An innovative technological solution for the utilization of unprocessed residual biomass for energy purposes, on a local scale, was developed by the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh). The 10-year survey was conducted at the Foundation’s Applied Thermodynamics Laboratory (LAT).
This solution will be aimed at Mediterranean wineries for a start. At a later stage, the technology will also be aimed at other markets, such as breweries, olive oil mills, rice processing industries, poultry farms, biological cleaning and so on. The first data has showed that units of 20 kWel can lead to very significant reductions in both energy costs and waste management costs as well as repayment periods of less than 3-4 years.
Since 2012, the laboratory has implemented the development of a prototype power unit of 5 kW (+ 12kW heat) within the framework of the LIFE08/ENV/GR/000576 SMARt-CHP (SMARt-CHP) research programme.
The prototype unit has the potential to utilize unprocessed residual biomass by combining fluidized bed gasification technology with a cogeneration system suitably modified to utilize the gas produced, while anti-fouling vehicle technology was applied for the purification of the gas produced which was studied in previous years in the Laboratory of Applied Thermodynamics (LAT), a world-class laboratory on this research field.
The original unit has operated for more than 3,000 hours, utilizing residues (pits, shells and so on) from grapes, olives, peaches, almonds, etc., while the research work has been awarded as one of the best LIFE projects, receiving the ”2013 Best LIFE Environment Projects Award”.
BIO2CHP: Spin-off company for the implementation of innovation
Modern agri-food industries consume high amounts of energy, while at the same time they produce a large quantity of organic residues, which they currently manage as waste. Available technologies for the energy recovery of organic residues are either economically viable only on large scale facilities, thus they are not suitable for the needs of individual industries, or require high levels of pretreatment of the fuel, increasing in this way the operating costs of any solution dramatically.
The team of scientists (Dimitris Mertzis, Dr. Mechanical Engineer AUTh, Stefanos Tsiakmakis, Dr. Mechanical Engineer AUTh, Professor Zissis Samaras, Department of Mechanical Engineering AUTh), has proceeded with the foundation of BIO2CHP, a spin-off company of AUTH.
BIO2CHP aims to develop and commercialize power plants that use non-pretreated residual biomass for the co-generation of electricity and heat, on a small scale and locally.