The challenge-led MISCOMAR+ will extend the evidence-base for Miscanthus as a leading perennial bioenergy crop for Marginal, Contaminated and industrially damaged Lands
(MaCL) using interdisciplinary academic and industrial expertise with novel Miscanthus hybrids bred for climate change resilience.
The specific objectives are as follows:
1. To decrease the risk of low establishment rates on MaCL by evaluating a range of agronomic treatments with Miscanthus hybrids on three sites
MISCOMAR+ establishment trials will be performed on land reconstituted after lignite mining in Germany, and heavy metal contaminated land in Poland. At these sites we will test a range of soil preparation techniques and a soil amendment product combining biochar and microbial inoculants to aid establishment.
2. To monitor long term yield persistence, biomass quality and impacts on soil health indicators
The benefits of perennial crops such as Miscanthus include long term soil stabilisation and soil health improvements. Root and rhizome penetration into soil have potential to decrease soil bulk density and increase water infiltration and organic matter. This rhizospheric activity, combined with leaf mulch, contributes to soil fertility through improved nutrient capture, retention and cycling. Few field trials extend beyond 4 years due to normal project funding cycles. MISCOMAR+ will extend baseline work from MISCOMAR to quantify long term effects of MaCL on crop performance, and impacts of Miscanthus on environmental sustainability indicators. Biomass supplied from these trials will be used for biomass valorisation work.
3. To develop and optimize sustainable, economic and environmental-friendly valorization options for biomass from MaCL
We will explore the potential for conversion through gasification with recovery of contaminants after gasification. The main and co-products of gasification depend on the feedstock quality and process settings. In MISCOMAR+ biomass from the long-term HM trial in Poland will used for i) thermochemical gasification tests, with quantification for energy and contaminants, and (ii) biomass cleaning by and post processing opportunities with recovery of valuable metals by ionic extraction (phytorecovery). Gasification residues will also be tested for suitability as fertiliser. In Germany, the potential for uncontaminated Miscanthus fibres for the manufacture of packaging paper will be tested.
4. To perform analyses of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of growing the crop on MaCL, and using it in selected valorisation chains