Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


MOBILE FLIP Report Summary

Project ID: 637020
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MOBILE FLIP (Mobile and Flexible Industrial Processing of Biomass)

Reporting period: 2016-07-01 to 2017-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The overall objective of the project is to develop mobile and flexible units for conversion of various types of underutilized solid lignocellulosic biomass residues into enriched fractions, chemicals, energy carriers and materials. The mobile unit is flexible in terms of raw materials; it can utilize various lignocellulosic side streams and wastes from forestry, agriculture as well as solid residues from food industry. These streams are typically seasonal and generated in remote locations, thus mobility of the unit is important. Transportation costs are reduced by treating biomass near its source.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The suitability of biomass value chains from feedstocks via processes to products were evaluated, and process operating conditions were optimised. The work included biomass selection, procurement and characterization, process tests and modelling at lab and pilot scale and products quality tests. The biomasses were selected based on availability in Europe and diversity in terms of species and climate: “wet” biomasses (grape pomace, corn stover, corn leaves, coffee cake, brewery and greenhouse residues) suitable only for hydrothermal processes, and “dry” biomasses (Scots pine bark and forest residue, beech chips, poplar, willow, reed canary grass, wheat straw, sunflower shells, grape seed cake and corn cob) that are suitable for a wider range of processing.

Work on pelletizing of torrefied materials by SPC and SLU has led to the development of an innovative device based on die cooling at SLU, which has been benchmarked with the pelletization tool of RAGT. The quality of the pellets has been assessed in combustion tests at RAGT. CHIMAR has successfully produced particle boards from raw biomasses and pellets, but the final product quality was still lower than using untreated wood raw material.

VTT lab-scale hydrothermal carbonization tests showed the major influence of biomass selection on the resulting biochar. Brewery residues, coffee cake, willow and Scots pine bark were up-scaled to VTT’s 10 L high pressure reactor to produce biochar for application tests in soils, in the production of particleboards and as a raw material for the production of activated carbon. Detailed studies on cheminal and physical activations of biochar were performed, benchmarking HTC and slow pyrolysis biochars. Wet oxidation tests on HTC liquid fractions were performed at Processum to explore how their environmental impacts can be minimized.

Tests with Biogold’s bench scale hydrothermal treatment unit showed that raw materials strongly influence pH changes and release of biomass components to the water phase. Pretreatment efficiency was evaluated by VTT using an enzymatic saccharification test. Several agricultural residues showed best suitability for saccharification process.

Regarding torrefaction, CEA lab-scale tests showed major differences of solid mass loss evolution versus time and temperature among biomass samples, having a major impact on process operating conditions chosen by ETIA for economic viability of industrial units. Pilot scale tests were performed by ETIA and CEA in order to produce enough material for product quality evaluations. Chimar tested particle boards production both from torrefied biomasses. Even if the mechanical properties are impaired by use of torrefied products, the thickness swelling is improved.

Regarding slow pyrolysis line, VTT bench-scale tests gave information on mass yields of solid biochar, liquid and gas. Biomass influence could be clearly observed, which tends to show that optimization could be performed on Raussi’s industrial unit depending on the final product preferred. A common roadmap was defined with Luke for certification of biochar and liquid produced in the mobile slow pyrolysis unit.

Detailed experiments and characterization on biochar use as soil improving materials and liquid fraction as biopesticide and manure acidification were made by Luke. 3D-imaging of the biochars from different raw materials and process lines highlighted huge differences in biochar quality. These results emphasize the importance of end-product characterization as well as the need for detailed studies on the important properties for each specific end-use purpose.

Four mobile process lines have been designed and their construction is almost finalised: hydrothermal pre-treatment (BioGold, VTT), torrefaction (ETIA, CEA), slow pyrolysis (RAUSSI, VTT) and pelletizing (SLU, SPC).

For the LCA studies, definition of the technologies and related system boundaries was carried out in collaboration with projec

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The targets for development beyond the state of the art were set in the beginning of the project. So far, the following targets have been reached:

• Mobile, small-scale systems developed for at site treatment of spatially scattered raw material sources for compaction of heterogeneous materials into homogeneous dedicated feedstock streams.
• Two technologies developed for the utilization of wet organic raw material on site, strongly reducing biomass volume and mass.
• Torrefaction has been tested and optimized for several biomass types, partly coupled with pelletization.
• Continuously operated mobile slow pyrolysis charcoal retort for scattered forestry and agricultural raw materials has been planned and constructed. Continuous operation increases energy efficiency and productivity compared to batch reactors and minimizes the need for external energy supply. The liquid product is promising for application in acidification of animal slurry.

Several suitable business models have been identified, and work with identification of additional funding possibilities has started. Preliminary results are promising for a business model where several SME:s together invest in a system solution or a third party (e.g. machine contractor, company working with biomass) owns the equipment and operates it or rents it out to SME:s with available biomass.

The following potential impact categories are relevant: 1) Workers/employees: Workers’ safety issues relating to manual labor and end-product chemicals, new formal educational opportunities and development of new skills. 2) Local community: job creation, increased self-sufficiency, increased traffic, education initiatives on community level. 3) Society: increased employment opportunities. 4) Consumers: increased convenience and economic self-reliance for home owners as a result of new energy sources. 5) Value chain actors: Positive impacts on entrepreneurs and farmers through ownership or control of new kinds of businesses.

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