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European Industrial Doctorate on Solvent Emission Control: A new approach towards recycling diluted waste gases into bio-energy

Final Report Summary - TRAINONSEC (European Industrial Doctorate on Solvent Emission Control: A new approach towards recycling diluted waste gases into bio-energy)

The main objective of TrainonSEC is to develop an innovative anaerobic bioscrubber that produces biogas from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) air emissions, so to recycle diluted air waste into bio-energy. The foundations of the project are based on the experience of Universitat de València (UVEG, Spain) and PAS Solutions (PAS, The Netherlands) in the bioremoval of volatile organic compounds in air emissions. TrainonSEC aims to provide training to four early stage researchers (ESRs) to carry out their PhDs in the area of Clean Technology.

The Consortium of the project is composed by two full participants (1 academic and 1 private) and two associated private partners. The Universitat de València (UVEG) from Spain is the coordinator of the project. The SME PAS Solutions BV (PAS) from The Netherlands is the private full participant. Two SME Dutch companies: Altacel Transparant BV (Altacel) and Ekwadraat BV (Ekwadraat) are the two associated partners of the project. They will collaborate on the training of the researchers with secondments and network-training.

The key objective of the TrainonSEC team is to demonstrate the proof-of-concept of the innovative bioprocesses by:
- Determining the anaerobic biodegradability of solvents contained in commercial inks of the flexographic sector.
- Obtaining the ground rules and dynamics of the processes and mechanisms that occur in the anaerobic bioscrubber by treating air emissions from synthetic solvents.
- Exploring the possibilities for the in-situ micro-usage of the upgraded biogas at the industrial facility that emits the volatile organic compounds.
- Demonstrating the possibilities of implementing this treatment technology at industrial facilities as a technically excellent and cost-effective solution.

Scientific highlight and research achievements:

During the 48 months of the project, academia and industry groups have grown together as a joint team. The two partners plus the two associated partners exchanged successfully theoretical and practical competencies; the researchers built up new competencies at their respective host institutions following an intensive training programme and contributed to the transfer of knowledge between partners. Two early-stage researchers completed their three-year contracts, allowing them to deliver their PhD thesis and to obtain new scientific and technical knowledge in order to win new positions once their work at the project ended.

In the four years of the project, the consortium has performed and achieved the following research work and results of the four overlapping individual projects:

Project 1: The anaerobic biodegradability of solvents of industrial interest (ethoxy-propanol, methoxy-propanol, isopropanol and ethyl acetate) has been demonstrated. Work was carried out under batch test mode at the academia laboratory. Then, the scale-up of the results have been demonstrated by experimental testing at industrial prototype.
Project 2: A predictive model for the hydrodynamics prevailing in the high-rate anaerobic reactor has been used for the improvement of the gas-liquid-solid separator assembled in the industrial prototype of the process tested in Project 4.
Project 3: A fully integrated solution for micro-usage of biogas from recycling VOCs air emissions has been developed.
Project 4: 18-months testing of the industrial prototype has been carried out. Data regarding main design criteria and operational parameters have been established. Experimental results have been used to validate an innovative process simulation model was developed for design and predictive purposes under steady-state.

The TrainonSEC project is having an impact on the career of the participants, the two early-stage researchers who completed their three-year contracts, have benefit for the promotion and career advancement, both of them have finalized their PhD thesis, being the first one in the University of Valencia with a doctorate degree with Industrial mention. Both continue working in new positions outside the Consortium in R&D. During the project, the researchers published their results in scientific papers, presented it in several international conferences, and participated in several events of broad dissemination of science to public in general.

Final results and their potential impact:

-In-depth scientific knowledge of the innovative bioprocesses for removal of volatile organic compounds from industrial air emissions (pending patent of Universitat de València and Pure Solutions): key-design parameters and control mechanisms, knowledge transferred between academic laboratory and the industrial field.
- Commercial exploitation of the new biotechnology in the EU market, with lower cross media effects compared to conventional physical-chemical technologies and other biotreatments.
- Enrichment of personal and professional background of PhD researchers, giving them better work perspectives and opportunities for employment in the EU market, and improving the reputation of Universitat de València and Pure Air Solutions.
- Enlarge PAS Solutions’ innovative capacity and research methods, enabling them to make more accurate technical and commercial calculations for improving the product design, control, scalability and application of biotechnologies.
- Provide Altacel with a potential alternative for the control of VOCs air emissions.
- Create new opportunities for small-scale bioenergy projects with the collaboration of Ekwadraat.
- Identification of new challenging research projects, both in the competitive academia and industrial areas to reinforce the lasting collaboration between the partners in the Consortium.

Project public website: www.trainonsec.eu

e-mail contact: info@trainonsec.eu