Wageningen Food & Biobased Research examines how the composition of biomass changes over time, and how we can manage this change via successful preservation techniques.
The composition of biomass varies both per year and throughout the year, and can change quickly after harvest. Various preservation techniques allow us to influence the durability of biomass.
Silaging and drying
Known preservation techniques for biomass include silaging and drying. Silaging decreases the pH of the biomass, which causes a number of components to lose their functionality or break down. Drying also causes irreversible changes: an example is that subsequent separation of components from plant juices can be more challenging. Other preservation techniques that we apply to many foods, such as freezing or storage after pasteurisation/ sterilisation, are unfortunately often too costly for biomass to materials or feed production.
Harvest and durability
Biomass does not have the same availability and durability characteristics as fossil fuels. The storage of biomass raw materials and the storage of intermediate and end products are subject to very specific challenges. This is why new preservation methods for biomass are of great importance for the biobased economy, along with harvest times and methods. When producing biomass immediately after harvesting was not necessary, it would be possible to carry out biorefining processes during ánd after the harvest season.
Preservation techniques as part of a process
Wagenigen Food & Biobased Research sees preservation techniques as an important part of the biorefining process. Besides maintaining certain properties during storage, we can use preservation techniques to initiate specific reactions, and make the technique part of the process. An example of such an application is the addition of enzymes and/or acids in the silaging process in order to hydrolyse green crops or process them into stable semi-finished products. We can, for instance, also optimise energy crops by harvesting them when they’re as dry as possible to minimise contamination. Together with customers and partners, we determine which preservation technique is best suited and desirable for a specific type of biomass as part of the biorefining process.