What is an IBLC? How is it integrated in the agro-industry?
A biomass logistic centre integrated in an agro-industry (named in the present project as IBLC), refers to the start of new biomass activity involving: field harvesting, collection and procurement towards the agro-industry, transformation into a higher added value commodity (bales, pellets, woodchips, etc.) and marketing.
This requires the development of a new non-food value chain that should be integrated with the pre-existing food chain. IBLCs by their conception, can substantially contribute to the European strategies.
IBLCs include a series of unique synergies for the development of new business on biomass and for the strengthening as agroindustries. For example, agro-industries are already settled and are used to handle and carry out quality controls to organic goods; as well they have already their logistics established. However, there are three cornerstones for the synergy of food and non-food logistics in the agro-industry:
The work is seasonal in many cases, so they can use their personnel and facilities for extending the activity along the whole year by alternating the food and non-food production.
They can take advantage of their existing equipment for handling and conditioning biomass (drying, pelletising, storing) during seasonal periods of low food activity.
They already have a network of suppliers and clients, and thus they can use them for obtaining biomass from their current providers, and can find in their current suppliers and clients a niche of market for biomass derived products.
Integrated harvest of products and by-products and harvest optimization
AGROinLOG’s main concern is the optimization of harvesting operations when aiming to produce biocommodities that allow achieving logistics improvements ensuring the economic profitability of the whole chain.
The use of new harvesting techniques that help savings in forced drying costs by squeezing the biomass on-field (for example the sudan grass) and the use of optimized equipment that increase collecting speed whereas decreasing sand/stones in complex chains like prunings will be demonstrated in the project.
Regarding the logistics of raw materials and final products, AGROinLOG will not only look for integrating both chains into the agro-industrial lines without affecting food products quality or properties, but will also determine the convenience of using existing equipment designed for food activities for transporting biomass products to the IBLC.
In that sense, in the case of herbaceous resources, forage haulers will be compared with conventional collecting machinery (balers) and a maximum distance from the IBLC that ensures more efficient and profitable operations for each type of machinery will be assessed.
Integration of non-food processes in the existing food ones
AGROinLOG pursues to maximize the use of already existing food equipment of the agro-industry in the IBLCs, especially during their idle periods, in order to decrease the investment and reduce equipment pay-back.
AGROinLOG will place especial attention on evaluating the interference of non-food activities in the quality or requirements of existing food activities and products and their optimization in order to ensure that no traces that might endanger food chain appear in the process.
New bio-commodities and intermediate bio-products production in the agro-industries by integrating non-food processes
AGROinLOG will make a techno-economic evaluation of the possibility of manufacturing biocomposites from the products obtained in the IBLC based on straw and from agricultural prunings.
AGROinLOG will also address the production of raw materials with a suitable quality for the biochemical market like furfural or levulinic acid from straw as well as phenols from the olive pomace oil extraction residue. AGROinLOG will also target the market of the liquid transport fuels.
In 2nd generation biofuel plants, the lignin-rich residue from the cellulose extraction is used to cover bioenergy demands. AGROinLOG will demonstrate the integration of an additional step to provide an added value to this residue.