Our competences

Photo: Manuel Gutjahr

WG Process engineering for energy crops

The Process Engineering for Energy Crops working group conducts research along the entire process chain from cultivation, harvesting, storage and processing to the energetic and material utilisation of agricultural biomass.

This is based on many years of expertise, particularly in the production of agricultural wood (poplars, willows and black locust trees) in short-rotation plantations and agroforestry systems, as well as in the harvesting and utilisation of landscape management material.

Another current focus of research is the raw material-specific development of process chains for the utilisation of biomass from wetland (see 'Our Topics' - Paludiculture). The rewetting of agriculturally used fen soils to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture represents an important component in achieving national climate protection goals. For this purpose, we are developing sustainable utilisation concepts and value chains for innovative products such as substitutes for peat, fibres for sustainable packaging or biochar from wet wetland biomass. This work is carried out in close cooperation with numerous partners from research, agriculture, administration and industry in national and European pilot, model and demonstration projects.

Regarding basic research, we are investigating in the field of agricultural biomass production the complex interrelationships between land management, resource requirements, yield, raw material properties, nutrient and carbon flows and biodiversity.

Findings from this research form the basis for the development of reduced-loss and quality-assuring processes for raw material storage, the development of new processes for the utilisation-specific preparation of lignocellulose into fibrous materials and the modelling of individual process stages. In this context, we also address issues of applying artificial intelligence to analyse biomass stocks and of developing digital twins for agroforestry systems to model carbon storage and biodiversity in 4D.

Research facilities

The ATB has approx. 30 hectares of experimental plantations, specific technology for harvesting and storing lignocellulose-containing biomass from agriculture, laboratories for the analysis of raw material and product properties and also a pilot plant for the processing of lignocellulose into fibers, pellets, briquettes and board materials. The energetic utilization of the wood chips produced within the scope of practical tests takes place in the institute's own 500 kW wood chip heating plant.

More information on our Youtube Channal (in German):
Video  'Fast' Wood from the field for climate neutral heating
Video  'Agroforestry systems'

Group leader

Dr.-Ing. Pecenka, Ralf

Work group leader Process Engineering for Energy Crops

Department: System Process Engineering

Email: RPecenka@spam.atb-potsdam.de

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