Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


BIOCARD — Result In Brief

Project ID: 19829
Funded under: FP6-SUSTDEV
Country: Spain

Turning artichokes into energy

An EU-funded initiative investigated the artichoke plant for its potential in developing biofuel in countries around the Mediterranean. The plant requires practically no watering beyond rainwater.
Turning artichokes into energy
Biomass refers to biological material such as wood residue from forests or municipal waste that is transformed into energy and biofuel. Exploited often in northern Europe thanks to forest residues and ideal native crops, the technology may be introduced to Southern Europe as well, using the region's local crops.

The project 'Global process to improve Cynara cardunculus exploitation for energy applications' (Biocard) investigated the feasibility of using the artichoke plant (also known as cardoon or cynara crop) for energy production. As the plant doesn't need much watering, it may be used efficiently to produce energy.

The project aimed to upgrade the Cynara crop and seeds to produce biomass and liquid biofuels. It looked at crop management, harvesting and pre-treatment for energy use, as well as transportation logistics. The project team experimented with non-irrigated crop that depended solely on rainwater. Options for biofiring, i.e. combining Cynara and coal in power plants, was also studied, alongside combustion efficiency and feasibility. The latter relied on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations to adapt existing power plants to the secondary fuel. In parallel, various combustion tests were undertaken, revealing that using Cynara alone was not recommended as it posed slagging and fouling issues.

The project also found that crude Cynara oil could produce biodiesel for diesel engines under certain conditions using specific catalysts, a process which required further study. Overall, the project offered a feasible alternative for biomass applications around the Mediterranean basin using the Cynara crop. While some issues still need to be researched, Biocard brought this prospect much closer to reality. As a result, Southern Europe, as well as the Near East and North Africa may eventually see biomass technology that fits with its non-rainy climate and produces cleaner energy.

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