PILOT BIOMASS PRETREATMENT PLANT

The plant was designed to test the main biomass pretreatment methods for valorisation in terms of renewable energy and the production of biogas, biohydrogen and bioethanol. The biomass materials that can be used are those rich in lignocellulose, starch, proteins and oleaginous biomass residue.
The treatments were chosen in order to promote the use of hydrolysis, to remove lignin and hemicellulose, reduce the cellulose crystallinity and increase the porosity of the materials.

OBJECTIVES

  1. Valorisation of the different types of organic waste
  2. Increase the use efficiency of the biomass materials for the production of biogas, biohydrogen or bioethanol
  3. Reduce the production costs of renewable energy

The pretreatment plant is made up of three process lines and a mechanical shredding system:

  1. Physico-chemical, based on the Steam Explosion (SE) process, possibly preceded by chemical conditioning, designed mostly for lignocellulosic biomass material;
  2. Chemical, based on acidic/basic hydrolysis, applied both directly to the biomass itself, especially that rich in starch and proteins, and to SE pretreated biomass, in the case of lignocellulosic material;
  3. Biological, based on enzymatic hydrolysis of SE treated biomass itself, on the separate fractions (hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin) and on other types of biomass.

MAIN CHARACTERISTICS
The plant was designed to:

  • Treat of different types of biomass
  • Treat in series and in parallel in order to choose the best combinations to increase process yield
  • Optimise cost-based process results

CHEMICO-BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY

In support of the treatment plant activities, a chemico-biological analysis laboratory has been set up, both for the characterisation of biomass materials entering the plants and for monitoring the development of the main parameters throughout the pretreatment and anaerobic digestion processes.
It is possible to carry out gas chromatography on the biogas produced by the anaerobic digesters, which determines the percentages of the main compounds of interest (methane, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, oxygen, nitrogen).
The gas analysis tools consist of 4 parallel gas chromatography columns, each for a specific compound category.

PILOT PLANT FOR THE PRODUCTION OF HYDROGEN AND BIOGAS FROM BIOMASS

With a view to producing hydrogen and biogas from renewable sources, a dark anaerobic fermentation plant was designed and created, that allows the exploitation of the natural ability of certain microorganisms to produce hydrogen and biogas, through metabolic reactions, from waste materials, such as organic fractions of waste and waste from agricultural and industrial processes.

MAIN CHARACTERISTICS

  • The pilot plant is made up of 2 digesters of 35l. and 250l. respectively, in order to evaluate the effects of scale
  • Possibility of controlling pH, redox potential and temperature
  • Continuous gas composition analysis via chromatography
  • The plant includes automatic controls and alarms to guarantee flexible and economical management.
  • Possibility of experimenting with different types of biomass and optimising hydrogen and biogas production

PHOTOBIOREACTOR FOR THE GROWTH OF MICROALGAE AND SEWAGE TREATMENT

The pilot plant was designed to test the growth kinetics of microalgae and assess the purification efficiency of sewage (animal manure, digestate etc.)

OBJECTIVES

  • Assess the denitrification efficiency of animal manure using the natural ability of algae in purification within a photobioreactor
  • Deal with problems related to the dispersion of livestock manure over areas of land;
  • Valorisation of by-products;
  • Optimisation of the photobioreactor yield;
  • Reduce the nitrogen compounds in the sewage;
  • Recover high added-value by-products (e.g. omega-3 fatty acids);
  • Improve the management of the digestate and the spendability of animal manure.