Le Roux sees his investment as working capital for the expansion of Terrravesta. The company is conducting research into applications made from Miscanthus and the cultivation of this plant from seeds. Miscanthus normally multiplies through rhizomes that creep under the ground and reappears, creating a new plant. It is a fairly slow process. According to Terravesta, the cultivation can be speeded up 200 times by planting seeds.
According to Terravesta this is necessary, as more and more markets are opening up for Elephant grass as an energy source, for natural fibers and bio-based chemistry and materials. The plant can also serve for the production of animal feed or to enhance soil health in a natural way.
On an international scale, Terravesta participates in the GRACE consortium. GRACE is a European project subsidized by Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI-JU). It aims to guarantee a reliable and affordable supply of sustainably produced biomass and to improve the link between biomass producers and the processing industry. The cultivation is ideal for land that can not be used for food production because of contaminants or low yields.
According to Alex Robinson, operations manager at Terravesta, there are numerous future markets interested in Miscanthus: “We work with industrial partners to discover a wide variety of applications, from new fiber technology to building materials through use to restore soil, to biorefining.” Robinson is thinking of products such as biodegradable plastics, packaging, furniture, high-grade chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
In the Netherlands, Vibers is involved in the valorization of Miscanthus. Agro & Chemie recently published an article about this company from the Biobased Delta region.