Kick-off meeting of the transcontinental project “SteamBioAfrica” funded by the European Union and coordinated by an IRNAS (CSIC) researcher

On September 29/30 2021, the Institute of Natural Resources and Agrobiology of Seville (IRNAS) from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) hosted a hybrid kick-off meeting for the EU “SteamBioAfrica” project (grant agreement 101036401) “Innovative Large-Scale Production of Affordable Clean Burning Solid Biofuel and Water in Southern Africa: Transforming Bush Encroachment from a Problem into a Secure and Sustainable Energy Source”.  This project has been selected for nearly € 9.94 million EU funding in the highly competitive Horizon 2020 Green New Deal call – “Accelerating the green transition and energy access Partnership with Africa”. This project builds on the previous Horizon 2020 “SteamBio” project (grant agreement 636865) “Demonstrating Innovative Continuous Superheated Steam Processing of Agro-Forestry Biomass into Clean Burning Solid Biofuel and Water”.

This new SteamBioAfrica project addresses multiple challenges facing Southern Africa, low carbon energy, climate change impacts and resource efficiency. In rural Namibia, the superheated steam biomass processing will be demonstrated at an industrially relevant scale (250 kg/hour throughput) and the produced biofuel will be validated as a viable and sustainable source of clean burning as well as secure and affordable energy across Southern Africa. The project will also study the acceptance by domestic and industrial customers in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa and also socio-economic and environmental benefits across the region.

This highly ambitious project is coordinated by Heike Knicker, from the MOSS group of the IRNAS with the support from Huw Parry, the project Innovation Manager from SteamBio Ltd (United Kingdom). It  will be advanced by the collaboration of a strong transcontinental consortium composed of partners from Africa in Namibia, (Namibia Biomass Industry Group; Carbon Capital, Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia University of Science and Technology), Botswana (Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation), South Africa (Ekasi Energy) and from Europe, Sweden (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Forestry Research Institute of Sweden), Ireland (Celignis Ltd), United Kingdom (CE Bennett & Sons Ltd, SteamBio Ltd) and Spain (Evenor Tech SL, MAGCE Urbion SL, CSIC). More information can be obtained at the project webpage which will be active by December 1, 2021.

In addition to their responsibilities as the project coordinator, the team of the IRNAS (María López Martín, Marta Velasco Molina, José María de la Rosa y Heike Knicker) provides its expertise in soil science and soil biochemistry for quantifying and evaluating ecosystem service impacts from the introduction of SHS processing of bush in Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa.

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