KORE PlatformLaboratory of Energy and Environment (L.E.A.)

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The laboratory

The Laboratory of Energy and Environment (L.E.A.) has, among its main objectives, the commitment to be a valid tool for daily teaching, research and consulting activities towards third parties (public and private subjects) in the field of problems/opportunities concerning territorial energy planning, consumption rationalisation and energy efficiency in the various energy production and management systems.

In this area, particular attention has been paid in recent years, through various national/international collaborations and funded research projects, to new thermochemical and biochemical technologies to convert residual biomass to produce biofuels and advanced carbon materials.

Because of its aims, the Laboratory L.E.A. uses modern technologies and measuring instruments, able to guarantee the realisation of experimental and environmental monitoring activities, as well as energy analyses on biomass and biofuel samples.

The equipment of the L.E.A. for the energetic valorisation of residual biomass, together with other available analytical-instrumental equipment, include a torrefaction and pyrolysis reactor of horizontal fixed-bed type, borrowed from the British standard for the determination of coal quality (Gray King apparatus); a down-draft (drop-tube) type gasification reactor in stainless steel on laboratory scale a stirred and cooled hydrothermal carbonisation reactor (HTC, wet pyrolysis) with a volume of 500 ml, capable of treating wet biomass at temperatures and pressures of up to 300 °C and 150 bar respectively; an unstirred HTC reactor with a volume of 50 ml and three hydrothermal liquefaction reactors (HTL) with a volume of 25 ml each, with operating temperatures and pressures of up to 350 °C and 180 bar.

The L.E.A. Laboratory is located within the “KORE Platform” of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture of the University of Enna “Kore”.

Currently, the research team at L.E.A. is collaborating with several national (within the framework of a project of major national interest – PRIN) and international universities/research institutes (Imperial College London (UK), Queen Mary University London (UK), Cornell University Ithaca (NY), USA, etc.) in the thermochemical valorisation of residual biomass through innovative and environmentally sustainable processes.

Regulations and Decrees

The Laboratory LEA was established by Decree of the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture no. 11 of 06 June 2011.

The Decree above also identified the Head of the L.E.A. as Prof. Antonio Messineo. He was confirmed by the subsequent Presidential Decree no. 174 of 30 December 2016.


Prof. Antonio Messineo, Professor of Technical Environmental Physics and Head of the Laboratory

Ing. Maurizio Volpe, Ricercatore T.D. di Fisica Tecnica Ambientale

Fabio Codignole Luz, Research Fellow, Management Engineer, MBA in Business Management and PhD in Industrial Engineering.

Antonio Picone, Civil Engineer and PhD student at the L.E.A. Laboratory with a focus on the hydrothermal conversion of local residual biomasses and the study of new approaches for the reuse of process waste


The research carried out by the team of researchers at the L.E.A. Laboratory focuses on the development of energy-saving technologies and the production of energy from renewable sources, with particular attention to the exploitation of residual biomasses, with a view to the circular economy of resources and the mitigation of the environmental impact of energy production systems.

Specifically, particular attention has been paid in recent years to thermochemical technologies for the conversion of organic residual waste such as forestry, agricultural, agro-industrial, civil treatment beech, etc., for the production of solid (pyrolysis, hydrothermal carbonisation), liquid (pyrolysis and hydrothermal liquefaction) and gas (gasification) fuels.

Current research activities include:

  • Hydrothermal conversion technologies – carbonisation (HTC) and liquefaction (HTL) – aimed at exploiting organic waste with high moisture content for the production of bio-fuels (solid and liquid) and advanced materials for use in environmental mitigation (activated carbon for water and air remediation) and/or electrode materials (carbon electrodes);
  • Hydrothermal processes for the reduction and valorisation of anaerobic sludge and digestates (both civil and agro-industrial), for the production of soil improvers, for the increase of biogas production and the recovery of nitrogen and critical and strategic resources such as phosphorus;
  • Thermochemical treatments of residual biomass to increase the efficiency of anaerobic digestion processes for biogas production and subsequent up-grading to biomethane and hydrogen for sustainable mobility;
  • The synthesis of nanostructured carbon materials: from residual biomass, HTC/HTL and/or pyrolysis can be used to produce compounds that can be used in subsequent processes to create carbon nanowires and nanotubes for mechanical, electrical and electrode applications;
  • The direct production of green hydrogen through anaerobic digestion by specific high-efficiency bacteria fed by sunlight and residual organic matter;
  • The recovery of organic substances with high added value (antioxidants, compounds that can be used in nutraceuticals, etc.) by liquid-phase extraction from wet agro-industrial waste.


The L.E.A. Laboratory has the following equipment:

  • LECO AC 500 calorimeter
  • Thermogravimetric analyser LECO TGA 701
  • Carbolite muffle furnace mod.
  • CB EF1114230SN
  • Fixed tubular furnace (internal diameter 30 mm) Carbolite
  • Split Tube Furnace (inner diameter 60 mm) Saftherm – Henan Sante Furnace
  • Batch reactor Columbia Intl.
  • (HTC) high-pressure stainless steel (300 °C -150 bar) with a nominal volume of 500 mL equipped with stirring system, temperature-controlled oven and water circulation cooling system
  • High-pressure stainless steel batch reactor (HTC) (300 °C -150 bar) with a nominal volume of 50 mL
  • Three high-pressure batch reactors (HTL) (350 °C – 180 bar) nominal volume 25 ml
  • Prototype, laboratory scale, stainless steel gasification reactor, Downdraft type (drop tube internal diameter 50 mm)
  • Laboratory-scale prototype, horizontal fixed-bed quartz pyrolysis reactor, Gray-King Standard
  • Drying oven with forced ventilation, Binder series FD 115{4]
  • Retsch Ultra Centrifugal Mill ZM 200
  • Laboratory system for the anaerobic digestion (BMP determination) of residual biomass, consisting of six pyrex reactors of 1000 ml each

Research products and publications

Below are some of the publications/patents of the Research Group of the L.E.A. Laboratory in the areas of research of interest:

Multi-layer catalytic micro-gasifier for the gasification of residual biomass, Patent Certificate for Industrial Invention No. 102017000033911 dated 16/07/2019.
Assessment of olive wastes as an energy source:
Pyrolysis, torrefaction and the key role of H loss in thermal breakdown, Energy 82 (2015), 119-127, doi:
10.1016/j.energy.2015.01.011, ISSN:
0360-5442, Elsevier Science.

3D CFD analysis of vertical axis wind turbine, Energies 2015, 8 (4), 3013-3033, doi:
10.3390/en8043013, ISSN:
1996-1073, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.

Upgrade of citrus waste as a biofuel via slow pyrolysis, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis 115 (2015), 66-76, doi:
10.1016/j.jaap.2015.06.015, ISSN:
0165-2370, Elsevier Science.

Carbon footprint of tree nuts based consumer products, Sustainability 2015, 7 (11), 14917-14934; doi:10.3390/su71114917, ISSN:
2071-1050, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.

Upgrading of olive tree trimmings residue as biofuel by hydrothermal carbonization and torrefaction: a comparative study, Chemical Engineering Transactions, Volume 50 (2016), 13-18, doi:
10.3303/CET1650003, ISSN:

Catalytic effect of char for tar cracking in pyrolysis of citrus wastes, design of a novel experimental set up and first results, Chemical Engineering Transactions, Volume 50 (2016), 181-186, doi:
10.3303/CET1650031, ISSN:

Carbon reactivity in biomass thermal breakdown, Fuel, Volume 183 (2016), 139–144, doi:
10.1016/j.fuel.2016.06.044, ISSN 0016-2361, Elsevier Science.

Technical and economical assessment of biomass potential for power production: a GIS study in the south of Italy, Journal of Environmental Accounting and Management 4 (3) (2016) 287-299, doi:
10.5890/JEAM.2016.09.004, ISSN:
2325-6192, L & H Scientific Publishing.

Energy saving in water distribution network through pump as turbine generators: economic and environmental analysis, Energies 2016, 9 (11), 877, doi:
10.3390/en9110877, ISSN:
1996-1073, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.

Evolution of chars during slow pyrolysis of citrus waste, Fuel Processing Technology, Volume 158 (2017), Pages 255–263, doi:
10.1016/j.fuproc.2017.01.015, ISSN:
0378-3820, Elsevier Science.

An innovative adaptive control system to regulate microclimatic conditions in a greenhouse, Energies 2017, 10 (5), 722, doi:
10.3390/en10050722, ISSN:
1996-1073, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.

Energy and environmental assessment of a traditional durum-wheat bread, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 171 (2018), 1494-1509, doi:
10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.09.283, ISSN:
0959-6526, Elsevier Science.

Food waste recovery into energy in a circular economy perspective:
A comprehensive review of aspects related to plant operation and environmental assessment, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 184 (2018), 869-892, doi:
10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.02.267, ISSN:
0959-6526, Elsevier Science.

How can life cycle thinking support sustainability of buildings?
Investigating life cycle assessment applications for energy efficiency and environmental performance, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 201 (2018), 556-569, doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.08.080, ISSN:
0959-6526, Elsevier Science.
Investigating energy and environmental issues of agro-biogas derived energy systems:
A comprehensive review of Life Cycle Assessments, Renewable Energy 136 (2019) 296-307, doi:
10.1016/j.renene.2019.01.023, ISSN:
0960-1481, Elsevier Science.
Tomato puree production in the Apulia region:
Life Cycle Assessment of environmental issues, based upon data surveyed at the supply chain level, Journal of Cleaner Production 233 (2019), 292-313, doi:
10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.06.056, ISSN:
0959-6526, Elsevier Science.
Energy and environmental assessments of agro-biogas supply chains for energy generation: a comprehensive review, (2019) in:
Life Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems and Sustainable Energy Technologies.
Green Energy and Technology.
Springer, Cham, doi:
10.1007/978-3-319-93740-3_7, Print ISBN:

Application of Life Cycle Assessment in buildings – An overview of theoretical and practical information, in book:

The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning, Chapter:
32, pp.
372-381, doi:
10.4324/9781315179780-37, Taylor and Francis Group, 2019.

Energy and environmental assessments of agro-biogas supply chains for energy generation: a comprehensive review, (2019) in:
Basosi R., Cellura M., Longo S., Parisi M. (eds) Life Cycle Assessment of Energy Systems and Sustainable Energy Technologies.
Green Energy and Technology.
Springer, Cham, doi:
10.1007/978-3-319-93740-3_7, Print ISBN:
Application of Life Cycle Assessment in buildings – An overview of theoretical and practical information, in book:
The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning, Chapter:
32, pp.
372-381, doi:
10.4324/9781315179780-37, Taylor and Francis Group, 2019.
Assessing methane emission and economic viability of energy exploitation in a typical Sicilian municipal solid waste landfill”, Waste and Biomass Valorization, 10 (2019), 3173-3184, doi:
10.1007/s12649-018-0321-y, ISSN:
1877-2641, Springer.
Free radicals formation on thermally decomposed biomass, Fuel, Volume 255, 2019, 115802, doi:
10.1016/j.fuel.2019.115802 ISSN 0016-2361, Elsevier Science.
Biomethane recovery from olive mill residues through anaerobic digestion: a review of the state of the art technology”, Science of Total Environment, Volume 703, 10 February 2020, 135508, doi:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135508, ISSN:
0048-9697, Elsevier Science.
Reactivity of cellulose during hydrothermal carbonization of lignocellulosic biomass, Fuel Processing Technology, Volume 206, September 2020, 106456, doi:
10.1016/j.fuproc.2020.106456, ISSN:
0378-3820, Elsevier Science.
On the suitability of thermogravimetric balances for the study of biomass pyrolysis, Fuel, Volume 276, 15 September 2020, 118069, doi:
10.1016/j.fuel.2020.118069, ISSN:
0016-2361, Elsevier Science.
Energy and carbon footprint assessment of production of hemp hurds for application in buildings, Environmental Impact Assessment Review, Volume 84, September 2020, 106417, doi:
10.1016/j.eiar.2020.106417, ISSN:
0195-9255, Elsevier Science.
Evaluation of the optimal activation parameters for almond shell bio-char production for capacitive deionization, Bioresource Technology Reports, Volume 11, September 2020, 100435 doi:
10.1016/j.biteb.2020.100435, ISSN:
2589-014X, Elsevier Science.
Hydrothermal carbonization as an efficient tool for sewage sludge valorization and phosphorous recovery, Chemical Engineering Transactions, Volume 80 (2020), 199-2014, doi:
10.3303/CET2080034, ISSN:
Hydrothermal carbonization as a valuable tool for energy and environmental application: a review, Energies 2020, 13(16), 4098; doi:
10.3390/en13164098, ISSN 1996-1073, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.
Cationic Dye Adsorption on Hydrochars of Winery and Citrus Juice Industries Residues:
Performance, Mechanism, and Thermodynamics, Energies 2020, 13(18), 4686; doi:
10.3390/en13184686, ISSN 1996-1073, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.
Multiple energy school system for seasonal use in the Mediterranean area, Sustainability 2020, 12 (20), 8458; doi:
10.3390/su12208458, ISSN:
2071-1050, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.
Hydrothermal carbonization of lemon peel waste: preliminary results on the effects of temperature during process water recirculation” Applied System Innovation 2021, 4(1), 19; doi:
10.3390/asi4010019, ISSN:
2571-5577, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.
Feasibility of usage of hemp as a feedstock for anaerobic digestion:
Findings from a literature review of the relevant technological and energy dimensions, Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology Volume 51 (2021), Issue 11, 1129-1158 doi:
10.1080/10643389.2020.1745036, ISSN:
1064-3389, Taylor & Francis Group.
Process Water Recirculation during Hydrothermal Carbonization of Waste Biomass:
Current Knowledge and Challenges, Energies 2021, 14(10), 2962, doi:
10.3390/en14102962, ISSN 1996-1073, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.
Environmental assessment of a waste-to-energy practice: the pyrolysis of agro-industrial biomass residues, Sustainable Production and Consumption 28 (2021), 866-876, doi:
10.1016/j.spc.2021.07.015, ISSN:
2352-5509, Elsevier Science.
On the effect of citric acid during hydrothermal carbonization of pineapple waste: enhancement of energy and combustion properties of hydrochar via formation of secondary chars, Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery 2021, doi:
10.1007/s13399-021-01816-z, ISSN:
2190-6815, Springer Nature.
Industrial-scale hydrothermal carbonization of agro-industrial digested sludge: filterability enhancement and phosphorus recovery, Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9343; doi:
10.3390/su13169343, ISSN:
2071-1050, MDPI Publisher, Switzerland.
Potential pitfalls on the scalability of laboratory-based research for hydrothermal carbonization, Fuel, Volume 315, 1 May 2022, 123189, doi:
10.1016/j.fuel.2022.123189, ISSN:
0016-2361, Elsevier Science.


The L.E.A. Laboratory offers specific services for third parties (consultancy in territorial energy planning, energy production and conversion systems and their impact). In addition, it applies the rates approved and published by the Sicilian Region for certification tests.

Possible percentages of reduction of unit amounts for individual analyses or services may be applied concerning the number of tests required employing special agreements.
In the case of tests and/or services not foreseen in the price list, items will be formulated from a list specifically defined by the Laboratory Manager.

For information contact: Prof Antonio Messineo, antonio.messineo@unikore.it

Contacts and where we are

The LEA Laboratory is located inside the KORE Platform located in Polo scientifico e tecnologico di Santa Panasia


For info: Prof. Antonio Messineo, Full Professor of Environmental Technical Physics at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Office Phone +39 0935536448 e-mail: antonio.messineo@unikore.it.