Biorefinery Glas is a small-scale farmer-led biorefinery in Ireland, supporting the development of new business models and farmer diversification into the circular bioeconomy.
It is the RDS Sustainable Rural Innovation Award Runner Up, as announced last week.
It is a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Operational Group the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine funds under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
The Institute of Technology, Tralee is leading the project. It is supported by five partners including the Barryroe Co-operative, the Carbery Group, GRASSA B.V. and University College Dublin.
The project aims to improve the sustainability, value and resource efficiency of Ireland’s livestock sector through farmer diversification into the bioeconomy.
Over the last year, the project has been demonstrating a replicable small-scale biorefinery with farmers in the West Cork Region.
Through biorefinery, farmers can produce four products from a single input, fresh grass. In doing so, they can help meet key farmer challenges including income, protein availability and emissions.
According to those involved, the project is a first step towards changing the role of farmers in the bioeconomy, from suppliers of cheap biomass to producers of finished and semi-finished products.
This, they added, allows farmers to play a more value-added role in Ireland’s emerging low carbon economy.
“We separate grass into four fractions. A fraction of which can be fed back to cows, a protein concentrate, which can be fed to monogastrics, a high-value stream of fructooligosaccharides and a residual stream which can be used as fertiliser or for the production of biogas.”
“This project is more sustainable because it is allowing us to utilise grass in better ways. At the moment, grass is only really utilised by cows, horses, sheep.”
“This is allowing us to come up with new food chains, new supplies for the grass and the crude protein that is coming from it.”