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Biorefining and Irish
Agriculture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summary

Carbolea Researchers, through funding from the Department of Agriculture's Research Stimulus Fund Programme, are currently working on a Project entitled "Analysis of the suitability of second-generation technologies (2GTs) for Irish agriculture and the viability and costs of feedstocks: Desk-based evaluation supported by limited chemical analysis".

This project builds upon the previous work in the area of biorefineries and second generation biofuels by Daniel Hayes and involves the detailed lignocellulosic analysis of feedstocks of interest to the Irish agricultural sector. In this regard there will be a particular focus on the energy crop miscanthus, which can achieve excellent yields in parts of Ireland. There will also be evaluation of other energy crops such as short rotation coppices as well as agricultural residues and wastes such as straws, manures and spent mushroom compost. Areas under investigation include the following:

- The potential of biorefineries to contribute to the transport and chemical sectors.

- The conflicts between economies and scale for biorefineries and costs of transporting feedstocks.

- What technologies are most suitable for the particular feedstocks of Irish agriculture.

- How lignocellulosic components will vary under different management scenarios, hence suggest codes of best practice for the production and use of feedstocks most suitable for biorefining.

- How the production of dedicated energy crops and the utilisation of agricultural residues for biorefineries can provide a viable income for the farmer.

- Considerations of greenhouse gas and energy balances over the life cycle from field to wheel.

- Examine the effects on rural employment and the National Spatial Strategy

feedstocks


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Material/Downloads

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Summary Statistics

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Journal Articles

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Hayes, D. J. M. (2013) Second-generation biofuels: why they are taking so long, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment 2(3):304–334

Click for abstract
There has been a significant degree of hype regarding the commercial potential of second?generation biofuels (2GBs; biofuels sourced from lignocellulosic materials). In 2007, ambitious targets for the mass substitution of fossil?fuel?derived transport fuels by 2GBs were put forward in the United States and similar targets exist for other countries. However, as of May 2012, no commercial?scale 2GB facilities are currently operating. The technical and financial obstacles that have delayed the deployment of these facilities are discussed, as are recent advancements in research that may help to overcome some of these. There are six commercial?scale facilities currently (May, 2012) in construction and many more are planned in the near term. The prospects for 2GBs are more promising now than in the past but the delays in getting to this point mean that the ambitious targets of several years ago are unlikely to be reached in the near term.


Hayes, D. J. M. (2013) Mass and Compositional Changes, Relevant to Biorefining, in Miscanthus x giganteus Plants over the Harvest Window , Bioresource Technology 142:591–602

Click for abstract
Miscanthus plants were sampled from several plantations in Ireland over the harvest window (October-April). These were separated into their anatomical components and the loss of leaves monitored. Three distinct phases were apparent: there was minimal loss in the “Early” (October to early December) and “Late” (March and April) phases, and rapid leaf loss in the interim period. Samples were analysed for constituents relevant to biorefining. Changes in whole-plant composition included increases in glucose and Klason lignin contents and decreases in ash and arabinose contents. These changes arose mostly from the loss of leaves, but there were some changes over time within the harvestable plant components. Although leaves yield less biofuel than stems, the added biomass provided by an early harvest (31.9 to 38.4%) meant that per hectare biofuel yields were significantly greater (up to 29.3%) than in a late harvest. These yields greatly exceed those from first generation feedstocks.


Hayes, D. J. M. (2012) Development of near infrared spectroscopy models for the quantitative prediction of the lignocellulosic components of wet Miscanthus samples, Bioresource Technology 119:393-405

Click for abstract
Miscanthus samples were scanned over the visible and near infrared wavelengths at several stages of processing (wet-chopped, air-dried, dried and ground, and dried and sieved). Models were developed to predict lignocellulosic and elemental constituents based on these spectra. The dry and sieved scans gave the most accurate models; however the wet-chopped models for glucose, xylose, and Klason lignin provided excellent accuracies with root mean square error of predictions of 1.27%, 0.54%, and 0.93%, respectively. These models can be suitable for most applications. The wet models for arabinose, Klason lignin, acid soluble lignin, ash, extractives, rhamnose, acid insoluble residue, and nitrogen tended to have lower R2 values (0.80+) for the validation sets and the wet models for galactose, mannose, and acid insoluble ash were less accurate, only having value for rough sample screening. This research shows the potential for online analysis at biorefineries for the major lignocellulosic constituents of interest.

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Hayes, D. J.Hayes, M. H. B. (2009) The role that lignocellulosic feedstocks and various biorefining technologies can play in meeting Ireland’s biofuel targets, Biofpr 3(5):500-520

Click for abstract
This paper considers the contribution that biorefineries, through the production of second-generation biofuels from lignocellulosic feedstocks, can make in the Republic of Ireland to the mandated 10% transport biofuel quotient for 2020. An emphasis is placed on the avoidance of land-use conflict issues and, hence, on the prioritization of waste/residue utilization before dedicated energy crops are grown. It is concluded that up to 5.3% of the 2010 demand for biofuels can be met from the utilization of feasible quantities of wastes and residues in near-term biorefining technologies and that 5% of the 2020 petrol and diesel demand can be met via processing a similar quantity of waste in advanced biorefining processes based on consolidated bioprocessing micro-organisms and syngas-reforming catalysts. The remaining biofuel requirements for 2020 can be met by processing energy crops. Between 1.4% and 15.9% of the agricultural area of Ireland is required for the production of these crops, depending on the particular feedstock and technology employed. The production of a high-yielding Miscanthus crop that is harvested directly after senescence will place the minimum requirement on Irish land.

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Hayes, D. J. (2008) An Examination of Biorefining Processes, Catalysts and Challenges, Catalysis Today 145(1-2):138-151

Click for abstract
Biofuels offer the potential to substitute for a large proportion of fossil fuels, however it is considered that the utilisation of lignocellulosic biomass, via second-generation biorefining technologies, will be necessary for this to be achieved economically and sustainably. The lignocellulosic matrix is complex and recalcitrant to conversion but research in biorefining is advancing rapidly and commercial facilities are expected in the near-term. These facilities will either employ hydrolytic mechanisms to break apart the structural polysaccharides of the biomass, or thermochemical procedures to dehydrate and volatilise the feedstock. Catalysts serve vital roles in both approaches: acids and enzymes facilitate the hydrolysis of cellulose; while metal and biological catalysts can alter the volatilisation profiles of biomass or reform the gases that are liberated in the thermochemical process. Each potential biorefining technology currently has its own drawbacks and advantages and it is likely that a range of procedures will be needed in order to fully exploit the values of very diverse ranges of lignocellulosic feedstocks.

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Personnel Involved

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Post-Doc

Post Doc. working on the analysis of biomass and the development of Near Infrared Spectroscopy as a primary analytical tool. Has a leading role in the DIBANET project.


Adjunct Professor

Expertise in soil and carbohydrate chemistry. Has lectured extensively on biorefining and biochar.


Senior Lecturer

An expert in analytical chemistry, biodiesel, and biomass combustion, pyrolysis, and gasification. Member of the Charles Parsons Initiative.


News Articles

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04 Dec 2012

Review of the Commercial Prospects of Second Generation Biofuels Available Online

A new review paper by Carbolea member Daniel Hayes entitled "Second-generation biofuels: why they are taking so long" has been published online.

Abstract:
There has been a significant degree of hype regarding the commercial potential of second-generation biofuels (2GBs; biofuels sourced from lignocellulosic materials). In 2007, ambitious targets for the mass substitution of fossil-fuel-derived transport fuels by 2GBs were put forward in the United States and similar targets exist for other countries. However, as of May 2012, no commercial-scale 2GB facilities are currently operating. The technical and financial obstacles that have delayed the deployment of these facilities are discussed, as are recent advancements in research that may help to overcome some of these. There are six commercial?scale facilities currently (May, 2012) in construction and many more are planned in the near term. The prospects for 2GBs are more promising now than in the past but the delays in getting to this point mean that the ambitious targets of several years ago are unlikely to be reached in the near term.


03 Sep 2012

Miscanthus Analytical Database Software Available for Download

A detailed electronic database of the analysis carried out on Miscanthus samples in the Carbolea laboratories can now be downloaded for free from Carbolea. This Database is an output of a project funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It allows for comparisons to be made regarding the changes in relative mass proportions of different plant fractions (e.g. stems and leaves) over the course of a harvest window and also for observations on how the chemical composition varies over this period and within different parts of the plant.


05 Jul 2012

Paper Published on the Near Infrared Analysis of Miscanthus

A paper has been published containing the development of near infrared spectroscopy models for the quantitative prediction of the lignocellulosic constituents of wet Miscanthus samples. This work was carried out under a Department of Agriculture funded project and the DIBANET project. The paper can be accessed at ScienceDirect or downloaded directly from Carbolea (the supplemental material can be accessed here).

Abstract: Miscanthus samples were scanned over the visible and near infrared wavelengths at several stages of processing (wet-chopped, air-dried, dried and ground, and dried and sieved). Models were developed to predict lignocellulosic and elemental constituents based on these spectra. The dry and sieved scans gave the most accurate models; however the wet-chopped models for glucose, xylose, and Klason lignin provided excellent accuracies with root mean square error of predictions of 1.27%, 0.54%, and 0.93%, respectively. These models can be suitable for most applications. The wet models for arabinose, Klason lignin, acid soluble lignin, ash, extractives, rhamnose, acid insoluble residue, and nitrogen tended to have lower R2 values (0.80+) for the validation sets and the wet models for galactose, mannose, and acid insoluble ash were less accurate, only having value for rough sample screening. This research shows the potential for online analysis at biorefineries for the major lignocellulosic constituents of interest.


16 Feb 2010

Members Attend "Energy Crops Technical information Day"

Daniel Hayes and Mark Ashworth attended the "Energy Crops Technical Information Day" event organised by Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (DAFF). This event also included a demonstration of several energy crop harvesters in action at the Oak Park Tegaasc Research Centre in Carlow. There is a particular interest in Miscanthus and short rotation coppices in Ireland as energy crops and Carbolea has ongoing projects in which these energy crops, Miscanthus in particular, are being utilised. One of these projects is funded by DAFF.


02 Oct 2009

Project Update: Analysis and Evaluation of Irish Agricultural Products for Biroefining

Today the webpage detailing the research project funded by the Department of Agriculture's Research Stimulus fund has been updated. The update includes a list of all of the samples that have beem collected, processed and analysed to date as well as particular observations concerning Miscanthus x giganteus, which is a particularly attractive energy crop for Ireland. Daniel Hayes is the person with most involvement in this area. More details can be found on the appropriate webpage.


25 Sep 2009

Carbolea Booth at IRCSET 2009 Symposium

Carbolea today occupied one of the four display booths at the IRCSET 2009 Symposium "Innovation Fuelling the Smart Society". The booth displayed a slide show and posters representing many of Carbolea's current projects. These posters included:

"Biomass Pyrolysis and Gasification and Their Applications" by Witold Kwapinski

"DIBANET - Development of Integrated Biomass Approaches Network" by Corinna Byrne

"Analysis of Biomass Feedstocks and Evaluation of Suitability for Biorefining and Pyrolysis Schemes" by Daniel Hayes

"Pyrolysis of Biomass to produce Bio-Oil" by Fergus Melligan

"Enhancements of Soil Fertility from Biochar Amendments" by Katerina Kryachko

Much of Daniel Hayes's PhD work was funded by IRCSET.


23 Sep 2009

Resarch Areas Update: Biorefining and Second Generation Biofuels

The webpage detailing the background to biorefining and second generation biofuels has been updated. There is now more detail on the various types of technologies and diagrams detailing these. Please refer to the appropriate webpage for more information.


23 Sep 2009

Daniel Hayes and Corinna Byrne Attend Environment Ireland 2009

Daniel Hayes and Corinna Byrne attended the 5th Annual Enviornment Ireland Conference (2009), at Croke Park, Dublin. There were several topics of interest at this conference, particularly the presentations relating to future strategies to deal with wastes. Carbolea research projects consider waste feedstocks as a priority and we are continually looking at advanced processes for getting maximal value from this resource while minimising greenhouse gas emissions.


13 Apr 2008

Biomass Conversion Conference Attended in Krakow

Katerina Kryachko, Witold Kwapinski, Dmitri Bulushev and Daniel Hayes attended the ERA Chemistry workshop, entitled “Chemistry of raw material change/chemical transformation of biomass” in Krakow, Poland. This was a very useful event which involved presentations and discussions concerning numerous areas of biomass conversion. The following articles that were presented at this conference can be downloaded here:

Daniel Hayes - "An Outline of Work by Carbolea and the Biofine Process"

Dmitri Bulushev - "Some applications of bio-oil and chemicals production"

Katerina Kryachko - "Investigations of methods of recovery products from Biofine Process and their applications"




 

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