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Recovery of nutrients from agricultural residues and improved dewatering through ultrasound technology

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - UltraBio (Recovery of nutrients from agricultural residues and improved dewatering through ultrasound technology)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2017-07-31

Livestock holders and biogas plant operators produce billions of tons of manure and digestate that need to be disposed of. However, the traditional disposal on agricultural fields is restricted by the EU’s Nitrates Directive and an external disposal is often very expensive.
Weber Entec has developed a new procedure for the treatment of manure, digestate and other organic suspensions which not only enables their disposal but also their valorisation. The substances will be separated into their solid and liquid compounds while the majority of the nutrients will be bound to the solid product through ultrasound treatment. The liquid product can then be disposed without any restrictions, while the nutrient-enriched solid product can be pelletised and sold as a valuable organic fertiliser.
A series of tests on the lab-scale has demonstrated the great potentials of the new technology. However, an industrial-scale prototype did not fully reach the same efficiency. Further research is necessary to enable a successful market introduction. Therefore, the aim of the project is the identification and implementation of the necessary technological developments and the development of a business plan.
The market potential was calculated (1.48 million customers in the EU only), several technological development needs were identified and assessed feasible and a commercialisation concept was developed and assessed feasible as well. Moreover, the legal framework was investigated, required employees and investments were calculated and risks were assessed.
The ultrasound treatment of manure, digestate and other organic suspensions is the only method for the significant reduction of nitrogen compounds in these substances that can be applied on the farm level. It therefore allows the cheap and easy disposal of nearly unlimited amounts of these suspensions on agricultural fields in compliance with the EU’s Nitrates Directive and, besides that, the production of a valuable organic fertiliser.
The prototype of the UltraBio ultrasound system