CIEMAT: Description and role
Who we are
The Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT) is a public research body assigned to the Ministry of Science and Innovation under the General Secretariat for Research, focusing on energy and environment and the technologies related to them. It has offices in different regions of Spain, and its activity is structured around projects which form a bridge between R&D&I and social interest goals. It collaborates with other R&D&I institutions, universities and business in the sector to transfer the knowledge and technology that it has generated, supporting and encouraging innovation and changing the economic model. Its team of approximately 1328 people is technologically and geographically diversified.
The Centro de Desarrollo de Energías Renovables (CEDER) is specialised in applied research and the development and promotion of renewable energy. It forms part of the Energy Department at CIEMAT, and its R&D&I activities focus on energy production from biomass throughout the value chain. It also conducts studies on wind energy from low-power turbines and seeks practical solutions for integrating renewable energy sources into smart microgrids. CEDER boasts a professional team with advanced technical qualifications and technological infrastructure of proven quality, which enable it to provide technical support to energy companies and institutions within Spain and internationally.
Two research groups take part in the project: the Biomass Unit, located at CEDER territorial Centre in Soria`s province, and the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Unit at headquarters in Madrid.
The Biomass Unit of CIEMAT which belongs to the CEDER Division, focuses its activity on three areas, which together account for the entirety of the value chain: production, characterization and bioeconomy. Production focuses on the development of knowledge, technologies and applications in the fields of resource evaluation, energy crops, supply logistics and pretreatment. With regard to characterization, we have a fully equipped laboratory that is a benchmark for the physical, chemical and energy-related characterization of biomass and its solid biofuel derivatives. We also analyse the processes of deposit build-up, sintering and corrosion in furnaces. Bioeconomy involves the study and development of processes to obtain bioproducts with high added value, such as essential oils. We also evaluate the technical and economic viability and sustainability of the biomass value chain, including life-cycle analysis.
The production area has agricultural and forest land with continental Mediterranean climate available. It also has equipment for conducting fieldworks and for monitoring, measuring and recording data. It has harvesting and logistics equipment which include a BIOBALER WB-5 harvesting and baling system and a L.G. harvester-mulcher both adapted to forestry work; and a self-loading trailer equipped with a versatile crane for transporting up to 20 bales, along with wood chips or crushed/bundled biomass. Moreover, it has a set of pilot facilities that incorporate a number of technologies focusing on the industrial-scale study of biomass particle separation and size reduction, ranging from crushing bulky materials (e.g. bales and trunks) to fine milling to produce sizes of less than one millimetre. Besides, it has two pilot facilities that have been set up for the drying of biomass: a conventional rotary-drum dryer, and a hybrid solar dryer designed and patented by CEDER-CIEMAT. There are facilities and equipment for pelleting biomass as well. One of the facilities comprises a small, highly versatile and easy-to-handle press (20 to 40 kg/h), which is used for conducting rapid pelleting tests using small amounts of product. The other facility is larger and is equipped with a dosing and mixing line, and has a capacity of between 200 and 400 kg/h of pellets. The bioeconomy area has several distillers for the extraction of essential oils from the biomass coming from the production area. The characterization area has a Biomass Characterization Laboratory (LCB) which full equipped to perform more than 20 analysis including calorimetry, thermal analysis, organic elemental analysis, chlorine and sulphur analysis, inorganic elemental analysis and trace element analysis, among others.
The Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Unit of CIEMAT, which belongs to the Division of Renewable Energies, focusses on the sustainable utilization of lignocellulosic biomass with energetic purposes by means of efficient and low cost biotechnological processes. The Biofuels Unit is devoted to generating essential know-how to transform lignocellulosic biomass into value products that can be subsequently transferred to industry. The research investigation team is specialized in different biotechnological conversion processes and include as well analytic chemists, biochemists, and microbiologists. The Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Unit of CIEMAT has a suitable infrastructure to carry out the tasks proposed in the project. It includes a pilot plant for steam explosion pretreatment (2 and 10 L reactors), stirred autoclave reactors for hydrothermal pretreatment of biomass (0.5 and 2 L), a twin-screw extruder (10 kg/h continuous feeding capacity) to carry out the lignocellulosic biomass pretreatment works (task ); microbiology and biotechnology laboratory, equipped with laminar flow cabins, orbital shakers, pH meters, centrifuge, and autoclaves, optical microscope, ultrasonic system, freezer-dryer, and lab bioreactors (0.5 to 30 L) to carry out lactic fermentation (Task ) and analytic laboratory, equipped with UV-VIS spectrophotometers, gas chromatography, liquid chromatography (HPLC; HPL-SEC, HPAEC-PAD). Accelerated solvent extraction system and nitrogen analyzer (Kjeldhdal) to carry out characterization of raw materials, pretreated material, fermentation products.