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Periodic Report Summary 1 - PILOT-ABP (Pilot plant for environmentally friendly animal by-products industries)

Project Context and Objectives:
Industries dedicated to the recovery of animal origin by-products are characterised by the use of by-products from meat processing industries as raw materials. For this reason, they are considered as high strategic environmental value enterprises, taking into account that they turn animal by-products into useful materials, which would otherwise represent waste of difficult disposal.
It has been estimated that during the slaughtering of pigs and cattle, around 25 % and 50 % of the live weight of the animal respectively is not used for human consumption and, therefore, this must be disposed of or, as encouraged by Directive 2008/98/CE on wastes, recovered and reused.
Animal by-products are characterised by a high level of water content that can promote microorganism proliferation that, in turn, leads to their decomposition and environmental pollution. The most typical way of treating this material for its recovery is by processing with heat, both to evaporate the water content and to sterilise the material. This process is known as “Rendering”.
Currently, the main final products of the rendering industrial activity are animal fats and meals. Meals are stabilised protein-rich products that used to be employed in fodder manufacturing for animal feeding, fertilisers and other products. Fats are usually classified as tallow (beef and sheep rendered fat) or lard (pork rendered fat); even though there is a more precise definition which denominates tallow to fats which have a titre (fluidising temperature) higher than 40ºC, and lard to the fat which has a lower titre. There exist many types of rendering processes all over the world but, in general, most of them refer to the processing of high fat raw materials. Most of them have been adapted to legislative changes during recent years, especially in Europe.
As a result of this recovery, animal by-products from slaughterhouses used to provide a valuable source of this industry income, since most of them, once processed, were important ingredients of animal feed. For this reason, they were known in the industry as the ‘fifth quarter’. Nevertheless, in recent years, especially because of the burden of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, this application has been restricted in the European Union and, as a consequence, the value of the fifth quarter materials has reduced substantially and much of the material previously used is now disposed of as waste.
Within this context, PILOT-ABP project aims at developing new eco-innovative technologies associated to the animal by-products process, which will allow an environmental improvement of the process, thanks to a more efficient energy use during the process and enhanced recovery of raw materials, with the related decrease in waste production. Furthermore, an increase of the added value of products thereby obtained will lead to an improvement of the SMEs’ competitiveness.
The specific objectives of the PILOT ABP project are:
- Application of new extraction technologies in order to obtain animal oils with higher oleic acid content.
- Obtaining of biodiesel from animal oils for partial substitution of use crude fuels use and decreasing of pollutant emissions.
- Application of low temperature pyrolysis techniques to meat and fish protein flour for bio-oil obtaining, as a source of chemical products, and coal for reducing the consumption of natural energy sources.
- Obtaining of protein based products for manufacturing functional and biodegradable biopolymers that are more ecological and sustainable.
In order to achieve the overall objectives, PILOT ABP project will address the main products of the animal by-products industry, by developing the following demonstration plants:
- Pilot plant for hydrothermal liquefaction pyrolysis (HTL)
- Pilot plant for obtaining high oleic acid oils
- Pilot plant for obtaining protein based biopolymers

Project Results:
During the first reporting period, from 1st June 2014 to 30th November 2015, the project has made suitable progress according to the schedule envisaged in the proposal.
PILOT-ABP work plan is broken down into 7 work packages. RTD activities within WP1 “System Framework: Requirements – Identification of priorities – Overall specifications” and WP2 “Pilot plants design” have been successfully completed.
WP1 focused on the analysis of the overall requirements for each pilot plant and the establishment of the specifications while researching about environmental-process knowledge as well as properties of raw materials and desired products. Both industrial and R&D partners involved in each pilot plant decided to make an initial mock-up specification which has been used as the starting point for the following WPs. Technical parameters and specifications for the 3 pilot plants have been reported in Deliverable 1.1. Furthermore, Deliverable 1.2 includes the runs carried out at a lab scale and conclusions related to the scale up of HTL plant. At the end, a flow diagram for ABPs between the different plants was established in Deliverable 1.3. WP1 was successfully completed in January 2015. Consequently, Milestone MS1 “Specifications of pilot plants” was achieved by the end of January 2015.
Within WP2, the selection/design of all technical characteristics that comprise the final drawing of each pilot plant has been undertaken, including: selection of most suitable building materials according to the process requirements, establishment of dimensions, flows, pipelines, components, operational conditions, etc. and sustainability aspects of each pilot plant.
In particular, Task 2.1 focused on the design and technical characteristics for the HTL pyrolysis pilot plant. As a result, Deliverable 2.1 includes technical characteristics of the reactor, furnace and fraction separation of the HTL plant. The design plan for this plant was reported in Deliverable 2.2. Task 2.2 aimed at establishing technical characteristics and design for the high value oil pilot plant. All the obtained results at lab scale were included in Deliverable 2.3 and Deliverable 2.4. Furthermore, research activities within Task 2.3 aimed at the establishment of technical requirements and further design of the pilot plant for functional biopolymers. Deliverable 2.5 included detailed information about the obtained results. WP2 was successfully completed in December 2015 (initially scheduled in October 2015). Consequently, Milestone MS2 “Design – Technical Approach” has been achieved.
Moreover, demonstration activities within WP3 “Demonstration plant for HTL pyrolysis”, WP4 “Demonstration plant for high value oils” and WP5 “Demonstration plant for functional biopolymers” have just started. Different partners involved in each pilot plant are collaborating in the construction and set up of each plant, as well as in the search of the different components suppliers.
Regarding OTHER activities, different activities are undertaken within WP6 “Awareness, dissemination and exploitation”. The draft of the Plan for Use and Exploitation of the project results (Deliverable 6.1) has been prepared. For this aim, all partners contributed with the identification and characterisation of PILOT-ABP marketable results, their innovation content, associated risks, foreseen protection measures, etc. In addition, project results have been disseminated through conferences, publications, social networks and project web site (, which was launched at the beginning of the project.
Finally, management tasks in WP7 during the period have been in accordance with the Grant Agreement, in order to ensure the adequate progress of the project. Finally, considering that no significant deviations have been reported regarding the work plan, it could be said that by the end of period 1 the project is progressing satisfactorily.

Potential Impact:
Pilot-ABP project will be the previous step for the industrial implementation of new eco-innovative technologies associated to the animal by-products process. These will allow for an environmental improvement of the process, thanks to a more efficient energy use during the process and a better recovery of raw materials, with the related decrease in wastes production. Secondly, increased added value of obtained products will be achieved, leading to a better financial and commercial competitiveness of SMEs. Within PILOT ABP project the following exploitable results are expected:
1 New technology for valorisation of ABP wastes – Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) pyrolysis
2 Bio-oil obtained from HTL pyrolysis
3 Char obtained from HTL pyrolysis
4 New technology for valorisation of fatty acids – Short path distillation (SPD)
5 High value oils for food and pet cosmetics
6 New technology for valorisation of PAP – enzymatic hydrolysis
7 Protein-based biopolymers (gelatine, collagen, hydrolisate) for different intended uses
Furthermore, Pilot-ABP project represents a good opportunity for creating new start-ups based on the new technologies. A wide range of industrial applications for each pilot plant have been identified. Initially main sectors of application will be those covered by the participant SMEs, but all of them believe that there will be an increase in their products portfolio in the short and medium term, with new industrial applications thanks to the results of the project.
Main application of the pilot plant for HTL Pyrolysis would be mainly energetic, as the generated coal would be used as an energy source for the gasification plants, for example. Although a great potential can observed in the utilization of another kind of raw materials as can be: sewage sludge, nuts (for essential oils production), fish meals, algae, waste generated from parks and gardens pruning, etc.
In addition, the development of oleic acid based new products is of great interest for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sectors, considering that oleic acids is well-known by its outstanding health properties upon cardiovascular and liver health of human beings. Products made with the pilot plant’s oleic acids would be cheaper than other similar products on the market since these oils would be produced from ABPs, a cheaper source. Consequently, the SME involved would have an important competitive advantage. Furthermore, new products based on oleic acids represent an interesting opportunity for companies to open to new sectors of applications, such as pets’ cosmetics. What is more, high oleic acid content oils have a great interest for the food industry.
Regarding protein-based biopolymers from ABPs, several applications are expected mainly on physicochemical and enzymatic processes in biomass waste treatment, food industry, deodorizing and sanitation, bioremediation and services for organic fertilizer production. The involved companies expect to incorporate into their portfolio the new process for the recovery of the protein fraction coming from the rendering industry which, in Europe, deals with 17 million tonnes of animal by-products every year, and also other possible derivatives coming from the other plants involved in the project. Furthermore, the commercialisation of the resulting protein-based biopolymers would increase their product portfolio, entering in new industrial sectors with high growth prospects.

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