This startup plans to produce energy from hemp biomass
A French startup says it will soon be testing the use of hemp biomass to produce energy, and plans to enter full production in 2022. Qairos Energies, based in Mareil-en-Champagne near du Mans in northwestern France, said it will produce hydrogen that will be converted into electricity for fuel cells which will supply the buses and trains. This operation will also produce methane for the exclusive natural gas distribution network in France and the leading distributor in Europe.
The hemp will be transformed through a gasification process in which the hemp biomass is crushed and subjected to high temperatures which will transform it into methane, hydrogen and CO2.
Qairos said it will source local hemp within a 35-kilometer radius of its production project, relying on the 150 members of Fermiers de Loué, an agricultural cooperative, to provide the biomass. A small first harvest this summer will be used for trials to finalize the industrialization and development processes, said Jean Foyer de Qairos.
Where will the hemp be produced?
The French natural gas company Qairos Energies will produce fuel from hemp. According to his Press release, this process will be non-polluting, because it will crush the hemp and heat it to a very high temperature.
Mr. Foyer, an automotive engineer by training, has declared that the goal for next year is to get local farmers to plant 350 hectares to start operations in 2022. Ultimately Qairos will need 1000 hectares of hemp to be fully operational. The energy will be used locally to keep the high costs of transporting hydrogen down, Foyer said.
The idea of the operation of energy production was born when Foyer started talking to Magalie Rhodé, a local farmer and chicken breeder who is also a small hemp producer.
Rhodé, the first farmer to sign a contract to supply Qairos, said she intended to increase her hemp fields from a few hectares now to 30 hectares in the next five years.
The French professional hemp union (SPC) included energy among the sectors it recommends for development in a recently released manifesto, in which it expressed concerns that France's hemp sector, Europe's largest, could fall behind. compared to those of other European countries.
Through this process, the heat will turn the hemp into gas and from there it will extract methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
The company that will produce fuel from the hemp expects that each gas extracted will be resold and used for different purposes. For example, synthetic methane will be injected into the gas network, while hydrogen will be converted into fuel for vehicle batteries. As for CO2, it will be sold to the food industry.
This project is supported by the Pays de la Loire region, BPI France and the Center Métropolitain du Mans Sarthe.
It is without doubt a very versatile plant that can be used to generate sustainable energy; in fact, it could also be used in our kitchens or for clothes, or even very soon there will be boats built with hemp.
The use of this plant is done with a minimum of waste, because luckily it is used from the stem to the flower.