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H2020

DEPURGAN Report Summary

Project ID: 673771

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DEPURGAN (Swine-farm revolution)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2016-05-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

As already identified as a serious environmental problem in several regions of Europe, China, Russia and US, pig manure management has become a social and environmental problem nowadays that critically demands a definitive solution in the pig farming sector. It could be said that there are two main factors which have led to this situation during the last decades: i) the number of confined animals has increased where the largest farms are located, resulting in more manure produced than can be assimilated by the available farmland where the pigs are produced, and ii) stricter European/National directives have limited ground disposal of manure as fertilizer, which used to be the traditional solution in the past, due to nitrification of the land.
As a consequence, pig installations owners must pay to waste treatment companies for their pig slurry management (3-3.5 €/m3, which transportation costs accounts up to 60% of total) or alternatively, largest installations invest in their own treatment equipment to comply with these regulations.
During recent decades, the negative environmental impacts of livestock production and manure handling have been controlled by stricter regulations for manure storage and spreading. However, the intensification of livestock production has led to larger herds on fewer farms and industrial scale operations that produce large quantities of manure at centralised locations. As intensive livestock farming is being placed under increasing pressure to minimise the environmental impact of its operations several number of processes have been assessed as Best Available Technologies (BAT) for manure treatment while at the same time improving utilisation of the nutrient resources. However, most of the state-of-the-art solutions (SoA) are neither technologically, nor economically viable nowadays, and the most important fact, they are usually subjected to national subsidies to be profitable. EUROGAN is based in Spain (one of the largest pig producer and exporter countries worldwide) and have been active in the livestock sector since 1964. Our company, moved by real customer demand and aiming to exploit pig slurry business potential, has recently patented an innovative manure treatment process that accomplishes: 1. The concentration of contaminants in the manure (nitrogen, phosphorous, metals, bacteria, virus…) is minimized. 2. Treating the pig slurry at its origin 3. Its technical and economic viable for the farmer, being independent from national subsidies. 4. valorizes the manure (energy recovery and fertilizer).
The DEPURGAN project aims to bring to the market an efficient pig manure treatment process, with an initial investment 4 times lower compared to other solutions and operation costs being also very competitive. It base its innovative character in the use of an optimized electrocoagulation reactor, that allows nitrogen abatement, while producing as residues a solid fraction that poses great calorific potential as biomass, and a NPK liquid effluent ready to be used as fertilizer.
DEPURGAN will have a treatment capacity of 20 m3/h and includes a combination of: i) Solid/liquid separation applied with centrifuge, ii) High efficiency Electrocoagulation iii) final synthesis of fertilizer and biomass pelletizing. The system will be introduced in the pig farming sector as an all-in-one-solution, which will treat the manure at its origin, abate the contaminants in the liquid fraction providing an odorless and colorless liquid phase, and its economic viability will be independent from national subsidies.
The electrocoagulation is similar to a physicochemical treatment, but using electrical energy flowing through the medium instead of other mechanical or chemical agents, thus it has been defined as an electrochemical process. The pH increase at the cathode, promoting the formation of insoluble hydroxides (Al(OH)3, Fe(OH)3) that precipitate, trapping solid particles and organic material that form floccules, which are continuously extracted from the system. In parallel, different physic-chemical processes take place within the reactor that remove contaminants: ionisation, precipitation, emulsion breaking, electrolysis, free radical formation, compounds breaking and emulsion separation. The electrical discharge, together with strong oxidative radicals, as well as high pH, produce a biocide effect that also destroys the pathogens in the electrolytic cell.
The outputs of the system could be both commercialized: The liquid fraction can be used for fertirrigation. The solid fraction separated, which is about 5-10% of total pig slurry treated, can be converted to dried pelletized biomass to be used in the installation for central heating system, or as a saleable product.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the first 10 months of project, these are the tasks carried out:
- The flow diagram of the process has been created (manure treatment, fertilizer plant, pellets plant)
- The Piping and Instrumentation (P&ID) has been designed for the scale-up of the treatment process
- Several modifications from the prototype have been integrated in the industrial plant
- Additional instrumentation has been selected to be integrated in the plant
- The equipment/instrumentation have been selected and most of the acquired
- Plant 3D layout has been created in order to be able to complete the construction project of the industrial shed used to place the new plant. Civil works have been partially contracted and first stage initiated
- The design of the Electrocoagulator is on-going. Optimization of the mechanical design has been applied and new materials for the electrodes are being analysed in order to enhance the nitrogen abatement performance
- The electrical architecture and the control system have just started based on EUROGAN's requirements
- Manure characterisation has been done for several months and differences among periods analysed
- First pellets have been obtained, analysed and burned. Several mix of materials for pellets have been performed.
- Flocculants, anti-foam and coagulants options have been analysed and dosages optimized in the laboratory
- The design of the power supply has been finalized, and manufacturing is on-going. Final design and power output will be finished after the final design of the Electrocoagulator.
- Integration place chosen and legal permits obtained
- Fertilizer legal basis reviewed and formulation analysed to enter the market
- Analysis of costs and clients, creation of the brand and the logo for DEPURGAN.
- Creation of exploitation company DEPURGAN S.L, to be used in the future after the project
- Several visits to clients and fairs to promote the invention and obtain feedback
- Attending to the European Conference of Biomass in Amsterdam. Oral speakers with DEPURGAN project
- Website
- First step in redefinition of Business Plan together with the Coach from the European Commission.
- A new patent has been filled during April
- Study of additional options to obtain external investment for the project

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The innovative approach of DEPURGAN includes electrocoagulation as a main technology in continuous mode to treat manure at origin, the development and integration of a high efficiency power supply which reduces electricity consumption by up to 20%, and the optimized design of the electrodes configuration.
The operational costs now, based on electrical equipment (pumps, EC, mixer) and consumables consumption (flocculants and electrodes), is expected to be 1.37€/m3 manure treated.
The economic study for the DEPURGAN system (120,000 m3/year) estimates a pay-back period for the client of 3.31 years, with estimated yearly savings of up to 225,600€/year, or net benefits as system exploiter with external manure up to 63,600€/year. Additional revenues from sales of biomass pellets up to 378.000 €/year.

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