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Photo: ATB

Innovative products from marginal lands – BeonNAT opens up new value chains

Aim of the BeonNAT project is to create innovative value chains from tree and shrub species grown in marginal lands as a source of biomass for bio-based industries. After two years of work the project shows several advances on the case studies and the final products.

The project BeonNAT started in July 2020 with selecting two areas in each country and planting six species each. Subsequently, four species per country were picked, based on following chemical analyses to validate industrial applicability and a preliminary screening of the bioactivities demonstrated for industrial applications:

  • Spain: Ulmus pumila L. (Siberian elm), Juniperus communis L. (Common juniper), Cistus ladanifer L. (Mediterranean rockrose), Rosmarinus officinalis L. (Rosemary).
  • Germany: Betula pendula Roth (Birch tree), Cytisus scoparius (L.) Link (Common Broom), Robinia pseudoacacia L. (Black locust), Rubus fruticosus agg. (Blackberry).
  • Romania: Robinia pseudoacacia L. (Black locust), Carpinus betulus L. (Common hornbeam), Populus nigra L. (Black poplar), Betula pendula Roth (Birch tree).

The obtained biomass from the different species has been tested in order to assess its capacity to be used in the manufacturing of the final products.

As far as the assessment of the final products is concerned, the industrial partners are particularly interested in quantifying the extracts from some of these species; therefore, such analysis was included for Juniperus communis, Rosmarinus officinalis and Cistus ladanifer. Also, a detailed engineering of portable distillation unit has been accomplished.

ATBs core topic in BeonNAT was to produce lactic acid for assessing the suitability of bioplastics for bioactive cosmetics. Therefore Populus nigra from Zamostea (Romania) and Robinia pseudoacacia from Moara (Romania) has shown promising results. Ulmus pumila has been tested with results for commercial Activated Carbon, as well as for biochar. For this final product, Juniperus communis and is showing promising results.

Thus far Betula pendula, Cistus Ladanifer, Rosmarinus officinalis and Ulmus pumila have shown the most promising results for production of cat litter. The first assays for particle boards were also completed. Boards with low formaldehyde emissions were obtained from all the species, and some of them (especially those from some of the tree species) with good mechanical properties. In the case of the pulping assays, pulp was obtained for all species too, although in principle, J. Comunis, R. officinalis and R. fruticosus would be discarded for this use due to the poor properties of the pulp produced. The shrub species C. scoparius behaved surprisingly well for both products. Furthermore, the trials to test the species bioactive potential are currently on-going.

Despite the severe droughts all over Europe during the summer of 2022, which could have fatally damaged the crops, the case studies seem to be progressing well and producing the necessary biomass for the tests to be performed Assuming that the worst part of the pandemic period has elapsed, all project members have been able to physically attend live events, workshops to show the different advances of the project.

The next steps, from now on leading up to the 46th month, include a second production trial from bio-based products. These extracted raw materials from the selected species will be assessed by industrial partners for the scaling-up process.

More information: 

https://beonnat.eu/

Contact at ATB: Joachim Venus
Project coordinator: Luis Saúl Esteban 
Communication: Gádor López 

BeonNAT is funded by European Union in Horizon 2020. The BeonNAT Consortium is constituted by 15 partners: 8 RTO, 5 SME, 2 LE and 1 association.

Download the projects second press release.

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