MTU leads €2m biomass project to reduce emissions

4 Dec 2023

The BBioNets team at the MTU Bishopstown campus. Image: MTU

The BBioNets project aims to promote the use of zero-waste practices in the agriculture and forestry sectors while fostering growth.

Two Irish entities are leading a European project that aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote the reuse of biomass.

Munster Technological University (MTU) and the Circular Bioeconomy Research Group (CircBio) are spearheading a new research group, which aims to help farmers and foresters use bio-based technologies – which involves non-food feedstock and circularity principles – to reduce emissions.

This group is called BBioNets and will set up six Forest and Agriculture Networks (FANs) in Ireland, Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland and the Czech Republic. The three-year project has been awarded nearly €2m in funding and will include support from bioeconomy experts, who will share data and findings over the course of the project.

The overall goal is to support the use of zero-waste practices in these sectors and promote a circular economy by reusing biomass – organic material that comes from plants and animals and is used for bio-energy production. The project also aims to ensure all value comes from these sustainable practices.

“BBioNets is an excellent example of the network structure that generates meaningful impact,” said MTU head of research Dr Niall Smith. “It integrates subject expertise with living laboratories where ideas can be tested and processes improved. It encourages participation with local communities in a truly multidisciplinary, engaged research approach.”

MTU said the project also has an inclusion element as it will revolve around young farmers and foresters, as well as women and unemployed people. The project aims to support the long-term future of local communities and showcase employment possibilities.

Carmen Giron-Dominguez, a research project manager with CircBio, said the project will enhance efficiency and effectiveness “across various roles and locations” in the agriculture and forestry sectors.

“In Ireland, we will listen to Irish farmers and foresters’ true needs with regards to adopting bio-based technologies and bring knowledge of the best technologies and practices available from throughout Europe so they can adopt them and contribute to boost circular bioeconomy in Ireland,” Giron-Dominguez said.

“The consortium will apply a ‘BBioNets for everyone’ concept to target a horizontal audience for each of its activities, wishing to plant seeds that might bloom beyond our primary target – farmers and foresters – and beyond the end of the project.”

Last year, MTU and CircBio teamed up on the Robin project, which aims to help EU regions hit their circular bioeconomy goals by analysing policies, reviewing good practices and developing new governance models.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic