Grassification

A house made from roadside grass fibres, sustainable energy generated from roadside grass, more sustainable and cheaper roadside management. Science fiction or reality? Within the Interreg 2Seas GRASSIFICATION project, research institutes, land managers and industrial partners are examining the possibilities to create economically viable business cases for these and other applications starting from roadside clippings.

Over a period of 3 years, 13 partners from the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium will investigate potential value-chains (from roadside management to novel products) to maximally valorise novel end-products. This research will initiate a new bio-based circular economy, based upon roadside grass clippings.

About the project  

The overall objective of the Grassification project is to apply a multi-dimensional approach to the valorisation of roadside grass clippings in order to optimize it into a viable value-chain for the biobased and circular economy. The project aims to optimize logistics and technical aspects of the grass clippings supply chain and processing, demonstrate its market potential as well as formulate policy and legal recommendations to create a more supportive framework for the recycling of this renewable resource.

These actions will increase the volume of usable material, lower costs, and generate a higher added-value for this so called ‘waste’ streams, which eventually will result in a higher market value of the industry. In this way, the use of roadside grass clippings as a renewable resource for the production of biobased products and hence the circular economy will become more attractive.  

 

Commercial outcomes

For achieving these goals, the Grassification project will have, as main outputs:

  • A novel mowing head aiming at improving the quality and reducing the sand content of the grass clippings
  • Technology tested for decentralized biogas production from the co-digestion of grass clippings with other feedstocks
  • Technology tested for bulk processing of grass into biogas
  • Products made out of grass fibers, such as a picnic set, stepping stones and insulation panels
  • Report on possible applications of the liquid fraction of grass
  • Model developed for joint procurement and performance contracting
  • Techno-economic assessment of the most promising value-chains
  • Supply chain optimization model
  • Policy roadmap

The stakeholders benefitting from these outputs are: road and land managers, SMEs and large entreprises, research institutes and centers, policy makers, and other stakeholders like e.g. the building sector for applications of bio-composite load bearing structures.

 

STAKEHOLDERS CORNER

 

Period
2018-2021
Status
active
Budget
4 421 681 €
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Grassification tests new mowing head

Roadside grass clippings are a problem fraction throughout the 2 Seas Programme area due to their high volume, subject to high processing costs. The industrial sector, however, is interested in the possibility of using roadside grass clippings as an alternative resource for the production of energy and bio-materials.

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Workshop Grassification: roadside grass as raw material?

On June 18 Grassification organized a demonstration and workshop in Maldegem. Stakeholders came together to compare the clippings of two different cutting heads and to view the refining of the grass by pressing. Various applications were also discussed for the grass fibers and grass juice. 

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Research project for applications with roadside cuttings

The West Flanders Province participates in the European 'Grassification' project. Within that project, applications are being sought to upgrade roadside grass / roadside grass into raw materials.

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Silage verge grass

At the end of October, roadside grass was cut in Harelbeke as part of the Interreg Grassification project. 

That verge cuttings were then ensiled on Inagro for storage and feeding in the anaerobic digester in a few months.

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Bulk biogas production from grass

Biogas production from grass is possible, but it suffers from several technical hurdles like litter and sand content, floating layers and fibers getting caught in the digester’s impellers. Therefore, the GRASSIFICATION project is proposing a low-cost, bulk cell for biogas production from roadside grass clippings.

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Verge managing experiments in the UK

Currently in the UK, road verges are cut and the grass is left on the verge, in contrast to many other European countries where the grass is cut and collected. This means that large volumes of grass that could possibly be used as a feedstock for energy and products simply goes to waste.

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Biorefinery Glas – A Farmer-centric Bioeconomy Approach

Over the last 12 months, Biorefinery Glas, one of Europe’s first small-scale biorefinery demonstration projects, has been working with farmers in Ireland to show how new products and revenue streams can be created using a new farmer-centric bioeconomy approach. 

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Gramitherm - Insulation panels made out of grass!

Gramitherm is currently the only company - worldwide - to manufacture thermal insulation panels using prairie grass. This involves a patented Swiss technology that was launched in 2006 and that Gramitherm took over in 2014. Gramitherm has excellent performance standards, one of which is to have a negative carbon balance!

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Go for Grass

During this year's EU Green Week 2020, which aims to emphasise the contribution biodiversity can make to society and the economy, the GO-GRASS project will shed light on the overlooked potential of grasslands during the online event ‘Go for Grass: exploiting grassland potential in the EU Circular economy’, that will take place on 22 October 2020.

GRASSIFICATION will be presenting some of its results at the 11h30 session!

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Stakeholder survey on grass fiber quality requirements

What is the quality of roadside clippings that can be delivered by the organizations responsible for mowing and handling roadside grass? And what is the quality of grass clippings that can be used by companies that refine grass clippings and other plant fibers?

WE NEED YOUR HELP! to establish a viable value chain for grass clippings within the Interreg 2-seas Grassification project.

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GRASS2ALGAE – Recycling nutrient from grass clippings for the production of circular proteins

Due to the promising results obtained in Grassification with the use of grass juice for microalgae growth, UGhent, together with 3 farmers, 2 companies and another research/higher education institute, has successfully started an Operational Group called Grass2Algae. This is funded by the Flemish Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and will run through 2021 to further investigate this innovative process for nutrient recycling.

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Outcomes of the webinar on valorisation of roadside grass cuttings

The Grassification project aims to turn the roadside cuttings from waste into a resource. The current valorization route is composting in the best case, but also non-legal practices like rotting alongside the roads is a common practice. Recently, the consortium held a webinar on the valorisation of roadside grass cuttings to explore new and feasibile solutions. 

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Roadside cuttings, the raw material of the future?

Mowing roadsides is an important part of the maintenance of the infrastructure for every road authority. Currently, roadsides are mowed mainly to ensure the safety of the road user. However, there is a lot of life to be found in our roadsides. To protect this biodiversity, we can mow at specific times and remove the clippings. This logistical operation of mowing, removing and processing involves a considerable cost for the roadside manager. But what if we consider the grass clippings as a raw material and not as a waste stream?

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Outcomes of the webinar on Anaerobic Co-digestion for roadside grass clippings

The Grassification project aims to explore the potential of roadside grass clippings, transforming them from waste into a valuable resource. During this webinar, project partners discussed the use of roadside grass cuttings as feedstock for energy and how this value chain can be developed further.

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Grassification Final Activities

Even though the Grassification project will end on November, 2021, the project partners still have some exciting developments being carried out in these final months to make sure we cover the maximum amount of aspects to enable the use of roadside grass clippings as a resource!

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Outcomes of the Grassification webinar on novel-end products from grass fibres

The Grassification project is aimed at valorizing roadside grass clippings as renewable feedstock in industrial processes and demonstrating the economic potential for products resulting from its refining. During the webinar, project partners showcased the possibilities and feasibility of producing different building materials and landscape infrastructures from grass fibres. Not only results from the project were presented, but also interesting practices from the market.

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Press release - Grassification demoday

The online Grassification demo day 'Bermen maaien = Grondstoffen oogsten' took place on 24 June. The webinar discussed opportunities and challenges to deploy roadside grass clippings within a transition to a circular bio-based economy.

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Deliverable 1.1.1 Support development new type mowing head aimed at minimising dirt content via a co-creation strategy

Within the Grassification project a set of quality criteria for alternate uses of grass biomass will be discussed and will be provided to equipment developers & field-test equipment as developed by machine builders to serve the needs of biomass refinery processes.

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Deliverable 1.1.2 Report: Testing & comparison of performance new type of mowing head against existing mowing heads

An important goal within the Grassification project is to use road side cuttings as feedstock for material and energy. To serve that goal the Grassification project started the development of a new type mowing head in cooperation with the different partners to work towards a quality of grass cuttings useful as material and/or energy application. 

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D2.3.1 Assessment of the potential of protein extraction and protein production (insects and microalgae) from the liquid fraction

This report describes the results of direct extraction of proteins or producing protein-rich insects and microalgae using the liquid fraction as nutrient source.

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Deliverable 2.4.1 Production fibre pellets from roadside clippings as half-finished product for biocomposite production

Pro Natura, Hogeschool Gent, Millvision, Delphy and Innec will jointly develop & demonstrate a production method for fibre pellets to be used as half-finished product for biocomposite production.

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Deliverable 3.1.1. Market study

The Grassification project assesses the viability of innovative verge grass value chains by means of a techno-economic assessment (TEA). The goal of this market study is to address the market trends, related prices, competitive processes and applications of the most promising Grassification value chains.

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D1.3.1 System design and preparation

This 200 t pilot will allow processing and valorisation of low quality grass wastes that are unsuitable for refining. Biogas yield and conversion into renewable heat and electricity obtained from treated grass waste will be measured through gass flow analysis.

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D1.2.1 Development of a general outline for a joint public procurement process

It is estimated that around 350k tonnes of road side grass clippings are generated annually in Flanders alone. Valorising (even partly) this amount of roadside grass clippings could prove to be a tremendous environmental and economic boon. Within this deliverable the Grassification partners have put together a template for a joint procurement process.

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D 1.4.1. Co-digestion of roadside grass with VeDoWS manure and pig slurry

An exploratory digestion test on pilot-scale was conducted in the installation of Inagro to determine whether verge grass can be digested (20 v/v %) in co-digestion with VeDoWS manure and pig slurry and whether this can lead to a stable digestion process.

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D 2.4.3 Use of biocomposites of biopolymers and roadside clippings for prototype products (e.g. landscape infrastructure)

Hogeschool Gent, Provincie West-Vlaanderen, Pro Natura, Millvision, Delphy, Stichting Avans and Innec are jointly developing, testing and demonstrating several bio-composite products using fibres from roadside clippings. These products will be tested and demonstrated in lab and real-life demos.

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D3.1.2-3.1.4 and D3.2.4 Techno-Economic Assessment of Agricultural digester

In this report project partners specifically evaluate the sustainability of using roadside grass as feedstock for digestion. The report compares a base case in which roadside grass is digested together with pig slurry and VeDoWS manure in a pocket digester, with two reference cases. 

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Stakeholders' corner

We are pleased to invite you to be part of the Grassification platform, which will function as a knowledge database for all Grassification stakeholders.

This platform will offer you the opportunity to get the first access to project's deliverables and results as well as to receive first-hand invitations to our events.

Your participation is voluntary and free of charge. Your data will be treated according to the EU General Data Protection Regulation and for the project's purposes only.

Contacts

PROJECT COORDINATOR

Dr. Erik Meers

Ghent University Laboratory of
Analytical Chemistry and Applied Ecochemistry

Ghent – Belgium
info@biorefine.eu

Phone: +32 9 264 93 96

 

 

 

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