Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

MICROFUEL — Result In Brief

Project ID: 218454
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Norway

Reason to celebrate burning in the forests

Wood chips and twigs could soon be feedstock for the local production of biofuels thanks to compact and mobile pyrolysis technology developed by an EU-funded consortium.
Reason to celebrate burning in the forests
The majority of forestland in the EU is privately owned and although most are less than three hectares in size, they supply the raw materials for many wood-based industries. Increasing labour costs combined with inexpensive wood fibre from suppliers outside the EU have resulted in tremendous job losses despite the fact that only 60 % of annual forest growth is actually harvested.

Recognising the opportunity to salvage the remainder to help meet the EU's goals for renewable energy from biomass, scientists initiated the EU-funded project 'Mobile microwave pyrolysis plant turns biomass into fuel locally' (MICROFUEL). The project designed a system to process forest floor residue and waste such as twigs, bark, leaves and stumps at the forest site itself for production of biochar and bio-oil. The latter is directly usable as a carbon dioxide (CO2)-neutral alternative to fossil fuels in boilers, stationary diesel engines and gas turbines.

The working prototype produced flammable bio-oil and a form of biochar in batch mode from wood chips with estimated potential throughput for continuous mode of 400–500 kg per hour (hr), surpassing the original goal of 230 kg/hr. While further work is required to optimise the technology, preliminary results suggest a potential throughput of 2 000 kg/hr would be possible at full scale. Furthermore, the mobile pyrolysis system fits into two standard 20–foot containers, so easily shipped to remote European forests for local generation of biofuels.

Continued development is expected to deliver optimised materials and systems, including monitoring and control. Eventual commercialisation could have major impact on the millions of people employed by forestry and forestry-related industries and on the continued viability of the small, privately owned forests providing the majority of raw materials. In addition, forest floors will be cleared of debris that generates methane, a greenhouse gas.

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