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Implementation of a smart RETROfitting framework in the process industry towards its operation with variable, biobased and circular FEEDstock

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RETROFEED (Implementation of a smart RETROfitting framework in the process industry towards its operation with variable, biobased and circular FEEDstock)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-04-30

RETROFEED main objective is to enable the use of an increasingly variable, bio-based and circular feedstock in process industries through the retrofitting of core equipment and the implementation of an advanced monitoring and control system, and providing support to the plant operators by means of a DSS (Decision Support System) covering the production chain. This approach will be demonstrated in five REII (Resource and Energy Intensive Industries), namely ceramic, cement, aluminium, steel, and agrochemical, with the potential to reach in average an increase of 22% in resource efficiency and 19% in energy efficiency, with a consequent reduction in costs and GHG emissions of 9.3 M€ and 135 ktonCO2, respectively.
To achieve this, it will be necesary to 1) increase the knowledge on REII processes by deploying advanced modelling techniques and implementing a new monitoring infrastructure in different steps of the production chain, 2) implement a circular economy approach leveraging on retrofitting for the introduction of by-products and waste streams as alternative feedstock, 3) adapt REII equipment for the provision and use of bio-based feedstock whether as fuel or raw material, thus replacing traditional feedstock for improving the processes environmental performance, 4) improve the control system of retrofitted processes in order to deal with a higher variability in feedstock while improving their overall technical, economic and environmental performance, 5) develop a Decision Support System for assessing the best retrofitting options and operation plan of the improved processes in order to achieve a high impact over the whole production chain and 6) ensure results replication and the exploitation of the retrofitting potential in REIIs through a retrofitting methodology, contributions to standardisation bodies and capacity building programs.
Related with management issues,several activities have been performed: 1) Signature of Grant Agreement & Consortium Agreement 2) Distribution of the pre-financing 3) Definition of governance structure and procedures 4) Establishment of communication flows and methods 5) Coordination board creation, 6) Amendment implementation, etc.

Moreover, the basis for the modelling and simulation of the industrial processes, the baseline of the project by means of the characterization of the current situation of the RETROFEED demo-cases and the analysis of the market and the feedstock variability has been set. At the same time, a preliminary methodology to guide the retrofitting actions has been presented.

During the first reporting period, for DSS development, a questionnaire was colleted in order to assess the existing tool used by each demonstrator for the plant management and the digitalisation status, then partners discussed which are the “decision support needs” for each demonstrator and the simulation or optimization models that could help them in the plant management process. Due to this, several models have been added beside the Machine Learning models that were already forecasted for the completeness of the decision support process. These models have been partially developed (depending on the amount and clarity of data shared by each demonstrator) and there have been several meetings for discussing the model assumptions and first results. Moreover, the overall plant management process with each demonstrator has been discussed, starting from the WP2 deliverables, in order to design the user interfaces and functionalities for the DSS, i.e. what the user can visualize and run in the RETROFEED tool.

For the demosites, diferent activites have been performed until now:
1)TCID: Design and validation of the novel heat recuperator to provide combustion air at 850 ºC. Retrofitting of an existing frit drier using hot air coming from combustion studying operational parameters. Development of a program to match frit recipe with a prediction of melting conditions
2)SECIL: Development of the CFD simulations of the rotary kiln is on-going. Granulometry tests of the RDF in CIRCE facilities for a further improvement of the alternative feedstock combustion model. Validation of the combustion model by IEN in a 1 MW downscaled burner of the current full-scale burner installed in SECIL facilities.
3)ASAS: Development of the CFD simulations of the melting furnace and three different head burners by IEN. Design and construction of the oxygen lance and O2 level meaasuremt system and concept design of the delacquering system by STEK. Test for determining the most suitable temperature for the raw material pre-treatment.
4)FENO and SILCOTUB: for FENO, desing of the innovative burner by HTT and CFD simulation by CSM to verify the effectiveness of the geometry both with natural gas (reference condition) and with plastic grains. For SILCOTUB, characterization of the materials to be blown in the EAF by means of the new injector and preliminary evaluation about the possibility to blow materials with large grain size range. For both demosites, DT for EAF has been developed and the link between DT and DSS has been tested.
6)FERTIBERIA: Design and construction of a pilot plant to test a novel H2SO4 pipe-reactor. In addition, laboratory tests were performed to support the decision about materials and final design for the construction. Currently, development of the geometry grid of the pipe-reactor based on the design of the industrial reactor.

Aditionally, within business plan and exploitation, the provision of an extensive and robust analysis of the current market of the RETROFEED industries has been done, highlighting the key points that RETROFEED market analysis revealed. Moreover, some preliminary work has been done for identifying the project exploitable results.

Finally, during the first period, RETROFEED has produced a successful project website, numerous print material as well as digital material such as newsletters and press releases. A successful social media campaign, several online event organisations and the participation in national and international conferences and sysmposiums have helped establish RETROFEED as a recognisable project among the relevant stakeholders.
The main expected results can be summarised below and all are ongoing:
1) DSS Tool
2) In-line H2SO4 reactor for NPK process
3) Aluminium furnace redesing towards scrap use
4) Flame monitoring & diagnosis
5) Multi-spectral FTIR sensors for prodcut quality
6) Multi fuel burner for a rotatory kiln
7) Advanced monitoring and control for frits smelter

These foreseen impacts are all ongoing
1) Increasing the resource and energy efficiency of the targeted processes by 20%
2) Decrease GHG emissions through retrofitting by at least 30%
3) Decreased utilisation of fossil resources in the process industry of at least 20%
4) Reduced OPEX by 30% and increased productivity by 20%
5) Increase in the overall plant performance.
6) Increased monitoring plant conditions
7) Improved control capabilities.
8) A more sustainable use of feedstock.
9) Improved health and safety conditions.
10) Indirect impacts on REII: Replication within the project partners and at EU level in different sectors.
11) Indirect impacts on EU external dependence.
12) Indirect impact on EU employability.
13) Indirect impact on industrial trends from an environmental and technical point of view.