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miércoles, 15 de noviembre de 2017

Profile: CLAMBER R&D Biorefinery

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the demo event “Zero Waste Biorefineries” organized by ASEBIO (Spanish Bioindustry Association) under the framework of the Valor Plus project (Improving by-product output through sustainable and integrated closed loop biorefineries, FP7-KBBE-2013-7-613802). The event was held in the CLAMBER R&D Biorefinery and included a visit to the pilot facilities. Javier Mena (Scientific Coordinator) and Francisco Javier Pinar (Technical Manager) showed and explained the different units and equipment of the plant.

The biorefinery occupies a parcel next to the oil refinery of Repsol in Puertollano. A good panoramic view of the vast refinery can be clearly seen from the small biorefinery. It was an image with a major symbolic dimension for me: the transition between the fossil economy and the bioeconomy starting from a tiny seed. This pilot plant is destined to be a key tool for the growth of the biorefining sector in the region and in the whole Spain. I should like to seize the chance provided by this visit to present a complete profile of the CLAMBER R&D Biorefinery.


The CLAMBER (Castilla-La Mancha Bioeconomy Region) project started in late 2013 aimed to foster the bioeconomy in Castilla-La Mancha (Autonomous Community in Cental Spain). It is based in two main pillars: a pilot facility and the procurement of R&D services to encourage the applied research for regional SMEs. The pilot facility is known as the CLAMBER R&D Biorefinery. Its construction took place during 2015 and 2016 and it was officially opened two months ago. The start-up and operation of the plant were entrusted to GEACAM (public company for the environmental management in the region). More details about the background can be found in this blog post: Official opening of the pilot biorefinery of the CLaMber project in Puertollano (11/09/2017).

Figure 1. View from the entrance of the CLAMBER R&D Biorefinery

General characteristics and services

The plant, characterized by its modularity and flexibility, is focused on the validation of new conversion bioprocesses and seeks to bridge the gap between lab and industrial scale reducing delivery times and investment costs. A large part of the equipment has semi-industrial size and, even, some of them hit an industrial volume. Although it was not designed for a continuous operation, its processing capacity for a normal working time is 1 ton/day of dry biomass. In certain specific conditions, 2 tons/day could be reached.

The types of feedstocks that can be fed and studied are:
- Lignocellulosic biomass (prunings, branches, straw…).
- Sugar or starch (corn, beet…).
- Wet biomass (whey, grape marcs and lees, OFMSW…).

The CLAMBER R&D Biorefinery offers the following services:
- Process optimization.
- Scale-up of experiments (from kilograms to 1 ton of dry matter per day).
- Development of new bioproducts.
- Training in biotechnology.
It allows to monitor, analyse and validate of the whole process of scaling from laboratory to the semi-industrial stage. The modalities of cooperation available to access those services are: the leasing of the facilities and the participation as partner in projects with competitive funding.

Units and equipment

The CLAMBER R&D Biorefinery is located in a field plot of 19,000 m2 with 5,130 m2 urbanized. It is comprised by several units. Below, you can find a description of these units and a list of the equipment.

- Solid biomass storage: 4 x 35 m3.

Figure 2

Conditioning and pretreatment of herbaceous and woody biomass for its conversion to a fermentable carbon source.
- Mill for herbaceous and woody biomass: 200 kg/h.
- Extractor with vapor: 3 m3.
- Two-step steam explosion reactor: 400 l (up to 21 barg).
- Solid/liquid separators: 15 m3/h.

Figure 3

Fermentation or biotransformation of the carbon source obtained in the upstream area into different bioproducts (bioplastics, biofuels, building blocks…).
- Microbiology laboratory for micro management (starters, inoculants…).
- Reactors for hydrolysis and anaerobic and aerobic fermentation: 2 x 3 l, 2 x 30 l, 1 x 300 l, 1 x 3,000 l, 1 x 20,000 l.
- Systems for sterilization, substrate preparation, addition of sterile reactants, cleaning in place and other utilities.

Figure 4

Purification and concentration of the fermentation products of interest.
- Harvesting tanks with capacity to act as extractors: 2 x 1,500 l (1 ATEX and 1 no ATEX), 2 x 10,000 l (1 ATEX and 1 no ATEX).
- Microfiltration system: 1 m3/h.
- Centrifugation system (ATEX): 1.5 m3/h.

Figure 5

Anaerobic digestion plant
It is a modular and transportable pilot plant (400 l/day) for the anaerobic digestion and co-digestion of solid and liquid organic biomass. Biogas, volatile fatty acids (VFAs) and biofertilizers can be produced in this unit.
- Storage tank for liquid wastes: 20 m3.
- Solid storage hopper: 10 m3.
- Pasteurization system: 1 m3.
- Homogenization tank: 3 m3.
- Anaerobic digester: 11 m3.
- Digestate tank: 5 m3.
- Gasometer: 20 m3.

Figure 6


Figure 7

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