During the last decades, the economic profitability of forestry in the Apennine mountains has been declining, due to multiple socio-economic and environmental reasons (e.g., general depopulation of mountain areas, reduction of the number of forestry operators). Despite this picture, forest ecosystems are still a potential economic driver,
especially for marginal rural mountain areas, where the forest is the most common source of the biomass.
However, the woody biomass is mostly used as firewood, a low-profitable activity. In this view, the economic enhancement of waste woody material from forestry (e.g., wood processing scraps and branches) could contribute in improving the efficiency of existing wood-energy chains and promote the construction of new chains at a local scale.
The collection of waste woody material could benefit from other activities, not directly aimed at energy production: environmental requalification of marginal rural lands invaded by alien woody species; prevention of hydraulic risk; fire prevention activities resulting from cleaning up the forest margins; grassland restoration activities consisting in cutting shrubs, to improve the conservation status of habitats of community interest.
In this context, the LEAF project proposes to survey local forest resources, with the aim of isolate and characterize sources with high lignin or cellulose content.
Unprocessed forest scraps will then be used as starting materials for two kinds of production: (i) starting materials for Li-ion and Na-ion battery electrodes (hard carbons as active materials, cellulose derivates as binders), with high added value; (ii) biomaterials for packaging applications, offering very high-volume production opportunities.
The performances of the synthesized materials for their respective applications will be then characterized, and the sustainability and scalability of production processes will be evaluated.

FAR 2019
€ 49.200