Forests account for almost 40% of the Europe’s territory, with the figure being higher in Spain at almost 55% in Spain and around the same in Portugal. Mediterranean countries are especially prone to forest fires, a problem that is worsening as a result of climate change. Globally, forest fires are responsible for around 12.95 Gt of CO2 emissions every year. As a preventive measure, Mediterranean countries invest millions of euros cleaning the forests in order to diminish the amount of easily combustible biomass. Most of this forest waste, around 1.98 t/ha, is burned in the field as part of the cleaning process, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, mainly CO2 and NO2.
The main objective of LIGNOBIOLIFE is to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of developing an industrial plant to generate high added value bioproducts, such as biochar and wood vinegar, from forest waste. In this way, the project will make a valuable contribution to rural economic development. The project approach is to apply sustainable forest management practices for biomass recollection, thus ensuring the conservation of biodiversity.
Specifically, the project will demonstrate, on an industrial scale, the efficient production of biochar and bio-asphalt from lignocellulose residues using microwave pyrolysis. The aim is to show the valuable qualities of biochar and the potential of wood vinegar for use as a green alternative to chemical herbicides. The project also plans to demonstrate the environmental, structural and economic viability of the use of bio-asphalt. Finally, the viability of installing three bio-refineries (one in Spain and two in Portugal) will be assessed and possible business plans drawn up.
The project will make a contribution to the EU Forest Strategy, the Biomass Action Plan, 2030 European climate and energy framework, 2050 Low carbon economy roadmap, the directives on sustainable use of pesticides, the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and the quality of fuels, as well as the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation for 2021-2030 and the Circular Economy European Strategy.