CORDIS - EU research results

The CARGOMIL, an innovative self propelled all terrain vehicle for mobilising “where and when the biomass is”.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CargoMill (The CARGOMIL, an innovative self propelled all terrain vehicle for mobilising “where and when the biomass is”.)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-05-31

The CARGOMILL aims to tackle the main hurdle of the emerging biobased economy: to mobilize biomass (the residual part of the timber or the harvest activity, left on the ground, having no economical value which is not competing with food) for enabling the second generation biobased and circular economy.

a) Problem to be addressed.
The biobased economy will mobilize local biomass. The EU objectives are ranging from 350 millions tons per year at the horizon 2030 up to 700 millions tons (2050). Considering an average market price of 60€/T (baseline), the total market value is estimated to exceed 20Bios€ per year at the horizon 2030.
But, biomass products (from forestry, agriculture) contain a lot of water and are voluminous. From a sustainability and cost point of view it makes no sense to transport biomass feedstock “as it is” to existing biobased chemical plants or power plant. A pretreatment is required for drying and formatting the biomass according to the ISO standards.
The CARGOMILL is a tangible solution to trigger the biobased economy (bioenergy and biochemistry) from niche to norm by delivering economical value to agro or forest by products.

b) Why is it important for the society?
The CARGOMILL is the missing link to organize the supplies from the field’s, the forest to the biobased plants like biochemichals plants or power plants-CHP fuelled with biomass.
Mobile, biomass agnostic (able to process wood or agro by products like wood chips, branches, straw, stalks,..), the versatility of the CARGOMILL is today, unique, for operating in remote areas. The local population are not always equipped with high duty equipment (tractors, harvesters,..) for mobilizing the biomass.

Over the densification bundle aiming to produce pellets-briquettes, a specific feature will be an integrated process for converting the biomass into syrup with high C5-C6 sugars.
Therefore, the added value created in remote areas is higher (1°) and only intermediates products are exported outside the sourcing areas (2°). This is also opening a wider range of end users.

c) Overall objectives?
The purpose of the CARGOMILL is to be operated. Several commercial contacts and agreements, letters of interest were signed.
Most of components are market available and were tested. There is no more a major technological barrier.
The next challenge is to finance the acquisition and assembling of all components prior to the operations.
a) From the technical aspects, a general lay out was finalized.
The feasibility of the concept was validated by the suppliers. Each supplier (self-propelled, wood chipper, manufacturer of the screw extruder) was visited. For the entire CargoMill concept, a budget was quoted.
b) From the customer’s point of view, at this stage, the marks of interest are numerous and coming from Belgium, Slovakia, France, Spain, and several from Africa. These interests were turned into letters of intent. However, the precedent condition is usually to assembly the self propelled and to deliver a proof of concept. This is still the main bottleneck.
c) With this budget, the agreements and letters of intent collected, a final business plan was finalized. Several coaches have contributed with their vision to the accuracy of the business plan and the figures.
A first financing round has showed some interest but was not enough to close the requested budget.
Therefore, a new financing round will be launched (Sept 2016) to close the financing gap with the objective to operate a first, then several CargoMills.
The overall bankability of the project and the equipment will be again assessed by the Belgian credit & export insurance company, the Credendo Group.
A. The technical settings.
During this prior study, some upgrades, beyond the state of the art were identified.
(1) Exhaust gas recuperation:
This economical and environmental added value is obvious. The exhausts gases are no more released in the air but well recuperated.
The cost of the primary fuel (diesel) is decreased thanks to the thermal value of the exhausts gases recuperated for drying the biomass. It was calculated that the heat exchangers installed on the CargoMill will recuperate up to 80% of the exhausts gazes energy (former thermal losses).
Moreover, the thermal value of the biomass is improved (for bioenergy purpose) equivalent to 10€ per ton by 5% increment of the moisture decrease (assuming a reference price of 80€/T of biomass).
Nevertheless, additional heat source were identified with a carbonization kiln.
(2) Additional thermal heating capacity.
As the moisture content of the biomass must be reduced prior to the densification, the CargoMill will use its own waste energy from the exhaust gazes. This heating media equivalent to an estimate of 600kW th will not be enough in several cases.
Therefore, we have decided to operate an additional carbonization kiln with a capacity of 16Tons per day that will deliver one additional MW thermal (1°) and also a by products, the charcoal. The charcoal can be used as organic fertilizer (useful in agricultural areas) but also as additive to improve the calorific value of the collected biomass. More GJ/T or MWH/T mean also less logistic costs as more energy per ton is transported and a better profitability.

(3) Hydrolysis of biomass.
Finally, the last breakthrough finding is the possibility to hydrolyze biomass in situ.
This major step of development will be launched at a later stage (2018).
4 steps for converting biomass into valuable biobased building blocks are necessary: the supply chain, the pretreatement and hydrolizis then the fermentation and the distillation
Today, the last three steps are performed at the plant level.
Among these steps, the pretreatment is not the core business of most of industrialists that are more specialized in fermentation and/or distillation.
R&D for the pretreatment have made the last years significant progress especially by soaking the biomass with ionic liquids. This step is less energy intensive and does not require steam explosion (less CAPEX intensive).
Three universities were contacted for continuing this phase 2 of the development.
The concept to mobilize the biomass and to hydrolyze it “in situ” is gaining more interest near one key industrialist, supplying enzyme.

B. Socio economical impacts:
1) From the climatic point of view and the reduction of the GHG, the mobilization of untapped biogenic raw material will trigger more biobased projects either for bioenergy or for the biobased economy.
A prerequisite condition is to keep an eye on the entire sustainability of the supply chain. In figures, a ton of biomass is savings 1,2T of fossil based CO2 delivered by crude oil and 1,5T of CO2 from coal. The capacity of the CargoMill is saving up to 60 to 70.000T of renewable CO2.
2) The energy and mass balance of the biomass is imporved: the calorific value is increased twofold from 2MWh/T to 4,5-5MWh/t while the mass balance of the biomass is “compacted” from 200kgs/m3 to 800kgs/m3 resulting in less transport (and related GHG) and a higher logistics efficiency. Any improvement per MWh is reducing the footprint by 2.000m2 of forest surface equivalent.
3) For the environmental and social aspects, a dedicated equipment wit embedded probes and sensors will technically contribute to monitor the environmental aspects: soil’s fertility, biodiversity, sourcing from unprotected areas. The sourcing of biomass is relying on finite resources. A price must be paid to the biomass owners to incentivize his monitoring and for keeping the environmental and biodiversity issues under a tight control.
Sacrifices vs. benefits for the people and end users (industries).
Value of the heat exchanger system (May 2016)
general view of the CargoMill - 1st version (May 2016)
Embedded drying system on the CargoMill (May 2016)
Preatreatment of biomass by centrifugal milling - prototype (mobile version)
View of the concept CargoMill - with hydrolyzis May-June 2016