Creation of new biofuels under cross-border project
It is called Biomassa-AP and its main objective is to develop new biofuels made from biomass derived from pruning debris, shrubs, vines and kiwi production. The project is promoted by a consortium involving INEGI, who has already carried out the first tests with the new biofuels.
Until recently the raw materials in question were undervalued, although they are abundant in the northern Portugal-Galicia euroregion and have enormous energy and economic potential. To harness their potential, Portugal and Galicia came together to apply innovative methodologies and technologies in order to make possible the optimized recovery of energy of this specific type of biomass.
As explained by Aida Sanches, a researcher at INEGI, "the project is of great importance as a means of increasing the competitiveness of this euroregion and of promoting the transition to a circular economy, given that this “waste” was not being used despite having a high potential for energy recovery”.
INEGIs role in the project is the optimization of the densification and additivation of new biofuels, the validation of its use as fuel, while seeking to identify opportunities to develop the technologies used.
The project kicked off in 2017 and INEGI has already presented some results. Vítor Ferreira, na INEGI researcher working on the project, says that "the first trials of densification of pruning have already been carried out," which showed that "briquettes produced with vine pruning perform better at a mechanical resistance level and in combustion pre-tests ".
In order to validate the use of biofuels, the team carried out combustion tests with the already densified species in a 24 kW domestic boiler and found that both species present satisfactory results in terms of thermal efficiency and combustion hygiene. Tests have shown, however, that ash, ie the amount of unburnt material, is slightly higher than that of commercial briquettes, which may be a disadvantage.
INEGI’s team will now produce briquettes with other forest species, and compare non-additive and additive species. Among the next steps is also the validation of the use of biofuels developed in biomass gasification systems.
The project, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), also aims to increase the competitiveness of agricultural and forestry companies in the northern Portugal-Galicia region, and generate employment through the creation of new products.