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Analysis of Irish Wastes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

epandp

ssti

Summary

The EPA STRIVE program has funded a project at Carbolea that will involve the collection, preparation and analysis (via wet chemical and NIR methods) of a variety of lignocelluosic wastes that may offer value for biorefining activity.

Daniel Hayes conducted a comprehensive literature review that informed the need for this project. He became aware of the critical lack of relevant lignocellulosic data for the waste materials produced in the Irish sector. Indeed, this is not only a problem in the Irish context. The data that do exist internationally are typically based on gravimetric methods that approximate cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, however such methods may be extremely inaccurate in feedstocks as heterogeneous as MSW and some agricultural residues (e.g. spent mushroom compost) which are likely to contain a lot of carbohydrate degradation products and lignoproteins. Also, the analytical protocol suggested here will differentiate between the various hemicellulosic sugars. This is important since these will be processed to different end products with varying efficiencies in biorefining schemes.

The chemical database of lignocellulosic feedstocks that will result from this project will be published on the Carbolea website as they become available during the project. These data will be of immense value in predicting yields for various processes and will inform numerous other researchers of appropriate feedstocks for further study (e.g. for trials in pilot schemes). Hence, the project can aid the development of an increased research capacity across the bioenergy sector as encouraged in the Bioenergy Action Plan for Ireland. It will also play a role in meeting the research objectives outlined by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research [50], in particular those in Phase 1 (until 2010 - R&D into second generation biofuels from ligno-cellulosic biomass; R&D into the biorefinery concept). This report emphasised the need for increased and continued expenditure on research in second generation biofuels, feedstocks and processes.

The project, entitled "The laboratory analysis of Irish municipal and agricultural biomass wastes and evaluation of their utilisation in biorefining technologies", has the following objectives:

  • Collate existing data concerning the arisings of various fractions of biodegradable wastes in Ireland. Collect samples of all of these waste fractions, under various conditions.

  • Analyse these in the lab for lignocellulosic components, and heating values. Publish these data so that they may be used by researchers and policy makers.

  • Account/evaluate biorefineries as to their technical suitability for waste feedstocks, obtain a subset of feasible biorefineries.

  • With these biorefineries, determine the quantities of chemicals and biofuels that can be obtained from each waste feedstock using the compositional data obtained earlier. Determine supply curves for these according to cost.

  • Hence, calculate the extent to which biorefineries processing wastes can meet national/European targets (particularly the 10% biofuels quotient for 2020).

  • Rank biorefineies among various waste treatment strategies and biofuel production schemes according to: revenue potential, effect on greenhouse gas balance (full LCA), energy balance, ability to meet targets sustainably.

  • Develop codes of best practice for the sourcing, handling and processing of wastes in biorefineries that will allow yields to be maximised and costs, environmental-impacts minimised.

The following feedstocks are being analysed in this project:

    • Animal Excreta

      • Dairy Cattle

      • Beef Cattle

      • Pigs

      • Poultry Litter

    • Other Agricultural Residues

      • Straws

      • Spent Mushroom Composts

    • Municipal Wastes

      • Fresh and composted Green Waste

      • Biodegradeable component of "black-bin bags"

      • "Brown Bin" waste

      • The various components of black bins according to classifications outlined in previous studies.

      • Various wastes from interested industrial/commercial parties.

    Any groups that have organic wastes that they would like to have analysed are advised to contact Daniel Hayes in order to determine whether sample collection and analysis could be arranged.

The Project has consulted with numerous industry stakeholders and project participants include:

Observations on Waste Feedstocks

The following section provides data obtained by Daniel Hayes concerning the arisings of a variety of Irish wastes. The chemical data that is provided is from secondary sources and will be updated with the primary data that will result from the project as these data are obtained.

Municipal Wastes

It has been estimated that, in 2005, a total of 3,050,052 tonnes (wet basis) of municipal solid waste (MSW) were generated in Ireland. Approximately 72% of this was biodegradable. The figure below categorises this biodegradable municipal waste (BMW), as well as other lignocellulosic wastes, and revises the figures to dry tonnes. BMW is composed of wood, various papers and cardboards, organics, and textiles.

biofpr_fig3

Municipal Waste Fractions

Wood: We have assumed that all of the wood waste accounted for is equivalent in composition to Sitka Spruce.

Waste Paper/Cardboard: We have assumed that 50% of all the paper/cardboard from the commercial sector is chemically and energetically equivalent to office paper, 40% is equivalent to cardboard and 10% to newspaper. The proportions will be shared equally between these three for the household sector. Due to their high carbohydrate and low lignin contents, these feedstocks are attractive for some hydrolysis technologies (although the CaCO3 filler in office paper may affect acid-catalysed hydrolysis) while their low heating values and ash and paper additives may cause problems in some gasification schemes. Approximately 67% of the recovered BMW in 2005 was paper and cardboard, however only 2.6% of this was recycled in Ireland, a drop from 31% in 2004 due to the closure of a paper mill. Ireland exported 387 kt (on an oven dry basis) of collected paper/cardboard, with 39.3% sent to the UK and 27.1% sent to Asia. The specific make-up of this paper/cardboard stream is not known, however it can be calculated from the data that 62.4% of it came from the commercial sector, with 37.6% coming from households.

Textiles: Textiles can be produced from petroleum, animal wools, or from plants such as cotton and flax. However, no reliable Irish data on the proportions of plants to the total mix were found, hence this resource is not accounted for.

 “Organic Waste”: This fraction can be considered to be the remaining BMW that is not paper, wood or textiles. This study assumes that this fraction is primarily composed of food waste and waste plant materials (either grasses/leaves or prunings).

Consideration of the Landfill Directive

The Landfill Directive sets progressive targets to reduce the amount of BMW land-filled, when compared against the baseline year of 1995. Ireland secured a four year postponement meaning that the first target, for 2010, is for a maximum of 75% of the quantity of BMW generated in 1995 to be landfilled. However Ireland is currently sending more BMW to landfill than in 1995, hence significant action will need to be taken. The final target of the Directive, in 2016, is for a maximum of 35% of the quantity of BMW generated in 1995 to be land-filled. This means that, using the 2005 BMW figures, approximately 856 kt will need to be diverted from landfill. Given that 430 kt is currently recovered, there is a potential resource of 426 kt for biorefining purposes.

Straws

In Ireland, the cereal straws are the most abundant. The low moisture contents of straws are beneficial for their efficient utilisation in thermochemical processes, however the presence of relatively high concentrations of such components as chlorine, potassium and sulphur may be problematic in certain reactors and catalytic systems. A potential solution to these inorganic components is to leave the straw on the field after cutting so they can be washed off by rain or to wash the straws at the biorefinery although such treatments may necessitate an additional drying step. Specific data for straw production in Ireland are lacking, hence these are estimated based on data for the harvested area and yields in 2006 (50) and on the straw/grain ratios for each feedstock. A total figure of 0.96 x 106 tonnes (on a dry basis) is calculated for the maximum harvestable straw available. The mushroom industry requires one tonne of straw per 2.5-3 tonnes of compost, meaning that a production of 290 kt of compost will require about 90 kt of (predominately wheat) straw, hence this figure is taken from the predicted total yield of wheat straws. Other current uses for straws are for animal feed and bedding or as a soil amendment. A recent study estimated that between 80 kt and 325 kt could be available for energy purposes.

Poultry Litter

A total of 40.4 x 106 tonnes (wet basis) of animal excreta were produced in Ireland in 2004. The majority came from cattle excreta and pig slurry which are considered unsuitable due to their high moisture contents and the seasonality of cattle excreta. However, poultry facility waste, which comprises the manure and litter base (straw, paper or wood shavings), may have potential. We estimate the composition of poultry litter as being equal to the weighted average of the compositions of poultry excreta and wheat straw, assuming a 70/30 dry mass ratio for these fractions. While the excreta is a relatively poor feedstock, due to its low carbohydrate content, low heating value, and high ash content, the contribution of the litter base (which has improved values regarding these properties) is beneficial. Total quantities of the resource are based on the numbers of each type of bird and their relative excreta production rates. Litter production is concentrated in the Border counties with over 64% arising in Co. Monaghan, alone. We have assumed that 154 kt (wet basis) of litter (excreta and base) were produced in the Republic and 132kt (wet basis) in Northern Ireland.  The mushroom industry uses poultry litter as a feedstock (approximately 25% by mass) for compost production, hence an average of 72.5 kt (wet basis) of litter per year will be needed. It is assumed that a similar proportion of poultry litter is used for mushroom production in Northern Ireland. Hence, with a moisture content of 30%, approximately 57 kt (dry basis) of litter are potentially available for biorefining purposes in the Republic with 49 kt (dry basis) in Northern Ireland. The cost is likely to be comparable (providing there is no competition) to the cost for the mushroom industry which has been estimated at approximately €17-18 per tonne (wet basis) delivered (52). The high ash content of this feedstock, however, may limit the number of feasible biorefining processes, however.

Spent Mushroom Compost

Spent mushroom compost (SMC) is the substrate remaining after mushroom production, with approximately 5 kg of SMC produced for each kg of mushrooms. In 2001 290 kt (wet basis, or 85 kt on a dry basis) of SMC were produced per annum, with 96% coming from the Border counties (including 70 kt, wet basis, from Co. Monaghan). The major feedstocks for mushroom compost in Ireland are straw, poultry litter, and peat but the chemical composition of the ultimate spent material will be significantly different from the composite of these due to the effects of the composting process and mushroom growth. There are limited relevant chemical data available on this feedstock; this paper uses the data of (67). The total carbohydrate figure used is attractive for such a low cost feedstock, indeed the polysaccharides could be particularly suitable substrates for hydrolysis given that the production of SMC can be considered as a form of pre-treatment. Extracellular lignocellulose-degrading enzymes that have been found to be produced by mushrooms include xylanases, cellulases and cellobiases. Furthermore, it was found that the hemicellulose content of wheat straw decreased, from 26.3% to 7.4% of dry mass, 120 days after inoculation with mycelium of Pleurotus ostreatus while cellulose content decreased from 45.3% to 34.1%. The reduction in cellulose crystallinity and the breakage in xylan-linkages during composting may facilitate higher sugar yields in hydrolysis technologies or reduce the severity of conditions needed. In contrast, the high moisture contents will eliminate soem processes while, as with poultry litter, the ash content will also be a limiting factor.

Forest and Sawmill Residues

Wood with a smaller diameter than 70 mm (branches and the tops of trees) is generally not harvested in roundwood operations. Depending on the age of the tree, the species, the tree-density and the wood/foliage mix, the amount of forest residues can vary from 50 to 100  tonnes per hectare on an oven dry basis. Spruce is the most abundant species in Irish forests and it produces approximately twice the amount of forest residues compared to pine and birch due to its long crown. It has been estimated that, with Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) harvested down to a diameter of 70 mm, forest residues (including needles) after clearfelling constitute about 30% of total above ground biomass. Pine and spruce woods are attractive feedstocks both in terms of total carbohydrate and heating value. The relatively low ash concentrations in wood also encourage their utilisation in acid hydrolysis and thermochemical processes.

In 2006 timber production in the Republic totalled 3.143 x 106 m3 (86% being harvested by Coillte) with approximately 2.176 x 106 m3 being used by sawmills. This is said to have resulted in the production of 1.079 x 106 m3 of sawmill residues. After subtracting the estimated amounts consumed by the panelboard mills - 218,000 m3 of bark, 46,000 m3 of woodchips, 110,000 m3 of sawdust and 218,000 m3 of bark remain. This is a total of 168 kt on an oven dry basis (assuming a density of 450 kg/m3 on an oven dry basis for all fractions). These residues can be exported, used in horticulture, or utilised for heat or electricity production.


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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):304334

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.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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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.


PhD Student

PhD Student. Has considerable experience in the fields of macroalgae, plant growth promotion and clays.


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.


16 Feb 2010

Letter Published in Irish Times

A letter written by Carbolea's Prof. Michael Hayes was today published in the Irish Times national newspaper. It concered the plans for the construction, in Poolbeg, Dublin, of a large incinerator to treat the muncipal wastes from the Dublin region that are currently sent to landfill. It argued that the incineration technology has been superceded by biorefining processes that can offer higher value products from their processing of waste materials. The full letter can be read on the Irish Times website or through this link on the Carbolea site.


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.


23 May 2008

Waste Evaluation Project Awared to Carbolea by the EPA

Carbolea has been awarded a grant under the EPA STRIVE program. The project will involve the detailed analysis and characterisation of various wastes (including industrial and municipal wastes) in order to ascertain their potential in various biorefining and/or pyrolysis technologies. Following this analysis these methods of waste treatment will be compared with more conventional processes such as landfill, incineration and anaerobic digestion. The project is expected to start in December 2008 and last one year. It will involve Daniel Hayes and Patrick Cross.


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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