Skip to content
Home » News » 15 million euro project optimises value chains for Miscanthus

15 million euro project optimises value chains for Miscanthus

  • News
  • 3 min read

A ground-breaking new project will further explore market opportunities for miscanthus as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Ambitious in its aim, the five-year project sets out to connect biomass value chains between partners to maximise the use of every part of the miscanthus plant at every stage of its life cycle, and it’s based on new seed-based hybrids developed over the last decade.

The new initiative, named ‘GRACE’ (GRowing Advanced industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorEfineries) kicks off this June, and Terravesta is an investor, along with 21 other partners made up of agricultural universities, agricultural companies and industry.

The project will examine the suitability of miscanthus for several end-uses, including construction, insulation materials, plastics – using sugars from the cane, biofuels, composite materials, medical/cosmetic applications, and as a bioherbicide replacement for glyphosate.

It will look at the potential to use miscanthus to stabilise land contaminated with heavy metals. Partners will investigate the effects of heavy metals on the plants, the extent to which they are taken up by the plants, and the ways in which contaminated biomass can be used and further processed without posing a health risk.

The partners are also examining how ecologically sustainable the crops are compared to fossil fuels, and it will also determine economic and social consequences of expanding the bioeconomy.

Running from now until 31st May 2022, the project spans across Europe and is being co-ordinated by the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart.

According to the project proposal, there are three essential conditions for further developing the bioeconomy as a sustainable alternative to a fossil-based economy: sustainable products with strong market potential, a reliable and affordable supply of sustainably produced biomass, and a better link between biomass producers and the processing industry. Other important factors include avoiding competition with food production and maintaining biodiversity.

The miscanthus varieties are being tested at 21 locations in Europe, while four experiments are looking at hemp production. The cultivation experiments are being led by scientists from the partners at the universities of Hohenheim (D), Aberystwyth (GB), and Wageningen (NL), the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Paris (F), the Universita Cattolica del Sacre Cuore in Piacenza (I), and the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Agriculture (HR).

As the project develops, there will be opportunities for interested companies to participate via an industry panel, allowing companies to share common experiences and discuss broadening the scope of potential biomass end-uses. It will also accelerate the implementation of research findings into agricultural and industrial practice.