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Mushroom and biogas production in a circular economy

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - MUBIC (Mushroom and biogas production in a circular economy)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2020-01-31

This project creates a resource cycle between biogas production, mushroom production and energy and nutrient recovery, thus establishing a circular system where low value waste is converted to high value food.

Growing certain biological foods, such as mushrooms, requires a substrate such as straw, wood, horse manure or poultry litter for organisms to grow. The technology of this project is an innovative method to produce a new substrate that enables optimal recovery of nutrients and provides highly efficient use of biomass at low cost. The case for mushroom production is particularly compelling, as the Advanced Substrate Technology (AST) solution with its production of new substrate enables a significant reduction in substrate production costs, recovers nutrients that are otherwise lost, and optimises the production of biogas.
Biogas production is increasing, but the issue of recovering nutrients in the most effective way is still a major challenge for a successful implementation of biogas. This project improves the business case of biogas plants by upgrading the waste product to value products.
The market for mushrooms is growing, but Europe is not exploiting this potential for production of a high value food product due to high labour cost. This is now made possible with this AST/Panbo innovation, and the project will improve the business case for the mushroom producers and enable a circular use of resources to the benefit of the environment, the food industry and the consumers.

Project objectives are:
1. Establishment of an AST plant in commercial scale as add-on to a biogas plant
2. Establishment of a Panbo Tray System plant in commercial scale for mushroom production
3. Validate a 50% reduction in production cost of substrate for mushroom production
4. Validate feasibility: ROI of max. 3 years on investment in the AST plant for mushroom producers
In October 2019 AST entered as partnership in a new joint venture DBG = Dansk Bio-fiber og Gødning” (Danish Bio-fibre and fertilizer). The main focus for DBG is to supply pre-treated biomass as input to biogas plants and to have in return fibre separated from degasified biomass for processing – dewatering, drying, compacting or pelletising - and use it for the production of green bio-fertilizers, bedding material and bio-fuel.
The DBG arm with pre-treatment and supply of biomass input to biogas plants was put in operation in December 2019 and by end of January 2020 the production was 120 to 150 ton per day with up to 15 ton per hour.
The DBG processing line for production of green bio-fertilizers, bedding material and bio-fuel is under execution and erection and it will be in operation in April 2020 and running at full capacity in August 2020.
DBG expects to erect 2 – 3 more production units in Denmark.
New interesting business opportunities and potential strong partnerships have been spotted with the aim to use dried, compressed or compacted degasified fibre that can replace turf and be used as “green substrate” for plant production.
In January 2020 AST setup a new company named “Green Substrate” with the specific aim to invest in production and commercialisation of “Green Substrate” products for mushroom and plant production.
The first GS production line was erected in parallel and on the same location as the DBG production lines. DBG is taking care of the operation as well as the security of basic raw materials input. A supply – buy contract between GS and Pindstrup Mosebrug (PM) has been signed.
In March 2019 Panbo entered a joint venture called Spreewald Pilz Park GmbH with Gemüsering Stuttgart GmbH. This joint venture will build and operate the first large scale mushroom facility with the Panbo tray system in Germany. The land for the project has been purchased and the building permit was obtained in March 2020. The mushroom production is expected to start at end of 2020. Panbo Systems BV is the turn-key contractor of the tray farm.
Gemüsering Stuttgart GmbH is the largest vegetable trading company in Germany. With this strategic partner, Panbo agreed to build and operate between 15 and 25 facilities in Germany.
A pre-contract between GS and Panbo regarding the opportunity of AST supplying substrate goal to be used in the Panbo tray farm system has been agreed and AST’s substrate is expected to represent Panbo’s main substrate part for the tray farm in Spreewald and the rest of the new future tray farms to be erected in Germany.
The project has in fact progressed beyond both current state-of-the-art and the expected technical feasibility when the project was initiated. The project is structured in five parts:
1. Biomass pre-treatment and handling
2. Processing of degasified biomass
3. Fibre and phase 2 substrate production
4. Phase 3 substrate production
5. Mushroom production in tray system
Circular economy is the whole cornerstone of the project. Circular economy through the transformation of a low-value product into high-value products ensures our strategic objective of being more sustainable.
Advanced Substrate Technology (AST) is the exclusive owner of GS, with the option to divest parts of GS at a later date. AST has a collaboration with Pindstrup Mosebrug (PM) on the development of green substrate for plant production and has entered into an agreement for PM to purchase a significant amount from GS. In addition, GS cooperates with Panbo on the supply of green substrate for mushroom production and from autumn 2020, there will be a continuous supply to Panbo's new mushroom production plant in Germany.

The project impacts UN’s 17 sustainable goals as below:
2: Zero Hunger (End Hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.)
DBG circular approach to sustainable production makes DBG meet this goal. Conversion of the entire degassed biomass to high-value products including organic fertilizer gives a productive agricultural practice.

9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Through biomass degradation, grinding and N-steaming, energy utilization of the biomass is increased by up to 60% in biogas plants. Local biomasses such as carrot hems, wet straw etc. with DBG technology can enter biogas plants.

12: Responsible consumption and production
DBG has a high degree of circular production by making more waste materials available for biogas production and creating more fertilizers of the degassed biomass.

13: Climate action
The DBG method of getting biomass into a biogas plant ensures less loss of methane collected as biogas and avoids the release of methane as a greenhouse gas. For example, straw covering carrots could come into biogas plants rather than being plowed down. At the plant, we talk about 20,000 tons of straw on top of carrot that can give 2.3 million. m3 methane that comes out as biogas rather than released as methane in the atmosphere under molding.

15: Life on land
With DBG technology, it is possible to produce an organic start fertilizer for use in organic production, which is not available on the market today. Furthermore, AST has shown and patented method which allows degassed fiber to be used as a substitute for spaghetti for plant production and as a fungal substrate. Mushroom substrates are produced today by a composting process and thus methane is released into the atmosphere rather than as biogas by the AST method.
Movable Grinder and cutter in operation and finished material (July – August 2018)
N-stripper, N-steamer and N-absorber installed at Foulum Biogas (end of July 2018)