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COMBINE: Converting Organic Matters from European urban and natural areas into storable bio-Energy (COMBINE)
Start date: May 31, 2011, End date: Jun 29, 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The utilisation and development of environmentally friendly technologies are key factors for the achievement of the ambitious aims of EU to increase the share of renewable energies. The ener-getic utilisation of biomass has an important role. as in contrast to other renewables (wind/PV). biomass is storable and it is possible to produce storable bio-fuels. However. at present the energy production from biomass is often economically inefficient. e.g. through an insufficient utilization of waste heat in conventional biogas plants. The conventional production of biomass for biogas plants is often eco-inefficient. e.g. due to the dominance of maize and the increased risk of soil erosion and nutrient losses. The competition with food-production on fertile land and the resulting increase of prices for land and agricultural products causes ethical and socio-economic problems. Hence COMBINE aims at opening-up of abandoned urban. natural and agricultural areas for the energy production. In the 4 partner regions the COMBINE project strives for this by: • Production of a storable solid fuel with a highly energy-efficient process • Utilization of biomass from extensively used grassland areas and landscape management. which can neither be used in animal feeding nor in conventional energetic conversion technolo-gies • Increasing the efficiency of biomass supply chains. through the addition of a year-round heat sink in distributed biogas or AD plants and by new harvesting and conditioning techniques. • Creating new energy supply chains from biomasses in the project regions and beyond • Securing livelihood for small farmers and disadvantaged persons in retreated areas through the creation of new income sources and regional added values with renewable energy production • Contribution to reducing the conflict between bio-energy and food production by exploring and utilisation of new raw materials. Achievements: The technology IFBB "Integrated Generation of Solid Fuel and Biogas from Biomass" has been demonstrated by means of the mobile plant - the blue Conrad specifically constructed to investigate the viability of using different kinds of crops (semi-natural grasslands, road side verges, rushes, etc.) often perceived as problem habitats. The aim is to find out whether these crops can be used to manufacture viable biomass fuel with a multitude of economic, environmental and social benefits.First test runs in the partners regions have been carried out in Wales, UK and at the Lake Constance, DE, where open days were organised. During these events experts took a look at the transportable IFBB plant. An adapted version of this could be used by (cooperatives of) farmers in future. Inside its blue box exterior, blue Conrad washes problematic mineral content from material before pressing it for use as fuel. This unique pre-treatment process means that carbon emissions and ash content are reduced.Two further regions across Europe (BE, FR) are trialling the technology, where roadside verges are being tested for their potential to be turned into pellets or briquettes.In addition, biomass has been harvested at all partner sites, silaged and sent to the large-scale sedentary IFBB plant in Baden-Baden for test processing. Various experiments have been performed to optimise the production process: different mixing quantities of processed biomass, different pressure levels for dewatering the silage, different mash production durations, variations of the pressure level at the briquette production to minimise abrasion. Gains in the biogas production were monitored during these experiments. Also, experiments have been performed for sand removal of the delivered biomass. The processing was scientifically supervised by experts of Uni Kassel. They will analyse the results in the coming months, incl. combustion tests for the solid fuels produced during the experiments.Uni Gent has conducted thermo-chemical experiments with the biomass. IFBB treated roadside verges and other cuttings were heated under an oxygen free atmosphere up to 600°C. The analysis of the resulting oil and char will start in September 2014.The Belgian partner Inagro has performed biogas testing on lignin content and grass quality. Field trials on logistics and mowing have been completed. The gathered data will be used to develop a regional exploration plan.The Belgian partners investigated the simulations and mass balances and transformed them to a Flemish model, estimating the biogas potential and other characteristics of Flemish grass. This will give a clearer view on the feasibility of an IFBB installation in Flanders.The Uni Kassel has continued the field experiments about the use of urban road side green. The productivity of this kind of waste biomass was analysed depending on the mowing rate. Also the contamination of the IFBB processed biomass by heavy metals was determined. In most cases this kind of possible contamination was below the detection threshold. Thus, it can be concluded that this kind of biomass is in general suitable for energetic utilisation. Two research letters were published about these topics. Therefore the current stage of research associated with COMBINE predicts that contamination of urban grass biomass by heavy metals is no serious problem.Documents:- General project information - File Download

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