For the past few weeks, we’ve been doing an overview of the upcoming biomass innovation projects in the UK, with a range of materials being harnessed for their potential efficacy as biomass feedstocks. Funding under the government’s Biomass Feedstocks Innovation Programme was split into two lots, with the first (lot 1) being innovation projects and the latter (lot 2) being ‘multi-site demonstrator platforms’ which will be used to showcase the lot 1 projects across the UK.
This piece marks the final round of lot 1 projects. So far, we’ve covered algae, miscanthus and hemp, willow and semi-wild crops such as bracken and heather, and this week’s projects are covering forestry and energy crops.
Stay tuned for next week’s edition for a look at the funding’s lot 2 projects!
Mostex Global Solutions: Integrated whole tree extraction and on site pre-processing of under-yielding forest resources
Mostex was set up with the aim of reducing the corrosive nature of agri-feedstock, establishing effective methods of handling this material and improving yields. The group’s mobile, modular steam explosion processing system designed to produce low carbon energy using agri-waste products such as bagasse, energy crops and green waste.
The group will use the government funding to develop whole tree harvesting, replacing sub-optimal groves planted between the 1960s and 1980s. The remote placement of many of these woodlands, as well as their monoculture nature limiting growth, harvesting them for biomass supply is not currently economical. With a new method of harvesting, Mostex is looking to replant regions, as well as pre-process in-forest to remove corrosive elements and create a clean fuel that adheres to ‘standardised fuel envelopes for electricity and heat generation’.
NMC2 Limited and University of Bath Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies: Development of a biodegradable, bio-based tree shelter that improves planting efficiency
Under this project, the team will build a ‘tree shelter’ to protect groves from damage from surrounding wildlife. The structure will be bio-based and biodegradable, using natural materials sourced locally that are intended to enrich the surrounding soil as it degrades.
Forest Creation Partners & Forest Research: ForestFounder
This forestry project uses geospatial data science to identify the best sites for forestry-based biomass production, allowing landowners to use their land to the best advantage, and provide the optimum conditions for forestry production.
The project will use the existing ForestFounder geospatial technology, expanding it to cover the whole of the UK (rather than just England), as well as covering a broader range of tree species recommendations. Forest Research will also update its own species datasets to reflect the UK Climate Projections 2018, allowing for a wider scope on the forestry potential of areas.
New Energy Farms (NEF): Enhanced vegetative propagation combined with new variety introductions to expand energy crop production.
Currently, growth of perennial energy grass (PEG) crops is hindered by a lack of varieties, as well as the difficulty in planting the vegetatively propagated crops. NEF is looking to address this problem – collecting data from existing PEG breeding programmes to identify which varieties of the plant would work best in different areas, and offering biomass users with a greater range of crop options. The group also offers its CEEDS technology: a novel means of propagating crops that allows for easier planting and a more rapid introduction of new varieties into farms.
The group says that deploying a range of crop types holds the potential to increase biomass yields, as well as cut costs and curb greenhouse gas emissions.