innovation for renovation
Processes transforming vegetable biomass into energy have long being used on an industrial scale with a variety of technologies. Energy can be achieved from solid biomass through direct combustion, or by extracting gaseous or liquid fuel therefrom by means of gasification or pyrolysis. Plants producing biogas from fermentable biomass through anaerobic digestion are now widespread. Oil crops like palm, rapeseed, sunflower, soybean can be crushed into liquid fuel for direct combustion, for use in endothermic engines or either to produce biodiesel by means of esterification.
Asja is working on many fronts to develop biomass-to electricity processes:
Asja has already set up the first vegetable oil fed cogeneration plant; in this field, research is targeted at improving technologies for generating energy and treating/purifying burning oils.
Asja is engaged in optimizing treatment processes for biomass of different origins such as agri-food industry waste and the organic fraction of urban solid waste. Moreover, innovative processes like “dark fermentation” which can lead to hydrogen production and to enhanced energy efficiency for the whole production cycle are currently being tested.
Energy can be generated from woody/cellulosic biomass by means of well established technologies whereby biomass is directly combusted and used through ORC (Organic Rankine Cycle) turbines, or by means of gasification. Asja is also interested in testing and seeking agronomic optimization of biomass-producing crops. Special focus is given to Short Rotation Forestry, that is short-cycle tree crops such as poplar, willow, robinia, eucalyptus or pauwlonia, or annual grass crops like miscanthus , switchgrass, wild cane, thistle and fiber sorghum.
Amongst the most innovative energetic biomass which are somehow in a less advanced stage of development, algae are certainly interesting and hold great potential, for a number of reasons including: