Small-scale flexi-feed biorefineries : experimental evaluation and development of a decision support tool devoted to agricultural and industrial urban and peri-urban wastes


The FLEXIBI project aims at implementing combined and coordinated modelling and experimental approaches to design a decision support tool devoted to assess the most efficient and sustainable small-scale biorefinery for undervalorised sources of biomass from agri-industrial and peri-urban wastes.

The main driving force of the project being to develop a flexible and predictable process able to manage variable biomass (in composition and time) adapted to local context and feedstock (Small-scale Flexi-feed Biorefineries, SFB).

With the general view to further promote SFB, the FLEXIBI decision support tool will be developed upon knowledge engineering, quantitative process modelling and experimental assessments of representative pilot feedstocks from different urban and peri-urban waste origin (agricultural and agro-industry, landscaping and gardening, post-consumer wood wastes). The flexi-feed concept refers to the nature of feedstock or feedstock mixtures from various biomass supply chains.

Such flexibility combined with the valorisation of multiple high value products (beyond bioenergy and fertilisers) is expected to bring a buffering value (seasonal, functional and geographical) to support the
market roll-out of bioressources. Three pilot regions (Hamburg, Flanders and Nantes) will provide the necessary experimental data and samples for the  project.

Under the coordination of INRA, six major players (Hamburg University, Hamburg University of Technology, Ecole Supérieure du Bois, University of Helsinki and KU Leuven) will act with the support of an Advisory Board. A model for economic and environmental assessment of utilization strategies of undervalorised wastes in agri-industrial/peri-urban areas will be developed and validated based on the outputs of the flexi-feed biorefinery processes.

The academic partners will act jointly within an integrated and multidisciplinary approach connecting
stakeholders from production, transformation and policy sectors.

The FLEXIBI tool will support stakeholders over the whole value chain (waste managers, SFB designers, local authorities) in opening new ways towards bioeconomy through the implementation of economically viable small-scale solutions.

Beyond the decision support tool (DST) for SFB implementation, other outputs of the project will include new knowledge on the valorisation of currently underexploited waste, on the development of high value products and on the management of feedstock mixtures in biorefineries. This results in policy recommendations to further promote SFB development.

These outputs are expected to have an impact as a unique reference knowledge on biorefinery performance. Furthermore, processing underexploited waste at a local level should save natural resources and contribute to decreased fossil fuel use. Moreover, new valorised products will further emphasise replacement of oil-based products while local economy will benefit by revenues from the local biomass use.    


Mr. Bernard Cathala, 

INRA, France

Email: bernard.cathala@nantes.inra.fr    

Project partners: 

National Institut for agronomic research (INRA), France

University of Hamburg (UHH), Germany

Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Germany

Groupe Ecole Supérieure du Bois (ESB), France

University of Helsinki (UHE), Finland

KU Leuven - University of Leuven, Belguim - Flanders