SWITZERLAND — Bühler is building a test center together with its Belgian partner Vyncke for recovering energy from biomass generated by Bühler’s Application & Training Centers in Uzwil.

The facility also will be used for demonstration and testing purposes with customers and for further development of integrated energy efficiency solutions.

“The Bühler-Vyncke test center is an important step for us in implementing our sustainability goals and is intended to serve as an example for energy recovery options in food and feed production,” said Johannes Wick, chief executive officer of Business Grains & Food at Bühler.

In Uzwil, Bühler operates a large number of application and training centers, where it tests new processes and recipes, such as grinding grains and cocoa or producing pasta and meat substitutes from pulses. Combined, these produce about 550 tons of biomass annually.

The plant, which is scheduled to go into operation in 2023, will become a cornerstone of heating energy at the Uzwil site and thus contribute to a significant reduction in the CO2 footprint.

Together with other measures already implemented at the site — such as the switch to wood pellets — this test plant is expected to reduce CO2 emissions for heating energy by over 60%.

Worldwide, food production of wheat, rice, soy, corn, and cocoa generates more than 1 billion tonnes of side streams. In many cases, these are used as an ingredient in animal feed or are used as a source of energy; some rot unused or have to be transported halfway around the globe for recycling.

“How these byproduct streams can be used most appropriately must be analyzed and determined on a case-by-case basis,” Wick said. “What is clear, however, is that energy generation from biomass as an integrated part of process solutions for food has not been systematically developed and therefore has an enormously high potential, both from a business and sustainability perspective.”

In order to objectify the findings of the test plant, the project is being scientifically supported by the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research EMPA.

Among other things, it will be investigated whether the boiler ash can be reused. Depending on the product that is burned, the ash could be a good basis for fertilizer or used in building material production.

With over 100 years of experience and craftsmanship in the field of combustion technology, Vyncke engineers and build industrial energy plants that convert biomass and industrial waste into clean energy.

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