The cultivation of energy plants on therwise wasted soils


CALL: 2008

DOMAIN: SR - Sustainable Building and Bioenergy

FIRST NAME: Jean-François

LAST NAME: Hausman




KEYWORDS: Bio-energy production

START: 2009-01-01

END: 2011-12-31


Submitted Abstract

Many plants produce oil as an energy-storage compound. While numerous vegetal sources of sugars andpolymers thereof are currently used in studies to assess their productivity in the form of energy, the arrayof plants that can be harvested for the production of oil is more limited. Typically and in all plantsactually used for the production of oil, the concentrations are highest in seeds. Sunflower (Helianthusannuus L.) and oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) are two important sources of plant oil destined forbiofuel production in the European Union. Because both plants produce a high biomass; a further energygain can be made through the production of energy in the form of biogas or heat.Environmental pollutants are a major concern for the current and future generations living in large partsof Europe. Although a wide range of compounds can be seen as pollutants, pollution of soils by heavymetals is considered to be one of the most eminent problems. Because of the strict threshold values forheavy metals in foodstuff applied by the European Community and the fact that most heavy metalcontaminants in foodstuff originate from the soil, several 10000 ha agricultural land should be taken outof food production in Germany alone. Remediation of contaminated soil is currently mainly done throughchemical and physical methods. However, these methods are often prohibitively expensive and result inthe large-scale destruction of soil structure and fertility. Phytoextraction, the use of plants to extractpollutants from the soil, is a cheap and non-disruptive alternative for the remediation of polluted soilresources. Despite a huge potential market, phytoremediation in Europe is still in its infancy, mainly dueto the fact that during remediation the soil is not productive.In this project, we propose to assess the potential of energy production of oil-producing plants whengrown on heavy metal polluted soils and to understand the impact of the presence of heavy metals in thesoil on the oil accumulation in the plants. The tasks of the project consist thus in- monitoring and improving the germination of seeds of sunflower and oilseed rape on heavy metalcontaminated substrates in controlled environment,- assessing the impact of heavy-metal pollution on the production of vegetal oil from a physiologicalpoint of view using different biochemical and genoproteomic approaches,- comparing these two oil-producing crops with short rotation coppice of willow on control andcontaminated soils,- evaluating the behaviour of these 2 3 crops in the field and the influence of heavy metalcontamination on their yield and tolerance to environmental constraints,- assessing the potential of combined energy production (biofuel with seeds, biomethanisation withleafy material (sunflower, raped and willow) and biothermal energy with the woody parts of the willows)and remediation of polluted soils including whether energy production on these soils can counterbalancethe energetic cost of the remediation effort. To this end, the metal content in all matrices (soil, planttissue and oil) will be analyzed first of all to test the possibility to use the produced oil for energyproduction and secondly to test the remediation potential.

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