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Brazil-EU Cooperation for Development of Advanced Lignocellulosic Biofuels

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BECOOL (Brazil-EU Cooperation for Development of Advanced Lignocellulosic Biofuels)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2019-11-30

Strengthened cooperation between EU and Brazil could help to pave the way for the deployment of affordable and sustainable technologies and tools for the delivery of feasible value chains so to enhance the uptake of advanced biofuels in EU.
The overall objective of BECOOL is to provide highly efficient, sustainable and affordable value chains, to develop technologies and tools for the production of advanced biofuels in Europe. The project is structured in 3 main pillars covering in a balanced way the whole range of activities of the biofuels value chain (biomass production, logistics, conversion and exploitation).
During the second reporting period BECOOL activities were mostly concentrated to give continuity to the work started in the previous reporting period. The official start of the BioValue project gave a push forward to the continuity of the activities planned in DOW. In WP1 the sustainability and feasibility of integrated food-energy crop rotation systems (e.g. dedicated lignoclelulosic feedstocks such as sunn hemp, fibre sorghum, kenaf and hemp integrated within a conventional maize-wheat rotation) entered into its 3er year of evaluation. Preliminary results suggest that the introduction of dedicated lignocellulosic crops do not have negative effects in cereal grain production while highlights the potential of increasing the availability of biomass and the positive effect on the soil characteristics and more efficient use of its resources in time and space. The options to improve the harvest logistics (i.e. reducing the harvesting losses, optimized storage systems, analysis of functional fiber sorghum value chain) were further analyzed. In WP2, logistical concepts and exemplary chains for advanced lignocellulosic biofuels for different feedstocks have been described for different regions and conditions. The synchronization and exchanges with the BioValue project have been extended over an additional year to allow a better synchronization of the activities. In WP3, an updated document on the EU legislative framework on advanced biofuels focusing on RED2, has been produced. As for the experimental work, the production of pyrolysis products, feed the slurry made of FPBO/SPC in gasification, analysis of gasification of solid and liquid feedstocks have been done. Besides that, the Aspen modelling was started. In addition to that, fast pyrolysis bio-oils (FPBO) from Sorghum, giant reed and eucalyptus were produced and process configurations that are suitable for processing solid eucalyptus, fibre sorghum, and pyrolysis oils were designed. Finally, a bench-scale test unit (1-2 kg/h) for the gasification of fast pyrolysis oil was (re)constructed tested. In WP5 the market framework for biofuels in Europe and identification of the most important drivers for costs and emissions (potential direct and indirect impacts) have been analyzed. Furthermore, the alignment between BECOOL and BioValue project activities on environmental, social and economic assessments has been started. In WP6 the planning and the implementation of dissemination and communication have continued as planned. Besides that, the preliminary exploitation plan has been elaborated. Effective coordination and management of the project has been achieved through WP7.
The overall BECOOL progress during this period has been extremely good and all objectives for the reporting period have been achieved. The official start of the BioValue project gave a push forward to the continuity of the activities planned in DOW. The EU-Brazil cooperation will bring mutual benefits as well as create synergy at scientific level, that will exploit the full economic potential of biofuel value chains, while creating unique opportunities for both Brazilian and European companies. The initiation of the Biovalue activities will allow to valorize the agronomic, logistic, and conversion results obtained so far by the BECOOL project and speedup the exchange of information. To date, BECOOL has achieved a very large amount of work, with much engagement across the whole consortium and it is expected to achieve the results stated in the GA. The BECOOL ambition to deploy at least 50% more feedstock, through the improved agro-logistics and innovative cropping systems (WP1) and improved supply logistics concept (WP2) for biofuels production, is more than ever relevant taking into account that the re-cast RED II has fixed a new mandate share for advanced biofuels of 3.5%, with Advanced Biofuels double counted and with the introduction of High ILUC and low ILUC risk concepts. So the forecasted of 10 to 20 times increased demand of lignocellulosic feedstocks by 2030 can be even higher. This will have a direct impact on farmers’ revenue, job creation (especially in the rural area), and minimize the land pressure (biomass supply districts). Crop diversification will also enhance environmental benefits due to favorable crop sequencing effects. The investigation on thermochemical conversion (gasification, fast/medium/slow pyrolysis) of various biomass feedstocks (giant reed, fibre sorghum, eucalyptus, hydrolysis lignin) and intermediates (fast pyrolysis bio-oil, pyrolysis oil-char slurries) will allow moving forward the present day knowledge and achieve an optimal gas quality. Moreover, the use of intermediate energy carriers will allow overcoming major logistics barriers for low-energy density feedstocks, so more feasible value chains will be developed. While the valorization of lignin-rich residues is excepted to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of gasification and biochemical processes (WP 3 & 4), as well as technological breakthroughs on pre-treatment, hydrolysis and enzymatic saccharification and fermentation steps will increase the competitiveness of biochemical advanced ethanol (WP4). Moreover the data generated in BECOOL are only of value if they have long-term societal, economic and environmental impacts. This will be achieved in work packages 6 &7 where we are allocating a significant amount of resources for integrated assessments, dissemination, data management and, intellectual property management of the Foreground, and also for the development of an effective strategy for the results exploitation, so to strengthen the different impacts of BECOOL project. Moreover the WP5 work is be focused on securing the long-term economic, environmental and scientific impact of BECOOL activities.