be used.

CNR, APRE, UNITELMA Sapienza, La Sapienza,  FVA New Media Research, Ecozema, Minimo Impatto, BY-entO, Algaria (Spireat) will be present, together with the European projects BIOVoices, BIOWAYS, STAR-ProBio, EXCornsEED, Leguval Biobottle.

UWM Internal Seminar

The UWM Internal Seminar “Sustainability Transition Assessment and Research of Bio-based Products: Progression and Shortcomings of Current Sustainability Standards of Bio-based Products” took place on the 22nd of March at the campus of the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn.

The goal of the seminar, consisting of 9 presentations on the scientific disciplines of agriculture, environmental management, economics and law, was to discuss research and activities performed within the STAR-ProBio project.

The event attracted 17 participants.