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    The Cypriot parliament has rejected an amendment by President Papadopoulos on the law regarding the use of biofuels that contain genetically modified substances. The amendment called for an alteration in the law that currently did not allow the import or use of biofuels that had been produced using GM substances, something that goes against a recent EU Directive on GMOs. Cyprus Mail - May 18, 2007.

    According to Salvador Rivas, the director for Non-Conventional Energy at the Dominican Republic's Industry and Commerce Ministry, a group of companies from Brazil wants to invest more than 100 million dollars to produce ethanol in the country, both for local consumption and export to the United States. Dominican Today - May 16, 2007.

    EWE AG, a German multi-service energy company, has started construction on a plant aimed at purifying biogas so that it can be fed into the natural gas grid. Before the end of the year, EWE AG will be selling the biogas to end users via its subsidiary EWE Naturwatt. Solarthemen [*German] - May 16, 2007.

    Scania will introduce an ethanol-fueled hybrid bus concept at the UITP public transport congress in Helsinki 21-24 May 2007. The full-size low-floor city bus is designed to cut fossil CO2 emissions by up to 90% when running on the ethanol blend and reduce fuel consumption by at least 25%. GreenCarCongress - May 16, 2007.

    A report by the NGO Christian Aid predicts there may be 1 billion climate refugees and migrants by 2050. It shows the effects of conflicts on populations in poor countries and draws parallels with the situation as it could develop because of climate change. Christian Aid - May 14, 2007.

    Dutch multinational oil group Rompetrol, also known as TRG, has entered the biofuel market in France in conjunction with its French subsidiary Dyneff. It hopes to equip approximately 30 filling stations to provide superethanol E85 distribution to French consumers by the end of 2007. Energy Business Review - May 13, 2007.

    A group of British organisations launches the National Forum on Bio-Methane as a Road Transport Fuel. Bio-methane or biogas is widely regarded as the cleanest of all transport fuels, even cleaner than hydrogen or electric vehicles. Several EU projects across the Union have shown its viability. The UK forum was lauched at the Naturally Gas conference on 1st May 2007 in Loughborough, which was hosted by Cenex in partnership with the NSCA and the Natural Gas Vehicle Association. NSCA - May 11, 2007.

    We reported earlier on Dynamotive and Tecna SA's initiative to build 6 bio-oil plants in the Argentinian province of Corrientes (here). Dynamotive has now officially confirmed this news. Dynamotive - May 11, 2007.

    Nigeria launches a national biofuels feasibility study that will look at the potential to link the agricultural sector to the automotive fuels sector. Tim Gbugu, project leader, said "if we are able to link agriculture, we will have large employment opportunity for the sustenance of this country, we have vast land that can be utilised". This Day Onlin (Lagos) - May 9, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets with the CEO of Portuguese energy company Galp Energia, which will sign a biofuel cooperation agreement with Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras. GP1 (*Portuguese) - May 9, 2007.

    The BBC has an interesting story on how biodiesel made from coconut oil is taking the pacific island of Bougainville by storm. Small refineries turn the oil into an affordable fuel that replaces costly imported petroleum products. BBC - May 8, 2007.

    Indian car manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra is set to launch its first B100-powered vehicles for commercial use by this year-end. The company is confident of fitting the new engines in all its existing models. Sify - May 8, 2007.

    The Biofuels Act of the Philippines has come into effect today. The law requires all oil firms in the country to blend 2% biodiesel (most often coconut-methyl ester) in their diesel products. AHN - May 7, 2007.

    Successful tests based on EU-criteria result in approval of 5 new maize hybrids that were developed as dedicated biogas crops [*German]. Veredlungsproduktion - May 6, 2007.

    With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation for Regional Economic Development (WIRED), Michigan State University intends to open a training facility dedicated to students and workers who want to start a career in the State's growing bioeconomy. Michigan State University - May 4, 2007.

    Researchers from the Texas A&M University have presented a "giant" sorghum variety for the production of ethanol. The crop is drought-tolerant and yields high amounts of ethanol. Texas A & M - May 3, 2007.

    C-Tran, the public transportation system serving Southwest Washington and parts of Portland, has converted its 97-bus fleet and other diesel vehicles to run on a blend of 20% biodiesel beginning 1 May from its current fleet-wide use of B5. Automotive World - May 3, 2007.

    The Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) and France's largest research organisation, the CNRS, have signed a framework-agreement to cooperate on the development of new energy technologies, including research into biomass based fuels and products, as well as carbon capture and storage technologies. CNRS - April 30, 2007.

    One of India's largest state-owned bus companies, the Andra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation is to use biodiesel in one depot of each of the 23 districts of the state. The company operates some 22,000 buses that use 330 million liters of diesel per year. Times of India - April 30, 2007.

    Indian sugar producers face surpluses after a bumper harvest and low prices. Diverting excess sugar into the ethanol industry now becomes more attractive. India is the world's second largest sugar producer. NDTVProfit - April 30, 2007.

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet on Thursday signed a biofuel cooperation agreement designed to share Brazil's experience in ethanol production and help Chile develop biofuels and fuel which Lula seeks to promote in other countries. More info to follow. People's Daily Online - April 27, 2007.

    Italy's Benetton plans to build a €61 million wood processing and biomass pellet production factory Nagyatád (southwest Hungary). The plant will be powered by biogas. Budapest Sun - April 27, 2007.

    Cargill is to build an ethanol plant in the Magdeburger Börde, located on the river Elbe, Germany. The facility, which will be integrated into existing starch processing plant, will have an annual capacity of 100,000 cubic meters and use grain as its feedstock. FIF - April 26, 2007.

    Wärtsilä Corporation was awarded a contract by the Belgian independent power producer Renogen S.A. to supply a second biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plant in the municipality of Amel in the Ardennes, Belgium. The new plant will have a net electrical power output of 3.29 MWe, and a thermal output of up to 10 MWth for district heating. The electrical output in condensing operation is 5.3 MWe. Kauppalehti - April 25, 2007.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

The end of a utopian idea: iron-seeding the oceans to capture carbon won't work

For a while, some scientists thought they had found a simple 'quick fix' to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere via a biological process. The idea was to seed iron into the oceans to stimulate the growth of algae. The phytoplankton trap carbon dioxide via photosynthesis, and store it in their cells. After a while, the algae drop down to the ocean floor and take the carbon with them, where it remains for a long time. However, earlier experiments and economic studies showed that this 'geo-engineering' strategy doesn't pay off; large quantities of iron are needed to result in a small effect, making the technique too expensive.

By comparing the natural process with the artificial iron-seeding technique, scientists from France's leading research institute, the CNRS, have now been able to show exactly why the mimicked process is not efficient. At the same time, they found clues to a question that has been debated for a long time amongst paleoclimatologists: that of the role of iron circulation in the oceans during the climate changes observed in the period between glacial and interglacial eras.

A 47 strong research team of French, Belgian, Dutch and Australian oceanographers and biogeochemists from the international oceanographic mission KEOPS ('KErguelen Ocean and Plateau compared Study') set out in 2005 to analyse the process as it occurs near the Îles Kerguelen in the Southern Ocean. They published their results in the April 26 issue of the journal Nature and found that a much more complex stream of nutrients released according to a specific timing pattern is needed to trigger algae bloom formation that effectively captures and transfers carbon to the ocean floor, than merely adding iron. They conclude that geo-engineering the oceans won't work.

Two ocean pumps
Oceans are the most important carbon sinks on the planet. Two major mechanisms allow these vast reservoirs to extract carbon from the atmosphere: the 'physical pump' and the 'biological pump'. The 'physical pump' is a mechanism that, because of the natural ocean circulation, gradually forces carbon-rich surface waters to the deep, where the carbon remains locked. In the 'biological pump' (image, click to enlarge), carbon gas is taken up via photosynthesis into the cells of micro-organisms or in the calcium carbonate shells of sea creatures, which sink to the ocean floor as waste or when they die.

For more than a century already, a third of the anthropogenic carbon emitted into the atmosphere has been taken back by the oceans. Surprisingly, this work is done exclusively by the 'physical pump'. The 'biological pump' does not contribute to this process and simply continues its old cycle as it existed before the industrial age. However, the biological system is not operating at its maximum capacity. In vast parts of the world's oceans, the biological pump even works in slow motion, because of a lack of micro-organisms. The Southern Ocean in particular is poor in phytoplankton, despite the fact that the waters there consist of very nutrient-rich salts. So what exactly is holding the micro-organisms back from proliferating there? This was the crucial question for the research team:
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It is a question of major importance, because if we could tap the potential of these oceans to store more carbon via the biological cycle, then we could help fight global warming.

Between 1993 and 2005, around 12 oceanographic expeditions have allowed scientists to ascertain that phytoplankton in the great seas, and particularly in the Southern Ocean, lacked iron and started blooming when more iron was artificially added to their environment. However, the hypothesis that there is such a thing as a top-down transfer of carbon from the micro-organisms that thrive on the surface and that sink towards the bottom of the ocean, has so far not been proved.

Mother nature knows best
The KEOPS mission sailed out to find out. Contrary to the previous campaigns, this mission focused on the natural processes that drive phytoplankton blooms in the nutrient-rich waters near the Îles Kerguelen. This location was not chosen randomly: satellite images revealed that each year in the summer a very localised algae bloom emerges, a phenomenon that can only be explained by the presence of iron. Would this region of the Southern Ocean be a privileged zone for the 'biological pump' to operate?

The KEOPS researchers found that, indeed, the occurence of these blooms is the result of a continuous and natural flow of iron in the surface waters: via a series of complex steps, this iron is pumped up from deep water layers to the surface. This natural fertilisation process was then compared to artificial fertilisation campaigns. The result: the carbon transfer from the surface to the bottom of the ocean was found to be twice as large in the natural process. The total efficiency of the fertilisation - defined as the relation between the quantity of carbon transferred to the bottom of the ocean versus the amount of added iron - was at least ten times higher than artificial iron seeding.

Answers to old questions
The researchers found that this huge difference is due to the fact that a far wider range of natural nutrients are involved in creating algae blooms and carbon transfers than was previously found. It also answers the question asked by other scientists as to why iron seeding is not cost-efficient. For the time being, we cannot mimic the complex flow of nutrients needed to drive the process.

These discoveries have important repercussions in the quest to validate a paleoclimatic scenario which says that a part of the variations in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between the Ice Age and interglacial periods was caused by modifications in the processes by which iron circulates in the oceans.

The findings also shed new light on the impacts of climate change on the important 'biological pump' that continuously traps and transfers carbon gas.

The end of the iron-seeding idea?
Finally, the researchers think their results mean the end of the 'geo-engineering' utopia that consists of artificially seeding the oceans with iron: the very intricate and slow but highly regulated process of iron addition as it occurs in the natural process, combined with the complexity of the composition of nutrients, make it almost unreplicable. For the process to occur, each location has its own interaction of different nutrient flows and a finetuned timing, which make it impossible and even unwarranted to try to replicate it in a standard way elsewhere.

The effectiveness of artificial iron-seeding as a way to induce carbon trapping algae blooms is put into question. But more importantly, the secondary effects of such a geo-engineering strategy on other marine creatures are not yet known.

The iron seeding idea is made impossible by a catch-22: on the one hand, the results from small-scale experiments cannot be extrapolated to proposed large scale efforts, precisely because of the intricacies and complexity of very localised circumstances that determine the effectiveness of the effort, whereas on the other hand, skipping small scale tests and immediately implementing large scale campaigns poses the risk of unwanted secondary effects on the biodiversity of vast swathes of the oceans.

The KEOPS mission was supported by the Institut national des sciences de l'Univers (INSU/CNRS), with the logistical support of the Institut polaire français Paul-Émile Victor (IPEV). Working on board of the Marion Dufresne, the science team was headed by Stéphane Blain, researcher at the Laboratoire d'océanographie et de biogéochimie de Marseille (LOB/COM, CNRS / Université Aix-Marseille 2).

Translated and adapted by JVDB from CNRS: Fertiliser les océans : la fin d'une utopie? - April 26, 2007.

More information:
Stéphane Blain et al., "Effect of natural iron fertilization on carbon sequestration in the Southern Ocean", [*abstract], Nature, 446, 1070-1074 (26 April 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05700

Nature: "Only mother nature knows how to fertilize the ocean - Natural input of nutrients works ten times better than manmade injections" - April 23, 2007.

The Scientist: "Iron Seeding Just Doesn't Pay" [*abstract], The Scientist, 5 July, 2004, 18(13):26

Sixteen laboratories from across the world participated in the KEOPS mission, which has its own website.

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Biochar soil sequestration and pyrolysis most climate-friendly way to use biomass for energy

The ancient technique of burying charcoal into agricultural soils has gained attention over the years as a way to sequester carbon dioxide and fight climate change. Earlier we referred to scientists who are studying this tradition as it existed in the Amazon rainforest, where human-made and very fertile soils were discovered filled with char ("terra preta", "dark earth" - earlier post).

Many biomass researchers are now looking into the 'biochar' or 'agrichar' technique to use it in combination with modern biofuels. Called 'geosequestration of biochar' or 'black-carbon sequestration', the technique is different from carbon capture and storage (CCS), in that the first carbon sequestration concept involves burying the carbon in soils that can be used to grow crops, whereas the latter technique merely involves storing CO2 underground in geological formations like saline aquifers or depleted oil and gas fields.

So biomass allows for the design of two types of carbon-negative energy systems: (1) Bio-Energy with Carbon Storage (BECS) involves burning biomass/biogas in power plants, capturing the carbon, and storing it in dedicated sites (earlier post and here); (2) Growing crops to use part of their biomass as a fuel source, while the rest of the crop is turned into charcoal that is not used for energy, but that is sequestered into the soil, a process that enhances soil fertility, making the biofuel crops grow even better. In principle, a combination of the two techniques can be imagined.

For the time being, several countries in the EU are trying to supplant some coal-burning by burning biomass such as wood pellets and agricultural residues. Unlike coal, biomass is carbon-neutral, releasing only the carbon dioxide that the plants had absorbed in the first place. Eventually, BECS could be applied to such systems.

But a new research paper [*abstract] published online in the journal Biomass and Bioenergy argues that the biochar technique may be an even better route in the fight against global warming. An optimal system would consist of heating the biomass in an oxygen-starved process called pyrolysis, extracting methane, hydrogen, and other byproducts for combustion and energy, while burying the resulting carbon-rich char that is another byproduct from biomass pyrolysis.

Even if this approach would mean burning more coal - which emits more carbon dioxide than other fossil-fuel sources - it would yield a net reduction in carbon emissions, according to the analysis by Malcolm Fowles, a professor of technology management at the Open University, in the United Kingdom. Burning one ton of wood pellets emits 357 kilograms less carbon than burning coal with the same energy content. But turning those wood pellets into char would save 372 kilograms of carbon emissions. That is because 300 kilograms of carbon could be buried as char, and the burning of byproducts would produce 72 kilograms less carbon emissions than burning an equivalent amount of coal:
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Such an approach could carry an extra benefit. Burying char enhances soils, helping future crops and trees grow even faster, thus absorbing more carbon dioxide in the future. Researchers believe that the char, an inert and highly porous material, plays a key role in helping soil retain water and nutrients, and in sustaining microorganisms that maintain soil fertility.

Johannes Lehmann, an associate professor of crops and soil sciences at Cornell University and an expert on char sequestration, agrees in principle with Fowles's analysis but believes that much more research in this relatively new area of study is needed. "It heads in the right direction," he says.

Interest in the approach is gathering momentum. On April 29, more than 100 corporate and academic researchers will gather in New South Wales, Australia, to attend the first international conference on black-carbon sequestration and the role pyrolysis can play to offset greenhouse-gas emissions.

Lehmann estimates that as much as 9.5 billion tons of carbon - more than currently emitted globally through the burning of fossil fuels - could be sequestered annually by the end of this century through the sequestration of char. "Bioenergy through pyrolysis in combination with biochar sequestration is a technology to obtain energy and improve the environment in multiple ways at the same time," writes Lehmann in a research paper to be published soon in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Image: Heating biomass such as wood pellets (right) in an oxygen-free environment produces char (left) and byproducts such as methane that can be burned. Research shows that turning biomass into char and burying the char is a good way to avoid releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Credit: U.S. Department of Energy

More information:

Malcolm Fowles, "Black carbon sequestration as an alternative to bioenergy" [*.abstract], Biomass & Bioenergy, Volume 31, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 426-432 (available online, 6 March 2007) doi:10.1016/j.biombioe.2007.01.012

Johannes Lehman, John Gaunt, Marco Rondon, "Bio-char sequestration in terrestrial ecosystems - A review" [*.pdf], Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2006) 11: 403–427

Johannes Lehman's site: Bio-char or Agri-char: the new frontier, Cornell University.
The Terra Preta mailing list.

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Satellites play vital role in understanding the carbon cycle

The global carbon cycle plays a key role in climate change and is of intense importance to policy makers, but significant knowledge gaps remain in our understanding of it. Several scientists at the Envisat Symposium this week have highlighted research projects using European Space Agency (ESA) satellites to understand better this complex process.

The total number of carbon atoms on Earth is fixed – they are exchanged between the ocean, atmosphere, land and biosphere. The fact that human activities are pumping extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, by fossil fuel burning and deforestation, is well known. Because of this, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are higher today than they have been over the last half-million years or so. Scientists are now using satellite instruments to locate sinks and sources of CO2 in the ocean and land.

First instrument to measure global greenhouse gas emissions
Dr Michael Buchwitz from the Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP) at the University of Bremen in Germany presented global carbon dioxide measurements based on observations from Envisat’s SCIAMACHY instrument from 2003 to 2005.

The SCIAMACHY (Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography) instrument is the first space sensor capable of measuring the most important greenhouse gases with high sensitivity down to the Earth’s surface because it observes the spectrum of sunlight shining through the atmosphere in ‘nadir’ looking operations on a global scale.

Buchwitz explained that he and his colleagues first measure the absolute carbon dioxide (CO2) column in number of CO2 molecules per area above the Earth’s surface. Then, they measure the oxygen (O2) column that can be easily converted into an ‘air column’. As seen in the image above (click to enlarge), both figures are essentially identical, as he had expected.

“There are, however, tiny differences and this is the CO2 source/sink information we are interested in,” Buchwitz said. “To see this we compute the CO2/O2 ratio which can be converted into a column averaged CO2 mixing ratio.”

Dr Paul Monks from the University of Leicester is using SCIAMACHY data to measure how much CO2 is being taken up by plants. Using 20,000 individual measurements a month, he is monitoring CO2 drawn down over Siberia, North America and Northern Europe:
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According to Monks, this view from space is providing the first evidence of the Earth ‘breathing’ by allowing scientists to witness the biology drawing down CO2 during the growing season and then releasing some of it back.

“The exciting new area breaking from this sort of data is that we begin to be able to look at the tropics, which are the ‘lungs’ of the atmospheric system,” Monks said. “Using this data, we are going to be able to assess how efficient the tropics are at modulating carbon as well as how that is changing with time as climate change effects the tropical biosystem.”

By comparing the satellite data to aircraft data and to remote-sensing sites on the surface, Monks learned the method he and his colleagues are using is approaching a precision of around 1%, giving them confidence in what they see from space.

By better understanding all of the parameters involved in the carbon cycle, scientists can better predict climate change as well as better monitor international treaties aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Kyoto Protocol which addresses the reduction of six greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide.

Measuring photosynthetic activity
Across land and sea, our world's plant life uses the process called photosynthesis to convert incoming sunlight into chemical energy. Plants accumulate carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and store it in their tissues, making them carbon sinks.

Dr Nadine Gobron of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (EC-JRC) in Ispra, Italy, is combining daily multispectral observations from Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument with a sophisticated processing algorithm to reveal global photosynthesis activity on land (example of its application for Europe, see map, click to enlarge).

The fraction of incoming solar radiation useful for photosynthesis that is actually absorbed by vegetation – a value known as the Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (FAPAR) – is recognised as an essential climate variable by international organisations including the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). FAPAR is regularly used in diagnostic and predictive models to compute the primary productivity of the vegetation canopies.

The operational FAPAR MERIS product is derived with the JRC-FAPAR algorithm, which has been designed to exploit the daily MERIS spectral measurements in the blue, red and near-infrared bands with no prior knowledge on the land cover.

This methodology involves a physically-based approach which can be adopted for generating this biophysical product from various optical medium resolution sensors. The algorithm used allows scientists to derive the equivalent biophysical product from other optical satellite sensors, even retired ones, to ensure the availability of a long-time series of global FAPAR, which is essential to assess environmental trends, guide policy making and support sustainable development activities.

“Demonstration products at the global scale are now available and are ready to be used in state-of-the-art carbon data assimilation systems (CCDAS) for better understanding the role of the biosphere in the global carbon cycle,” Gobron said.

Phytoplankton, microscopic marine plants that drift on or near the surface of the sea, absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide through photosynthesis just as their terrestrial ‘cousins’ do. While individually microscopic, phytoplankton chlorophyll collectively tints the surrounding ocean waters, providing a means of detecting these tiny organisms from space with dedicated ocean colour sensors, such as MERIS.

Image 1: Comparison between oxygen (top) and carbon dioxide figures derived from SCIAMACHY. Credits: Buchwitz, IUP/IFE, Univ. Bremen

Image 2: FAPAR (Fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation) derived from MERIS over Europe in May 2005. FAPAR - the fraction of incoming solar radiation useful for photosynthesis that is actually absorbed by vegetation - is recognised as an essential climate variable by international organisations and is regularly used in diagnostic and predictive models to compute the primary productivity of the vegetation canopies. Credits: N. Gobron

More information:
ESA: Envisat Symposium 2007 kicks off in Switzerland - April 23, 2007.
ESA: Envisat homepage.

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Turning brownfields green with biofuels - project in the UK

Biofuels are not destined for human consumption. For this reason, they can be grown on land not suitable for food crops. Earlier we referred to the potential of energy plantations to function as bioremediation agents on former industrial sites (previous post on phytoremediation of coal-bed methane water, and on turning brownfields into 'green fields' using, for example, miscanthus, as is being studied in France). When grown on mining sites, biofuel crops can do several things at the same time: they clean up water resources, contain the spread of fine and dangerous particles which affect people living in the vicinity and halt progressive erosion (earlier post and a concept under development in South Africa).

The UK's Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is joining this line of research by launching a project aimed at growing willow on former landfill sites to help test the viability of using contaminated brownfield land for biofuel production. The industrialised world has thousands of hectares of such polluted, degraded and abandoned sites - the scars of a bygone industrial era.

The WRAP pilot project will convert former landfill sites at Lumley North and Coxhoe East. The poor quality soils of these sites will first be restored by an application of 1,000 tonnes of certified (BSI PAS 100:2005) green compost per hectare after which they will be planted with short rotation coppice (SRC) willow.

The fast growing willow will then be harvested and used in biofuel production – a sustainable fuel resource that will provide energy for the local area. Assessment of the establishment and yield from the willow grown in compost will be compared to the same crop under conventional agricultural conditions grown in the same area, to determine whether low-value sites, such as former landfills, can generate cost effective biofuels using organic materials:
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The Lumley North and Coxhoe East sites, which extend to 60 hectares, form part of Premier Waste Management Ltd’s portfolio of operational and closed landfill sites and are managed by Land Remediation Services Ltd. The trailblazer programme is designed to help developers, designers and contractors realise the financial and environmental benefits of specifying high quality compost in brownfield projects.

Dr Eric Evans, of Land Remediation Services, said: “We specified green waste compost for the project as it is the best form of organic matter to restore the poor quality soils with respect to improving water retention and nutrient levels. This makes it suitable for planting short rotation coppice willow for biofuel production.”

The compost was sourced from Premier Waste Management’s Joint Stocks Recycling Centre in Coxhoe and is made from recycled municipal garden waste. The project started in November 2006 and is due to complete in March 2008. The coppice willow produced will be contracted to Renewable Energy from Agriculture (REFA) for local energy production. When mature, the crops will yield in the region of 20 tonnes per ha per year on a three year cutting cycle.

Pilot projects at other sites conducted in conjunction with WRAP, which look at the benefits of using PAS 100 compost in-situ as a soil improver, have shown significant improvement in both cost efficiencies and the quality of the resulting topsoil. In some cases, costs have been reduced by over 50 per cent*.

Richard Swannell, Director of the Organics Programme at WRAP, said: “Previous trials have shown that using locally sourced quality PAS 100 compost as a soil improver, not only saves transportation and landfill costs, but also produces good quality, fertile soil making it suitable for a wide range of uses. These two trailblazer sites are the first to use quality compost in restoring the land for biofuel production.”

The BSI PAS 100:2005 certification means that the compost, which is produced from source segregated garden waste such as grass cuttings, prunings and leaves, has been manufactured to a consistent high quality level and is also safe, reliable and sustainable.

WRAP is a non-profit working in partnerships to encourage and enable businesses and consumers to be more efficient in their use of materials and recycle more things more often. This helps to minimise landfill, reduce carbon emissions and improve the environment. The organisation is backed by substantial Government funding from Defra and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Working in seven key areas (Construction, Retail, Manufacturing, Organics, Business Growth, Behavioural Change, and Local Authority Support), WRAP’s work focuses on market development and support to drive forward recycling and materials resource efficiency within these sectors, as well as wider communications and awareness activities including the multi-media national Recycle Now campaign for England.

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