The Biowert circular economy

A true circular economy is not limited to the recycling of solid waste. It consists of several different cycles that complement each other. At Biowert we generate renewable energies, collect rainwater and use the grass, our renewable resource, as completely as possible.

Our production starts with freshly cut grass that we receive several times a year from local farmers. The grass is stored in a concrete silo. After compaction, the grass is covered airtight. This allows naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria to multiply and ferment the sugars in the grass – similar to the production of sauerkraut.

The ensiling process is an important part of the Biowert Circular Economy because it prepares the grass for the next step. The fermentation makes it easier to separate the soft components from the solid cellulose fibres, so that they only need to be washed out with warm water. The cleaned cellulose can then be skimmed, dried and further processed.

The grass juice with the soft organic matter is fed into our biogas plant and mixed with food waste. We receive this biomass from companies in the region, allowing them to dispose of their waste sustainably.

The circular economy consists of several complementary cycles

The second stage of fermentation is carried out by other microorganisms. Instead of lactic acid, they produce methane – the biogas that we use to generate heat and electricity in our combined heat and power plants (CHPs). We need the waste heat from the CHPs to warm the process water for the biorefinery, to dry the cellulose fibres and to cover the heat demand of the biogas plant.

The electricity is sufficient to power the entire plant and feed the majority into the public grid as green electricity. Thus, the biovalue circular economy does not consume energy, but actually generates a surplus.

The cycle ends where it began

When the fermentation in the biogas plant is complete, a digestate containing important nutrients remains. We concentrate it and deliver it as fertiliser AgriFer to the farmers who supply us with grass. In this way, the nutrients of the grass return to the meadows.

The final cycle of the Biowert circular economy is AgriPlast. If the material is made with polypropylene or polyethylene, it can be fully recycled – and compounds with biodegradable polymers can even be composted. If this is done consistently, the material cycle is also completely closed.

How the circular economy works

Circular economy means that a product can be manufactured and recycled without generating waste or wastewater – nothing is lost from production to disposal. As a result, the circular economy is highly sustainable.

As natural resources are finite, all industrial production processes will need to become circular in the future. Biorefineries will play an important role in this. The German association of engineers VDI has therefore published guideline 6310 “Classification and quality criteria for biorefineries”. Our plant is the only practical example mentioned in the guideline – it is a unique pioneer of the circular economy.

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