Project

OPTIMISC - Optimizing bioenergy production from Miscanthus

OPTIMISC optimizes the miscanthus bioenergy and bioproduct chain by: trialling elite germplasm types over a range of sites across Europe, Ukraine and Russia; analysing the key traits that currently limit the potential of miscanthus; identifying high-value bioproducts; and modelling the combined results to provide recommendations to policy makers, growers and industry.

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Miscanthus is a C4 perennial rhizomatous grass originating from Eastern Asia that has become a leading candidate crop for production of a lignocellulosic feedstock for a biobased economy in Europe. Research over the past 20 years has shown that a few key species, and their interspecific hybrids, have a high yield potential for bioenergy as well as other biomass-derived products.

Optimize crops for bioenergy and bioproducts

In OPTIMISC, the impact of elite germplasm and novel hybrids for the optimization of the bioenergy and additional higher-value bioproducts is assessed. The overall objective of this project is to optimize bioenergy production from Miscanthus through the development of new technology (primarily germplasm) and the generation of the knowledge needed for the implementation of large-scale, sustainable biomass production.

Studying 100 different genotypes

Practical solutions to key bottlenecks are sought through a series of experiments with up to 100 different outstanding genotypes and some seed-propagated experimental varieties. The entries used in these studies will be propagated through tissue culture or through seeds to generate sufficient homogenous plantlets for experiments and trials on laboratory, agronomic plot and near-commercial scales.

The topics tackled in these trials are:

  • tolerance to the abiotic stresses drought, salinity and freezing  
  • yield and quality in a wide range of environments taking into consideration traits such as senescence, nutrient re-cycling, nutrient-use efficiency
  • process-ability of biomass to convenient fuel formats and added-value products through biorefinery

Data gathered in this project will be integrated through the development of modelling parameters which will be used in life-cycle analysis models and other decision support tools to identify optimum production scenarios in the EU, Ukraine and Russia.

Developing the full potential of Miscanthus

Recommendations will be provided to Miscanthus developers on appropriate genotype selection, propagation and processing methods to maximize the environmental, economic and social benefits. The development of the full potential of Miscanthus through OPTIMISC will contribute in Europe’s transition to a sustainable biobased economy. OPTIMISC will provide practical know-how on genotype x environment interactions needed to improve: genotypic selection and agronomy, exploitation of marginal lands, processing of biomass via biorefinery towards bioenergy and bioproducts and, last but not least, the environment.

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