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TWI brings Bio-Refinery Expertise to Colombia

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Tue, 10 March, 2020

TWI’s New Business Streams Manager, Alec Gunner was in Colombia from 15-23 February, 2020, where he attended the BERSTIC 2020 Conference on renewable energies in Bucaramanga.

During the conference, Alec delivered a presentation on bio-refineries with particular reference to the challenges of equipment design, materials and inspection. He also took a tour of the Universidad Cooperativa De Colombia.

The conference was hosted by the Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol. While Ecopetrol continues to diversify its energy portfolio into renewables, it is also interested in bio-refineries and the use of non-petrochemical feedstocks. TWI can help to progress this good work through our expertise and projects such as the ‘Africhar’ biofuel project.

As Colombia seeks to shake off the decades-long image of civil war and drug trafficking, different communities are coming together to offer solutions for local economies across the country. One example of this can be seen in the Wuasikamas enterprise in southern Colombia, which has seen local people take control of 22,283 hectares of land for the protection of the environment, while also growing coffee to support the local community. Coffee bushes are cut back every five years to allow them to regenerate and the woody biomass could be pyrolysed in a retort to produce methane which can be used for cooking or to power a generator; oils which act as a feedstock; and biochar which improves crop yield and serves as a carbon sink. Colombia is looking to use state subsidies to make such innovative solutions affordable for indigenous communities.

TWI is now exploring how the ‘Africhar’ project could be adapted for use in Colombia. TWI’s bio-refinery work with industry has not only demonstrated economic and environmental benefits, but also shows the societal and cultural impact such engineering projects can have around the world.

Alec Gunner presenting at the BERSTIC 2020 Conference
Alec Gunner presenting at the BERSTIC 2020 Conference

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