In India there are large volumes of generated biomass and biomass residual streams. According to many studies reports, experts and officials, these biomass streams constitute a huge potential for biomass for biopower, biofuels and biomaterials that can shift the Indian energy matrix and create new biobased value- and productive chains.

However, a substantial part of these streams are currently going unused. Especially the streams from municipal waste and wastewater and agricultural waste are not easily accessible being mostly generated in a decentralized manner. Next to that, the traditional and often inefficient and harmful uses of these streams, (e.g. fuel for cooking, fertilizing through burning post-harvest residuals in the field in the agricultural context and the current practice of dumping MSW in dumpsites and discharging wastewater directly or indirectly into rivers and waterbodies compete with non-conventional and high-value uses such as power generation, biofuels and biomaterials.


The proposed method for unlocking these decentralized biomass streams is to create incentives for local, urban and rural communities to collect the biomass (residuals) and make them available for non-conventional uses. This is done through the development and deployment of suitable technologies for small scale, low cost power generation and distribution, producing an alternative to traditional uses and through local preprocessing of excess biomass for utilization by regional industry and agriculture.

Biomass For All initiates, develops and implements a small cluster of pilot projects showcasing a methodology and technology-portfolio suited for local communities, industry and commerce to transition from the inefficient and polluting traditional uses of biomass, or not making any use of biomass at all, to more efficient, advanced uses of the same streams. This will lead to direct benefits for the communities

This way, productivity is increased with the opportunity for new ventures for biomass collection and processing while both the built and natural environment are becoming unburdened from negative impacts. Sharing the added value of biomass processing upstream in the value-chain can anchor the continuity of a stable biomass supply to a regional biobased productive chain that previously was only partially or non-existent.

Content: From Rishra to Sundabar (FRTS)

With our partner in India, Symbio GreenTech we develop FRTS as the first urban pilot of Biomass for All within the " Low Carbon & Climate Resilient Kolkata” context.

A project area has been delineated in the municipality of Rishra where we will collaborate with both the private (a large flax-yarn factory) and public sectors (Rishra Municipal Corporation).

In this area we will develop a 5 interventions aimed at significantly reducing the direct discharge into the Ganges river of contaminated industrial and domestic wastewater. The heavily contaminated river has a role in the degradation of the downstream Sundarban mangrove ecosystem. By implementing these interventions in a concentrated urban area, where water (quality) measurements and monitoring can be integrated into this cluster of pilot-projects, the reduction of the discharge of contaminated wastewater can be conclusively set-off against the available data on the extent of direct and indirect degradation of the mangrove forests as a result of urban activity.

Flax-yarn linen factory - Wastewater & sludge treatment and processing

The on-site wastewater treatment, sludge collection and processing. There are 2 processes with intensive water usage: 1.)washing the flax-yarn, with the use of detergents. In this process a simple water-treatment process suffices to upgrade the water for re-use and discharge. This process generates 2 types of biomass: flax-yarn combings and the sludge from the washing process; 2.) The bleaching and dyeing process; this wastewater contains contaminants from dyes and bleaching agents. The wastewater treatment can be geared towards the recovery of compounds for re-use in dyes and other chemical compounds for different applications. Currently the sludge of this process is collected monthly for transportation to a remote dumpsite. This sludge could also be treated for compound-recovery and a subsequent biomass-to-energy application.

Both processes can be adapted so as to provide the factory with re-usable water, bioenergy and recovered compounds for its own industrial operation and selling-off for other applications (such as fertilizers etc.).

Waterbodies - Bio-phytonic and Microbial Water Remediation

There are various contaminated waterbodies scattered throughout the Rishra municipal area, one of which is on the property of the flax-yarn factory. As a CSR project, the factory aims to remediate this waterbody. The remediation is planned through bio-phytonic and microbial treatment techniques, for instance in the form of floating gardens. This methodology could be applied to other waterbodies in the area as well.

The waterbodies communicate with underground sewage pipes that discharge untreated wastewater into the river, and their ongoing remediation and monitoring is an important link in an integrated approach to significantly reduce that discharge as well as being able to use the waterbodies as reservoirs for re-use water products (for instance for industrial cooling, grey water applications and irrigation of the nearby rice-paddies. Adaptive water (quality) management in the area can help to optimize the waterbodies’ multiple uses.

Dumpsite - Capping, Soil & Groundwater Remediation with Energy-Crops

A large dumpsite constitutes a sizable area of contaminated soil and 2 large contaminated waterbodies. Recently, through a Indo-Japanese joint-venture, a new MSW separation facility has been implemented on the site. Through capping the contaminated soil with energy crops such as Miscanthus, Arundo Dax, Vetiver and Bamboo, combined with microbial techniques the soil and groundwater is remediated, whilst providing substantial volumes of biomass for the local generation of biopower. Similarly, through bio-phytonic techniques the waterbodies can be remediated. Subsequently, the are can be developed according the municipalities zoning plan.

Domestic Area - Decentralized Black & Grey Water Treatment

A small domestic neighborhood where currently black and grey water is collected into sewage pipes and directly discharged in the river will serve as a pilot area for wastewater and sludge treatment collection and processing making use of pathogen determination techniques and the recovery of nutrients from by microalgae. Part of the treatment process will entail clustered infra for the collection and processing of black water and the treatment of grey water through productive green areas, combining microbial treatment through plant-rhizospere and contaminant uptake through secondary plant-metabolism. Blackwater can be used for the production of biogas as a cooking-fuel and biomaterials, whereas grey water can be processed for water re-use: the sludge from both processes can be used as a feedstock for biopower and biomaterials.

Rice Paddies

To the west of the project area are rice paddies that currently contaminate through the run-off of agrotoxins in the groundwater, eventually ending up in the river, whereas the irrigation of the fields poses a disturbance in the natural flow and levels of groundawater. Through PV powered irrigation with re-use water, making use of biofertilizer, both generated though the other pilot project components here described, the negative impacts of this agricultural practice can be significantly reduced, as well as the operational costs for the farmers. The use of bioherbi-, insect- and pesticides further reduce contamination whereas the introduction of additional and alternative crops for bioenergy & biomaterials, biomass-to-biopower, biofuels (e.g. rice straw for second generation bio-etanol) and biomaterials can diversify the agricultural practice, increasing the resilience and economic self-determination of the farmers community.

Canal Restoration

By using constructed wetland techniques suited for flowing water and remediating the canal banks, a canal in the pilot project area will be continuously remediated, and, as such, bring about an additional means of reducing the direct discharge of pollutants and contaminants into the river.

Monitoring, Data Gathering & Upscaling

The groundwater, waterbodies, sewage pipes, open sewers, service pipes and canals all communicate with one another in the pilot-project area. Through the methodology of the interventions it will be possible to perform ongoing measurements of the presence of contaminants and pollutants in the different types of wastewater. This way, through sensor technology and adaptive water management tools, an integrated system for water management geared towards unburdening the river from negative impacts can be achieved. Even though the interventions will be implemented in an isolated context, the measured results can serve for designing and planning the upscaling to larger urban areas, gradually unburdening the river, creating a more conducive context for the downstream regeneration and preservation of the Sundarban mangrove ecosystem. As the riverbank urban activities and texture is rather similar throughout the Kolkotta metropolitan area, upscaling can be initiated subsequent to the implementation and operation of the pilot-project interventions their evaluation and the optimizing of the employed technologies, techniques and methodologies.

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