The European SOSTRICE project gets underway this year with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions arising from the cultivation of rice and improving rice cultivation management in environmental and economic terms.
For this purpose, a new model for rice straw management and treatment has been developed. This model is based on combustion (combustion of straw with other waste) and anaerobic digestion technologies and the objective is to convert this by-product into energy.
The result is an applied technology that will enable reduced energy consumption, and the saving of water and fertilisers associated with the cultivation of rice, through the valorisation of waste and by-products generated in the process.
The stage for this demonstration project will be provided by the La Albufera Natural Park (Autonomous Community of Valencia) and the Doñana National & Natural Park (Marismas del Guadalquivir, Andalusia).
Installation of first prototype in the vicinity of La Albufera Natural Park in Valencia
This September will see the commencement of the building of the first prototype on a pilot scale of an anaerobic digestion plant configured specifically for the treatment of rice straw. Construction of the prototype is scheduled for completion in April 2015 and it will subsequently be installed in the vicinity of the La Albufera Natural Park in Valencia.
The aim with this technology is to convert the straw into clean energy (biogas) that can be used in the rice fields as fuel (biomethane), electrical bioenergy or in the form of heat. There are currently two management alternatives for this rice straw: burning or burial. Both options can give rise to environmental problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions.
La Albufera has an arable land surface area of 14,700 hectares, and it is calculated that between 8-12 tonnes of straw can be produced per hectare of land on which rice is grown.
The model also seeks to ensure that all the by-products generated in the straw treatment process are reused once again in the process, for example, as bionutrients for rice cultivation.
A series of experimental tests will be carried out (starting in September). These will examine the design, construction and commissioning of the prototypes for the valorisation of straw, taking account of the study of the influence of agricultural practices indentified in the cultivation of rice and also taking into account the technical, economic, and environmental assessment of the scenarios identified. For this purpose a lifecycle analysis approach will be adopted.
In addition, there will be environmental and socioeconomic monitoring of the actions carried out in the different harvesting seasons during the project period.