The Centre of Biological Engineering of the School of Engineering of UMinho is part of a cross-border project to produce biofuel from waste from the wine sector. The project is called Biovino and has a high environmental potential, namely in combating climate change, but also stands out for its strong economic impact by creating new industries in rural areas of the interior of Northern and Central Portugal.
This cross-border project, which has European funding of over 600,000 euros, brings together six research infrastructures from Portugal and Spain and its main aim is to provide the foundations for implementing a biorefinery (as the name suggests, it is an industrial platform that allows the use of biomass to produce fuel, electricity, heat and refined derivatives), which will allow by-products and waste generated by the wine sector to be used in a profitable and eco-sustainable way.
The aim is, from the perspective of promoting the circular economy, that products hitherto treated as waste can be transformed into new materials, namely advanced biofuels, bioplastics, organic acids, among others.
Lucília Domingues, the researcher responsible for this project at the CEB, highlights that the first step was to carry out a survey of the waste generated by the wine industry in northern and central Portugal and in the regions of Galicia, Castile and Leon in Spain. He also states that “this cross-border survey had never been carried out before and immediately highlighted its importance. On the other hand, the results that have been obtained demonstrate the real potential of this waste for recovery”.
The EEUM researcher gives an account of some advances made in the meantime, highlighting that the CEB team “is focused on the development of secondary biorefinery processes and has been working on the valorisation of wine waste for the production of biofuel, ethanol and also for the production of the sweetener xylitol, with very promising results.”
Biovino (Interreg V-A Spain-Portugal (POCTEP) 2014-2020 Project 0688_BIOVINO_6_E) also presents itself as an excellent opportunity to boost diversification, sustainability and profitability of the wine sector in the regions where it is aimed, since it proposes new strategies for the valorisation of by-products and waste, to transform them into new compounds with high added value, increasingly sought after by the industrial sector.
Project website: https://biovino.es/pt/proyecto-2/