Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - PHYTO2ENERGY (Phytoremediation driven energy crops production on heavy metal degraded areas as local energy carrier)

Project goal and objectives
The goal of the Phyto2Energy project is to develop and validate in field conditions an innovative, complex approach combining phytoremediation of heavy metal contaminated sites with energy crops production and their conversion to energy using gasification. This approach may become an alternative for managing agricultural areas and postindustrial sites contaminated with heavy metals while delivering an environmental and economic added value. The following scientific and technological objectives are set up for the project: 1) select optimal plant species suitable for phytoremediation driven energy crops production, 2) develop a microbiological method stimulating the biomass yield and phytoremediation effect at heavy metal contaminated sites; 3) demonstrate an environmentally safe way of converting the heavy metal contaminated biomass into energy in a small scale local installation with special focus on gasification.
Main activities and results obtained so far
Within the reported period, under WP1 a field experiment was established and has been run by IETU and VITA34. It consist of 20 experimental plots at 2 experimental sites: a heavy metal contaminated arable land (Bytom site, Poland) and a postindustrial site – former sewage sludge dewatering area (Leipzig site, Germany) using the pre-selected energy crop species Miscanthus x giganteus, Sida hermaphrodita, Spartina pectinata, Panicum virgatum combined with IETU old control plantation of the same species established in 2010. In connection to WP2 activities a commercial inoculum EmFarma Plus provided by ProBiotics was applied to selected plots at both sites together with application of NPK fertilization. Soil characteristics on the experimental plots was performed based on 3 soil sampling campaigns aimed at determining: the initial soil conditions prior to planting and the changes in the bioavailability of heavy metals. Additionally three plant sampling campaigns were implemented: two for the 2014 growing season (autumn and winter) and one for 2015 growing season (autumn) to determine:1) the growth of the tested species for the growing seasons 2014 and 2015 and 2) the impact of heavy metals on the plant growth during the second growing season. The key results from the characteristics of soil performed for the Bytom and Leipzig sites showed that the content of organic matter determined the bioavailability level of heavy metals and in consequence the level of heavy metal uptake by the tested energy species. The lowest metal uptake and the highest biomass production was found for Spartina pectinata irrespective of the site which makes it a candidate species for safe biomass production, even at heavily contaminated sites with high heavy metal bioavailability level. The highest lead uptake was determined for Miscanthus x giganteus, while the highest cadmium and zinc uptake was determined for Sida hermaphrodita. These species produced also a satisfactory biomass yield which makes them candidates for phytoremediation driven energy crop production.
Activities in WP2 implemented by IETU, ProBiotics and HMGU were focused on the application of the inoculum EmFarma Plus™ at the experimental fields (IETU old control plantation and new plots as a reference for the development of a new innoculum dedicated to the growth of biomass on HMC sites and thus enhanced phytoremediation effect. The functional diversity of microbial communities in soil from Bytom and Leipzig sites was evaluated using EcoPlates Biolog system. For the purposes of developing the new inoculum endophytes and rhizobacteria from the tested plant species were isolated. A total of 144 candidate bacterial stains were characterized together with the assessment of their toxicity, phylogenetic position based on DNA extraction and amplification and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes. Based on the obtained results a complete genome sequencing of 10 strains belonging to the Pseudomonas putida cluster was performed. A bioinformatics pipeline was set up and validated to identify mobile genetic elements that induce enhanced resistance of the microflora against heavy metals. As a final result, 3 bacteria strains belonging to the species Ps putida were selected as a basis for the development of the novel inoculum. A new procedure for preparation and application of the new inoculum was prepared.
Activities under WP3 were focused on determining the parameters for heavy metal contaminated biomass which are critical for its conversion to energy by gasification. The set includes: moisture content, lower heating value (LHV), volatile matter, heavy metal content, bulk density, particle size distribution, ash content and its chemical composition, ash melting behavior, heavy metal content in ash and tars. Two biomass gasification tests were performed by SUT and ISPE and supplemented with TG analysis were carried out for the biomass from the old IETU plantation and new plantations at the Bytom and Leipzig sites using a fixed bed installation at SUT. The gasification end products such as ash and tar were analysed. An excel tool to perform multicriterial cost benefit analysis of heavy metal contaminated biomass gasification was developed. The key findings demonstrate that gasification process of heavy metal contaminated biomass is characterized by a lower emission of gaseous pollutants into the atmosphere compared to combustion as most of the heavy metals from biomass are moved into solid products. Heavy metal content in tars was much lower in comparison to ash. Taking into consideration the results of the composition the ashes, their potential land application should be carefully analysed.The lower heating value (LHV) of the gasification gas from the biomass determined on the level of 4MJ/m3 indicates acceptable efficiency of the gasification process. The gasification process parameter λ excess air ratio of 0.18 was determined as optimal for achieving the highest LHV. No strong effect of the EmFarmaPlus inoculum, NPK or type of biomass on LHV was identified so far. In terms of the cost benefit analysis, gasification of heavy metal contaminated biomass seems economically viable for installations with the installed electrical power of > 50 kWel and the use of gas obtained after gasification for combined electricity and heat generation. Pelletizing or refraction of input material were identified as areas for gasification process improvement which may have an impact on the quality of the produced gasification gas.
Expected results of the project and their potential impact and use
Comprehensive guidelines on selection of plant species most appropriate to implement the phytoremediation driven energy crops production at heavy metal contaminated sites as a practice for managing postindustrial sites or contaminated arable land. These guidelines can be used by both IETU and VITA34 to extend the scope of the offered services especially that phytoremediation as an environmentally friendly remediation method is publically well accepted while the interest in energy crops production gains continuously increasing interest as renewable energy source. Overall the approach allows to improve land management practices by restoring the environmental and economic qualities of heavy metal contaminated sites.
A microbiological method stimulating the biomass yield and phytoremediation effect at HMC sites development of the method provides basis for a developing a prototype innoculum dedicated to increase the biomass yield of energy crops and thus facilitating the phytoremediation effect which together with a method of its production are possibly exploitable results especially for ProBiotics and IETU as well as source of knew knowledge for HMGU to use in further research.
Definition of process and installation parameters guidance as well as biofuel feedstock parameters are important for the future design of gasification installations dedicated to HMC biomass which can be used by ISPE in their services as well as for SUT in continuing their market-oriented research. They will also contribute to increasing the competitiveness of small scale gasification installations on the market.

Phyto2Energy contact details : web site
No. Institution Contact details
Ul. Kossuta 6
40-844 Katowice, Poland Izabela Ratman-Kłosińska Telefon: + 48 32 254 60 31 ext. 243
Bdul. Lacul Tei nr.1-3, Bucuresti 020371, Romania, Daniela Burnete Telefon: + 40 21 206 14 39
3 VITA 34
Perlickstraße 5 04103 Leipzig, Germany, Anja Hebner Telefon: + 49 (0)341 48792-863 Anja.Hebner@VITA34.DE
Ingolstädter Landstr. 1 85764 Neuherberg, Germany, Michael Schloter Telefon: + 49 89 31 87 23 04
5 ProBiotics
Bratuszyn 21, 62-720 Brudzew, Poland, Magdalena Górska Telefon: + 48 662 066 941
ul. Konarskiego 22, 44-100 Gliwice, Poland Sebastian Werle Telefon: + 48 32 23729 83

A pdf file contaning the publishable summary is attached as Attachment 1 a full version of the report is attached as Attachment 2

Reported by



Life Sciences
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top