Danish biorefining team unveils plan to boost biomass supply

By Luke Geiver | July 02, 2012

A biorefining-focused collaboration between two Denmark universities has created a plan to increase the amount of available biomass in the region through a report titled, “The Ten-Million-Tonne Plan.” Because the region is interested in establishing a biorefining sector to replace everything from fuels to chemicals, the team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University has outlined a series of steps to increase usable biomass by 200 percent.

“It sounds too good to be true,” said Morten Gyling, senior adviser at University of Copenhagen, “but it is quite realistic.” By 2020, the research team believes the region can produce an extra 10 million metric tons of biomass without affecting the production of food or feed. To accomplish that, the research team proposes the following steps:

-Increase the recovery of straw from fields by 15 percent through harvesting machinery improvements.

-Convert cropping systems to longer growing, perennial based crops such as willow or grass to double crop yields per hectare. Doing so, the researchers said, will also reduce nitrate leaching.

-Increase forest growth by implementing faster growing trees

-Harvest biomass from road verges (parking strip) and lowland meadows.

-Better utilization of livestock waste

By implementing those steps to create 10 million more metric tons of biomass, Claus Felby, professor at University of Copenhagen, said the Danish biorefinery sector would create 20,000 new jobs. But that’s not all. That amount of biomass, “actually corresponds to 20 percent of our current consumption of natural gas and to 30-50 percent of our consumption of petroleum and diesel,” Felby said. “To this should be added a significantly higher feed production that to a large extent will be able to replace what we currently import from countries such as South America.”

Dong Energy is also working with the research teams. The researchers will provide more information on their work during a presentation at Aarhus University in September.