Priority AxisResource Efficient Economy
Lead partnerGhent University
Project budget4 421 681 €
ERDF amount2 534 311 €
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 (as opposed to fossil sources or dedicated agricultural produce).
The common challenges for applying roadside grass clippings as a renewable feedstock in industrial processes are currently threefold:
- the supply chains are not yet optimal, resulting in higher costs
- a highly variable and heterogeneous supply
- an unsupportive institutional framework leading to legal and political challenges
The opportunities to be addressed by the Grassification project can thus be situated at different levels of the roadside grass clippings value chain, hindering altogether the use of grass clippings by the industry as a renewable resource (and thus hampering the pursuit of a biobased and circular economy).
The overall objective of the Grassification project is to apply a multi-dimensional approach to roadside grass clippings refining in order to optimize it into a viable value chain for the biobased and circular economy.
The project commits itself 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 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. Roadside grass clippings refining thus facilitates transition towards a circular economy.
- 5 tests and 10 demonstration actions in support of technical/logistical aspects of feedstock preparation and processing into biobased products.
- 2 tests, 2 demonstration actions and 3 feasibility studies in support of economic factors in the roadside grass clippings value chain.
- 1 policy development roadmap containing policy advice, supporting data, strategies and action plans concerning roadside grass clippings refining.
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.
Cross border approach
- Knowledge compilation: The different programme regions have each traditionally focused on different aspects of roadside grass clippings refining. Cross-border cooperation is necessary for the compilation of scattered knowledge available at national/regional/local level and its demonstration towards the target groups involved.
- Joint market development: The investment and research costs to prove the viability of refining roadside grass clippings are high. By working jointly, the risk can be spread. In addition, the need is felt to explore the possibilities of cross-border market actions and how it can benefit roadside grass clippings refining on a transnational scale.
- Joint forces to impact institutional framework: To adequately influence policy makers and legislation and so address the common juridical and political hurdles of biomass valorisation, cross-border cooperation is needed, as joining forces into concerted actions will significantly enhance the envisaged impact.
The Grassification project aims at valorizing roadside grass clippings. In a transborder cooperation between Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK, 13 partners want to transition towards the use of roadside grass clippings as a renewable resource for the production of biobased products.
The whole value chain for grass clippings valorization is being assessed, starting from the optimization of the input material to the processing and obtaining of final products up to the techno-economical assessment of the entire process and the development of policy recommendations.
Preparations have already been made to develop a new mowing head for improving the quality of the grass clippings. For the processing part, the low quality clippings will be tested towards enhanced landfill mining in a 200-300 tonnes closed cell that is already under construction.
The high quality grass fibers are currently being tested for the production of building panels and bio-composites through the collaboration of Belgium and Dutch partners, and a prototype product in form of a ‘card holder’ containing grass fibers has already been produced. With the liquid fraction, the different partners have made preparation to test the use of this product for the production of biogas, fertilizers, soil enhancers, and proteins (using insects and microalgae).
Biogas production has proved to be a promising route of valorization, with high output of methane per ton of liquid fraction. Also, contacts have been made with stakeholders active in commercial Spirulina (microalgae) production to assess the possibility to use the pressed grass liquids in replacement of current synthetic chemical growth substrates.
The first tests were successful, as the microalgae grew better in the diluted liquid fraction of grass than in the control medium. All of these potential pathways have been inserted in a product flow diagram, which will become a blueprint for the project and form the base for the techno-economic assessment.
The set-up of the supply chain optimization model has been started and, thanks to the transnational character of the project, collection of GIS data across the three regions has started.
Based on all these results, the Grassification project will reinforce institutional framework conditions, necessary to make the needed shift towards recycling and preventing the loss of valuable material. This should ultimately convince industries to invest in this alternative yet abundant renewable resource.