CORDIS - EU research results

Renewable systems engineering for waste valorisation ΙΙ

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RENESENG II (Renewable systems engineering for waste valorisation ΙΙ)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2022-12-31

The main project goal is to advance the emerging area of Biorefineries-systems engineering (BSE) and particularly investigate the role that BSE can play on waste valorisation and, thus, circular economy.

The main project objectives are:
- Expanding the knowledge for value chains across feed-stocks, products and industries.

- Investigating the area of knowledge management for the effective communication across the diverse academic research scales and industrial applications.

- Applying the existing RENESENG tools, models, methods, know how as well as the newly developed in this project
to emerging topics of bio-economy and links to circular economy, with special focus on various forms of “waste”
biomass (e.g. MSW, glycerol, lignin).

The importance for the society of these objectives is very significant. Biorefineries are the emergent new chemical industries that integrate biomass conversion processes to produce fuels, energy, and added-value chemicals. The objective of a biorefinery is to optimize the use of resources and minimize wastes, thereby maximizing benefits and profitability. Industrial biorefineries have been identified as the most promising route to the creation of a new European biobased industry.
Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end:

1. All the work mentioned in Progress beyond the state of the art, in the following section
2. A web-based tool for generation and multi-objective optimization of superstructures linking products, production paths, feedstocks and spatial resources and infrastructures.
3. Biorefinery knowledge models has been developed linking BSE tools with waste biomass applications and circular economy.
4. A wide range of waste streams has been tested through thermal treatment technologies.
5. Supply chain scenarios have been developed including evaluation of cultivating landscapes as biomass providers, residues derived from forestry as well as agro-waste biomass from paper industries.
6. Kinetics reactions of multi-catalytic enzymes for biomass degradation (e.g. targeting at cellulose) into sugars for the subsequent production of biofuels and biochemicals, had been developed towards the formation of case studies scenarios.
7. Baseline scenarios had been formed through dynamic models for the assessment of downstream processes in relation with the valorization of biomass derived syngas from thermal processes (gasification and pyrolysis).
8. Business development opportunities for valorization of lignocellulosic agricultural and forestry waste through waste-to-energy and waste-to-chemicals applications had been formed.
9. A business plan has been developed for the valorization of food processing industrial waste through the application of HTL technology, integrated also with WWTPs and hydrogenation facilities required for biofuel production.
10. Three Workshops and two training schools were organized. One workshop was a special session of A ESCAPE32 Conference, disseminating that way the results of RENESENG II project to the scientific community.
11. A Systems library for MSW, food waste and WWT for thermo- and biochemical treatment and a Systems library for biorefineries have been developed.
12. Two peer-reviewed publications and two peer-reviewed Conference papers, were delivered in total
13. All exploitation and dissemination activities have been recorded to the project’s web site.

Overall, RENESENG II project, has developed strong collaboration bonds with industrial partners for the benefit of both. In particular, BSE facilities had discovered the potential of new business opportunities that emerge from the replication of low TRL processes that took place in lab-scale environment. The project gave the opportunity for these – research based – knowledge assets to be tested in real time industrial applications where, the most promising ones can upgrade industrial partners’ competitiveness towards the generation of new products and/or the production line optimization of existing ones by valorizing bio-based input streams. On the other hand, seconded staff gain an insight view on how BSE facilities are operating in terms of integrated value chain of bio-based end products. Furthermore, RENESENG II project has also established the sustainability framework of developing a hybrid spin-off (see D8.7: Business Plan for Spin-Off Development), where the combined know-how from academic institution and industrial partners can be materialized towards the expansion of BSE concept. In addition, as marketability on innovative bio-based products is expected to be relatively limited – at least at early stage – hybrid spin-off operators may also act as service providers towards the certification and labeling of these new products and/or as consultants in issues related with the implementation of equipment needed for materializing BSE concept at private and/or public entities involved in bioeconomy sector.
Τhe following results can be considered beyond the state-of-the-art and in line with the initial Project targeted goals and impact:

1. The testing of ne multicatalytic enzymes.
2. The performance of a special class of bacteria for the design of syngas fermentation
3. The new catalysts and process models for the analysis of direct hydrogenation of lignin.
4. Improving design of biorefinery knowledge model (BiOnto ontology).
5. Development of an ontology for waste streams property characterization.
6. Methods for scaling up biorefineries had been developed, including scaling up approaches for estimating capital and production cost.
7. Sustainability assessment metrics for biorefineries had been developed, including the implementation of machine learning techniques for models’ development.
8. Innovative approaches for syngas valorization have been investigated through industrial synthesis gas fermentation into fuels and chemicals.
9. Production of bio-adhesives through the integration of microalgae cultivation with WWTPs’ processes has been performed.
10. The efficiency of process models for chemo-catalytic transformation of glycerol to various chemicals (lactic acid, 1,2- and 1,3-propanediol, allyl alcohol, epichlorohydrin, acrylic acid, glycerol carbonate), had been tested.
11. Baseline scenarios had been developed for lignin extraction/utilization processes, direct hydrogenation of lignin, unsaturated fatty acids cleavage processing and citrus peel transformation into pectin.

RENESENG II main output was the formation of a knowledge baseline for the documentation and expansion of bio-systems engineering concept which can be practically implemented through the valorization of approximately all types of biowaste streams (municipal, industrial and agricultural). From this perspective, RENESENG II has strengthen the potential of these industries in terms of expanding the portfolio of products which are contributing at the transition from linear to circular economy models of business development. This transition brings forward major socio-economic benefits as new and innovative products can be competitive against conventional ones and furthermore, more sustainable in terms of their environmental performance. In this framework, the use of ‘green’ and/or ‘greener’ products, besides the creation of business opportunities, it is cultivating the environmental consciousness of the public by switching their preferences towards the selection of products which are not harming the environment.