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Special Issue "Energy and Environmental Evaluation of Biofuel and Forage Processing and Utilization Technologies"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2021) | Viewed by 7298

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Algirdas Jasinskas
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural Engineering and Safety, Faculty of Engineering, Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy, Studentu 15A, LT-53362 Akademija, Kaunas r., Lithuania
Interests: Renewable and sustainable energy; energy plants; agrobiomass and residues; woody biomass; solid biofuels; pressed biomass; biofuel properties; burning; harmful emissions; evaluation of technologies
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

An important purpose of this Special Issue is the presentation of new and actual research results of biofuel and forage processing and utilization technologies and technique. It is also important to evaluate these technologies from an energy and environmental point of view.

Main subject areas of this issue:

  • System analysis methods, including life cycle assessment and management
  • Sustainable chemistry
  • Sustainable utilization of resources such as land, water, atmosphere and other biological resources
  • New and renewable sources of energy
  • Sustainable energy preservation and regeneration methods
  • Land and aquatic ecosystems maintenance and biodiversity preservation
  • Effects of global climate change on development and sustainability

This Special Issue will present the results of research on plant growing, preparation, use for forage, and energy conversion processes of various herbaceous and woody plants, including the short rotation plants; the physical-mechanical, chemical and thermal characteristics of chopped and pressed plants and their residues; will investigate and determine the ash content and possibilities of ash utilization for plant fertilization, ash chemical composition and ash melting temperatures; will present the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and emissions of harmful pollutants (CO2, CO, NOx and CxHy) when plant biomass is prepared and used for energy conversion processes – incineration, gasification and pyrolysis; will carry out the full technologies of lifecycle assessment; and will present the results of energy and environmental evaluation of technologies, taking into account the economic and social aspects, and the sustainable development of people and their living quality.

This Special Issue will present state-of-the-art results for its intended purpose and will complement scientific information published in other scientific publications and journals.

Prof. Dr. Algirdas Jasinskas
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Biosystems engineering
  • sustainable development
  • forage production
  • soil processing
  • solid biofuel
  • energy plants
  • herbaceous plants
  • silage
  • agricultural residues
  • properties
  • chemical composition
  • calorific value
  • ash
  • life cycle assessment
  • emissions
  • social aspects
  • economy

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

Article
Determination of Properties of Loose and Granulated Organic Fertilizers and Qualitative Assessment of Fertilizer Spreading
Sustainability 2022, 14(7), 4355; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14074355 - 06 Apr 2022
Viewed by 564
Abstract
Precise and environmentally friendly fertilization is one of the most effective agrotechnical measures to improve crop yield, crop quality, and environmental sustainability. The aim of this study was to determine the uniformity of spreading of organic fertilizers on the soil surface at different [...] Read more.
Precise and environmentally friendly fertilization is one of the most effective agrotechnical measures to improve crop yield, crop quality, and environmental sustainability. The aim of this study was to determine the uniformity of spreading of organic fertilizers on the soil surface at different flows by evaluating the influence of the physical and mechanical properties of the fertilizers. The physical properties of organic fertilizers have been found to have a significant impact on the uniformity of fertilizer distribution. The investigation of fertilizer properties showed that the average moisture content of meat and bone meal granular fertilizers was 8.6 ± 0.2%, of cattle manure granular fertilizers—14.9 ± 1.5%, of dry lime—9.4 ± 0.1%, of wet lime—17.0 ± 1.1%, and of manure—66.7 ± 6.9%. It was found that the granules of cattle manure were more evenly spread on the soil surface (Gaussian coefficient 0.46) than the granules of meat and bone meal (g2 = 7.11). At the same time, manure was found to be most evenly distributed on the soil when dry lime was spread more evenly than wet. Simultaneously, it was revealed that the physical properties of the fertilizer, such as higher moisture, lower mass, granule length, and width, affected the uniformity of fertilizer distribution on the soil surface. Full article
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Article
Assessment of Quality Indicators of Pressed Biofuel Produced from Coarse Herbaceous Plants and Determination of the Influence of Moisture on the Properties of Pellets
Sustainability 2022, 14(3), 1068; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031068 - 18 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 516
Abstract
Three coarse herbaceous energy plants—such as Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis), sida (Sida hermaphrodita Rusby) and cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum L.)—were grown and investigated in the experimental fields of Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy, and the technical means of plant processing [...] Read more.
Three coarse herbaceous energy plants—such as Miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis), sida (Sida hermaphrodita Rusby) and cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum L.)—were grown and investigated in the experimental fields of Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy, and the technical means of plant processing and utilization for solid biofuel were investigated. The physical–mechanical properties and quality indicators (moisture content, biometrical properties, density, and resistance to compression) of coarse stem herbaceous plants milled and compressed into 6 mm diameter pellets were investigated. The moisture content of the tested pellets was sufficiently low and ranged from 8.7% to 9.6%. The highest density was that of sida pellets (1072.3 ± 43.4 kg m−3 DM), and the lowest density was that of Miscanthus pellets (713.5 ± 67.1 kg m−3 DM). In order to evaluate the influence of moisture content on the properties of biofuel pressed into pellets, the density and the destructive compressive force of the different-moisture pellets were investigated and their change in the range of 5–15% pellet moisture content was evaluated. Criterion k was calculated to determine the effect of moisture on the pellet quality indicators (density, destructive compressive force, and lower heating value), and the following results were obtained: the highest influence of moisture on density was observed in sida (k = 34.280), on destructive compressive force in Miscanthus (k = 14.5), and on the lower heating value, also in Miscanthus (k = 0.198). After a comprehensive investigation and evaluation of these properties, an empirical model suitable for practical use was developed and prepared. Emissions of harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxides, were determined when various coarse stem herbaceous energy plants were burned. The determined emissions of harmful gases into the environment did not exceed the permissible values. Full article
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Article
Evaluation of the Accuracy of Different PV Estimation Models and the Effect of Dust Cleaning: Case Study a 103 MW PV Plant in Jordan
Sustainability 2022, 14(2), 982; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14020982 - 16 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 377
Abstract
The estimation of PV production has been widely investigated previously, where many empirical models have been proposed to account for wind and soiling effects for specific locations. However, the performance of these models varies among the investigated sites. Hence, it is vital to [...] Read more.
The estimation of PV production has been widely investigated previously, where many empirical models have been proposed to account for wind and soiling effects for specific locations. However, the performance of these models varies among the investigated sites. Hence, it is vital to assess and evaluate the performance of these models and benchmark them against the common PV estimation model that accounts only for the ambient temperature. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the accuracy and performance of four empirical wind models considering the soiling effect, and compare them to the standard model for a 103 MW PV plant in Jordan. Moreover, the study investigates the effect of cleaning frequency on the annual energy production and the plant’s levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). The results indicate almost identical performance for the adopted models when comparing the actual energy production with R2 and RMSE (root mean square error) ranges of 0.93–0.98 and 0.93–1.56 MWh for both sub-plants, with a slight superiority of the models that incorporate wind effect. Finally, it is recommended in this study to clean the PV panels every two weeks instead of every three months, which would increase annual energy production by 4%, and decrease the LCOE by 5% of the two PV sub-plants. Full article
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Article
Investigation of Pressed Solid Biofuel Produced from Multi-Crop Biomass
Sustainability 2022, 14(2), 799; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14020799 - 11 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 383
Abstract
The paper presents the preparation and use of pressed solid biofuel of multi-crop plants (fibrous hemp (Cannabis sativa L.), maize (Zea mays L.) and faba bean (Vicia faba L.)) as mono, binary and trinomial crops. The results of the investigation [...] Read more.
The paper presents the preparation and use of pressed solid biofuel of multi-crop plants (fibrous hemp (Cannabis sativa L.), maize (Zea mays L.) and faba bean (Vicia faba L.)) as mono, binary and trinomial crops. The results of the investigation show that three main chemical elements (carbon, oxygen and hydrogen) accounted for 93.1 to 94.9% of the biomass pellet content. The moisture content varied from 3.9 to 8.8%, ash content from 4.5 to 6.8% and calorific value from 16.8 to 17.1 MJ·kg−1. It was found that the density (DM) of all variants of pellets was very similar; the faba bean biomass pellets had the highest density of 1195.8 kg·m−3 DM. The initial ash deformation temperature (DT) of burning biomass pellets was detected, which varied from 976 to 1322 °C. High potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) concentrations were found in all types of biomass ash. The quantities of heavy metals in pellet ash were not large and did not exceed the permissible values according to Lithuanian legislation. These chemical properties of multi-crop biomass ash allow them to be used in agriculture for plant fertilization. Full article
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Article
Application of Granular and Non-Granular Organic Fertilizers in Terms of Energy, Environmental and Economic Efficiency
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9740; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179740 - 30 Aug 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 944
Abstract
Granular organic fertilizers have been increasingly used in agriculture due to the longer delivery of nutrients to plants and the milder impact on the environment. The aim of this study was to determine the energy, environmental and economic efficiency of granular and non-granular [...] Read more.
Granular organic fertilizers have been increasingly used in agriculture due to the longer delivery of nutrients to plants and the milder impact on the environment. The aim of this study was to determine the energy, environmental and economic efficiency of granular and non-granular organic fertilizers. Four technological scenarios of organic fertilizer use were used for comparative assessment: (1) manure fertilization (16.0 t ha−1), (2) manure fertilization (30.0 t ha−1), (3) manure pellet fertilization (2.0 t ha−1), and (4) fertilization with meat and bone meal pellets (0.7 t ha−1). Experimental studies using the mass flow method of laser spectroscopy were performed to evaluate the comparative environmental impact of granular and non-granular organic fertilizers. Economic assessment was performed for mechanized technological operations of loading, transportation and distribution of organic fertilizers, estimating the price of aggregates used and fuel consumed, the costs of individual technological operations and other indirect costs. The results showed that for mechanized technological operations, when fertilizing with granular organic manure and meat and bone meal fertilizer, energy consumption is 3.2 to 4.0 times lower compared to fertilization with manure. The average ammonia (NH3) emissions from granular organic fertilizers were found to be six times lower than from non-granular organic fertilizers. The lowest costs for mechanized works were incurred when using meat and bone meal pellets, the highest economic benefits of organic fertilizers by elements was when using manure 30 t ha−1, and the highest costs for organic fertilizers were incurred when using manure pellets. Full article
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Article
Analysis of the Impact of Soil Compaction on the Environment and Agricultural Economic Losses in Lithuania and Ukraine
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7762; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147762 - 12 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 859
Abstract
Soil compaction (SC) is one of the most damaging degradation processes. The effects of compaction are closely related to crop losses and GHG emissions due to additional fuel use. It is therefore important not only to correctly monitor the condition of the soil [...] Read more.
Soil compaction (SC) is one of the most damaging degradation processes. The effects of compaction are closely related to crop losses and GHG emissions due to additional fuel use. It is therefore important not only to correctly monitor the condition of the soil and the restoration of damaged soil but also to understand the costs of excessive exploitation of soil and individual risks in different countries and continents. A model of equations has been developed to assess the effects of compaction that can be used on a national or even single farm scale. However, for its further application, more data should be collected. Based on the data available in the public domain, the damage caused by compaction was compared between Ukrainian (UA) and Lithuanian (LT) scenarios as these countries have a similar situation but different levels of soil resource management. Soil characteristics, such as soil types and predisposition to compaction, depending on its type, were assessed in both countries. The main parameters used to estimate the damage due to SC were: yield loss; additional fuel consumption; losses of N, P, K fertilizers, water pollution, and flooding; erosion; and GHG emissions. The results reveal potential annual losses due to compaction of around EUR 27 million for Lithuania and around EUR 1.6 billion for Ukraine. Expected potential average losses per hectare of arable land are about EUR 49 ha−1 y−1 for Ukraine (33.9 million ha or 56.76% of the total area) and about EUR 13 ha−1 y−1 for Lithuania (2.11 million ha or 33.77%). Potential crop losses are one of the costliest consequences of compaction. They could cost about EUR 1 billion annually for Ukraine and about EUR 10.7 million for Lithuania. Moreover, the additional use of fuel and the associated GHG emissions can probably take away EUR 180 million (UA) and about EUR 4 million (LT) each year. Full article
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Article
Assessment of the Use of Potatoes as a Binder in Flax Heating Pellets
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10481; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410481 - 15 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 629
Abstract
This article focuses on an examination of the possibility of using potatoes as a binder in the production of heating pellets from flax stalks. This research was carried out in the form of an experimental production, laboratory analyses, and combustion tests of pellets [...] Read more.
This article focuses on an examination of the possibility of using potatoes as a binder in the production of heating pellets from flax stalks. This research was carried out in the form of an experimental production, laboratory analyses, and combustion tests of pellets with the Biltstar variety of flax stalks. The production was carried out using an MGL 200 pelletizing line. Adéla potatoes were used as a binder at a dose of 10%. The results were compared to the control variant without the addition of potatoes. Potatoes had a positive effect on the mechanical properties of the pellets as well as on carbon monoxide emissions. A positive effect of the addition of potatoes was recorded by an increase in specific weight (599.2 kg/m3 for the potato-free variant and 1092.3 kg/m3 for the variant with potatoes) and a significant increase in mechanical durability (4.39% for the potato-free variant and 0.71% for the variant with potatoes). The biggest difference was measured in carbon monoxide emissions (13,082 mg/m3N for the potato-free mg/m3N ariant and 5186 mg/m3N for the variant with potatoes). The values were converted to a reference oxygen content of 10%. Full article
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Article
Analysis of Changes in Soil Organic Carbon, Energy Consumption and Environmental Impact Using Bio-Products in the Production of Winter Wheat and Oilseed Rape
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8246; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198246 - 07 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 769
Abstract
Agricultural management, environmentally friendly technologies, chemical, organic and bio-based substances used, as well as meteorological factors, have a significant impact on the fluctuations of soil organic carbon (SOC). The aim of this research was to analyze the effect of different biopreparations on the [...] Read more.
Agricultural management, environmentally friendly technologies, chemical, organic and bio-based substances used, as well as meteorological factors, have a significant impact on the fluctuations of soil organic carbon (SOC). The aim of this research was to analyze the effect of different biopreparations on the changes of SOC content and the winter wheat and winter oilseed rape yields by assessing the energy consumption efficiency and the environmental impacts. The experimental research was conducted from 2017 to 2019 in three different treatments, in two of which were used either a molasses and magnesium sulphate based-biopreparation (T1) or a bacteria-based biopreparation (T2), while treatment T3 was applied as a control where no biopreparations were used. The dynamics of SOC content were analyzed at two depths: 0–10 and 10–20 cm. For the analysis of energy efficiency indicators and environmental impacts, the greenhouse gas (GHG) and energy consumption conversion equivalents were used. A summary of the results showed that both types of biopreparations had a positive effect on the changes of SOC content, which was especially evident in the deeper layers at 10–20 cm depth, where, irrespective of the crop type, a more significant increase of the SOC content was observed every year of the experiment compared to the control treatment. Biopreparations had a significant effect in increasing the winter wheat and winter oilseed rape yield. The best energy efficiency ratio was observed in winter wheat (4.84) and winter oilseed rape (5.11) in treatment T1. The results of the environmental impact assessment showed that the lowest GHG emissions were recorded in the winter wheat production in treatment T1 at 108.7–149.1 kg CO2eq Mg−1, while the highest were observed in oilseed rape production in the control treatment T3 at 343.4 kg CO2eq Mg−1. Full article
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Article
The Dependence of Cocksfoot Productivity of Liming and Nitrogen Application and the Assessment of Qualitative Parameters and Environmental Impact Using Biomass for Biofuels
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8208; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198208 - 05 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 829
Abstract
In order to evaluate the liming and nitrogen efficiency of cocksfoot (Dactylisglomerata L.) productivity, a field experiment was performed in Western Lithuania’s naturally acidic Retisol area (55°43′ N, 21°27′ E). Based on seven years of research data, dry mass (DM) yield (including [...] Read more.
In order to evaluate the liming and nitrogen efficiency of cocksfoot (Dactylisglomerata L.) productivity, a field experiment was performed in Western Lithuania’s naturally acidic Retisol area (55°43′ N, 21°27′ E). Based on seven years of research data, dry mass (DM) yield (including first and second cuttings) reliably varied depending on the growing year, from 4.57 to 7.34 t ha−1. The most significant and positive impact on DM yield was obtained by the application of higher liming (6.0 t ha−1 CaCO3) and nitrogen (120 kg ha−1) rates. Liming utilization efficiency (LUE) was affected by the year of growth (although not always significantly), with a 6.0 t ha−1 CaCO3 liming rate and nitrogen fertilization. Nitrogen utilization efficiency (NUE) varied depending on the growing year and N fertilization rate. One of the most effective solutions for improving cocksfoot biomass is to prepare pressed granulated biofuel, which is potentially a good quality raw material for the direct combustion process. The execution and evaluation of technological parameters and properties of produced pellets revealed that cocksfoot pellet humidity reached 10.0% ± 0.6%, whereas pellet density was sufficiently high, and reached 983.8 ± 22.9 kgm−3 DM. The lower calorific value of cocksfoot pellets reached 17.7 MJkg−1. Ash content after pellet burning was relatively high, reaching 7.0–7.6%. Pellet ash melting temperatures were sufficiently high, with ash softening temperature (ST) reaching 1065 °C. Determined emissions of harmful gases from the burning of cocksfoot pellets (CO2, CO, SO2, NOx and unburnt hydrocarbons CxHy) did not exceed the permissible limits. Full article
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Article
Technical, Environmental, and Qualitative Assessment of the Oak Waste Processing and Its Usage for Energy Conversion
Sustainability 2020, 12(19), 8113; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12198113 - 01 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 678
Abstract
The article analyses and evaluates the possibilities of using oak bark, oak leaves, and their mixtures for biofuel. The preparation of this waste for the burning process (milling, granulation) has been investigated and the results have been presented together with the analysis of [...] Read more.
The article analyses and evaluates the possibilities of using oak bark, oak leaves, and their mixtures for biofuel. The preparation of this waste for the burning process (milling, granulation) has been investigated and the results have been presented together with the analysis of the prepared granules’ properties—humidity, density, strength, elemental composition, ash content, caloric value, and others. The moisture content of the oak waste granules ranged from 8.1% to 12.5%, and the granules’ density ranged from 975.8 to 1122.2 kg m−3 DM (dry matter). The amount of oak ash found was very high (from 10.4% to 14.7%)—about 10 times higher than that of wood waste granules. The calorific value determined after burning the oak bark and leaves pellets was sufficiently high, ranging from 17.3 to 17.7 MJ kg−1. This thermal value of oak waste granules was close to the calorific value of the herbaceous plant species and some types of wood waste. The environmental impact of burning the granules of oak waste was also assessed. The harmful emissions of carbon monoxide and dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and unburnt hydrocarbons into the environment were found to be below the permissible limits for the incineration of oak waste granules. The highest CO gas concentration, determined when burning the oak leaves, was 1187.70 mg m−3, and the lowest NOx concentration, determined when burning the oak bark and leaf mixture granules, was 341.2 mg m−3. The coefficient of energy efficiency R of the granulated oak leaves biofuel, when the oak waste biomass moisture content was reduced by 10%, reached 3.64. It was very similar to the results of previous studies of various types of granulated straw biofuel (3.5–3.7). The research results presented show that, given that the main parameters of oak waste meet the basic requirements of solid biofuel, oak bark, leaves, and their mixture can be recommended to be used as solid biofuels. Full article
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