WOOD – UP is an applied-research project that aims to produce expendable results, with an impact on key sectors (agriculture, energy, environment) of the South Tyrolian economy. Pyrolysis and gasification of woody biomass for cogeneration of heat and electricity is a sustainable form of energy production from renewable sources. Nevertheless, it still has elements of weakness that could be improved. Among these, it has to be mentioned the solid, C-rich by-product (biochar) of pyrolysis and gasification, which is now treated as waste, resulting in an economic and environmental cost. Recent research findings has suggested that biochar may represent a valuable resource, when used in agriculture as soil amendment. However, biochar physical and chemical characteristics, which determine its suitability to be used in agriculture, depends both on the feedstock and on the production process. The characteristics of the biochar produced in South Tyrol are only partially known, and its ability to improve soil fertility is still unknown. A second aspect is related to the raw material. The lignocellulosic material used in pyrolysis and gasification plants is rich in secondary compounds, which could be used by the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industry. These compounds could be extracted before the use of biomass for energy production, increasing the economic sustainability of the entire value chain.
In this framework, WOOD – UP aims to:
1 ) assess the energy efficiency of existing pyrolysis or gasification plants and
2) characterize the biochar produced in South Tyrol ;
3) assess the potential to extract substances with high added value from wood biomass;
4) study the effect of biochar application on the soil fertility, the quality of the agricultural products and the GHG emissions in vineyards and apple orchards in South Tyrol;
5) integrate the obtained results in a scenario analysis using LCA.