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Renewable systems engineering for waste valorisation ΙΙ

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RENESENG II (Renewable systems engineering for waste valorisation ΙΙ)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2019-12-31

The 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. To achieve this, RENESENG-II will capitalize on recent advances and contribute to the development of diverse disciplines, such as process systems engineering, industrial biotechnology, catalytic engineering, environmental systems analysis, and knowledge management. The application domain will cover thermochemical, chemical, and biochemical valorisation of diverse waste biomass sources, including municipal, agricultural and industrial waste.

The main project objectives are:
- Expanding the knowledge for value chains across feed-stocks, products and industries, e.g. by looking into the
potential of MSW (including food waste) energy chemicals nexus.

- Investigating the area of knowledge management (i.e. data structures, workflows, protocols) for the effective
communication across the diverse academic research scales and industrial applications (i.e. lab to unit operations, to
process and plant design, to business development, sustainability assessment).

- 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). Enhancing the network with new academic and non academic partners and
significantly contributing via meaningful secondments to the career development of ESR and ER.

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. Circular economy implies that waste becomes an attractive, cheap, local resource and inter-industry sharing of resources becomes an integrated part of modern, green business models. In this context, biorefineries can provide an innovative, beyond the waste-to-energy, effective valorisation, exploiting systemic synergies for efficient production of added-value products and waste reduction.
In this section we summarize the progress made during the 1st period of the project:

1. The testing of ne multicatalytic enzymes and the performance of a special class of bacteria for the design of syngas fermentation

2. The new catalysts and process models for the analysis of direct hydrogenation of lignin.

3. A Systems library for MSW, food waste and WWT for thermo- and biochemical treatment, including models and case studies has been developed, expanding of the knowledge and expertise for food waste value chains with new process models and data for food waste applications.

4. Α Web-based tool for generation and multi-objective optimisation of superstructures linking products, production paths, feedstocks and spatial resources have been developed.

5. Α Systems library for (i) glycerol biorefinery, (ii) food industry waste biorefinery, (iii) pulp and paper biorefinery and (iv) oleochemical biorefinery including transformation paths, models and case studies have been developed.

6. In the context of capturing uncertainty in bio renewable value chain models a framework, has been developed, for the inclusion of uncertainty in bio renewable value chain models.

7. A Workshop (Workoshop-1) was organised. The workshop aimed at training engineers within biorefinery field and help implement and advance the research done by RENESENG II researchers/secondees.

8. A peer-reviewed Journal Publication and a Conference Presenteation, with the title “Waste Streams Property Characterisation in Biorefinery Systems Engineering Using an Ontology Approach” were delivered.

To achieve these results the academic partners, exploited their industrial secondments, to acquire a range of real-life data on feedstock and refinery process properties, to improve the design of biorefinery knowledge models and to further verify the designed ontologies performances for different real-life scenarios: feedstock valorisation, process selection for targeted feedstock and/or products and also for model and data integration. The final result will provide tools with a marketable value to tackle various aspects of biorefining, from process design and synthesis (research and development) up to process operation and logistic (operation) resulting in economic but also environmental gains. All biorefining related enterprises will benefit from these improvements. Research in the area of biorefining has been demonstrated to benefit from such knowledge models helping in feedstock valorisation and process design and synthesis. Hence the main stakeholders, who could exploit the project's final results, are companies and research institutions working in the domain of biorefining.
Currently, the main challenge for BSE is to capitalize on and further advance PSE methods and tools
transforming fragmented knowledge toward holistic approaches considering the use of multiple feed-stocks,
existing and new chemistries, assessment from techno-economic and sustainability perspective of the new
production paths, scale-up to sustainable capacities, produce industrial patents for flows-heets and
equipment, setting technology benchmarks, build distribution networks with favorable energy footprints and
integrate with regional markets and supplies. The consortium of RENESENG-II builds on the success story, methods and tools of
RENESENG I, to which it has direct access advancing the BSE field by:

1. Models of fundamental building blocks alongside modeling of thermodynamic properties of
substrates, feedstocks and products.
2. Process integration and process synthesis tools to calculate benchmarks and targets for raw material and environmental efficiencies enabling
screening and analysis.
3. Supply chain optimization technology for non-conventional business models.

A domain of particular interest for the project for research and innovation beyond the state of the art with respect to
data, methods, tools and applications of BSE is the one of waste biomass valorisation because of:

1. Ever growing interest in circular economy as a key concept for reaching economic,
environmental and societal goals at national, EU and global scales

2. Limited number of technologies dominating this field.

3. Waste biomass complexity, characterized by strong sectorial, geographical and temporal

4. Heterogeneous degree of maturity of the waste biomass biorefinery concepts in general.

At the end of the 1st Project period, the following results can be considered beyond the state-of-the-art and in line with the initial Project targeted goals and impact:

a. The testing of ne multicatalytic enzymes.
b. The performance of a special class of bacteria for the design of syngas fermentation
c. The new catalysts and process models for the analysis of direct hydrogenation of lignin.
d. Improving design of biorefinery knowledge model (BiOnto ontology).
e. Development of an ontology for waste streams property characterization.