An Italian company specialized in fermentation systems, including Solid State Fermentation (SSF) and production process for biotechnological products, is preparing a SME-Instrument phase I proposal, related to the development of a new biogas plant technology. The project aim is to produce high value organic fertilizers, while recovering the waste heat energy. An experienced biogas plant builder from Germany, Austria or Switzerland is sought for a Research&Development cooperation agreement.
The Italian biotech company specialized in fermentation systems, including Solid State Fermentation (SSF), and production process for biotechnological products, has a deep experience in the fields of research, engineering and industrial asset evaluation, due to the involvement in complex systems engineering, project management and supply.
The company is developing a new biogas plant technology, with the aim to use the nutrients present in the two digestion fractions, solid and liquid, for high value organic fertilizers production, and at the same time increasing the biogas conversion efficiency.
The digestion products of biogas plants, where the feed is usually corn silage, sorghum, triticale and other vegetable, are composed by a solid fraction, containing lignin and cellulose, and a liquid one, rich in ammonium and macro-elements (N-P-K: Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium). The utilization of the digestion products generates many problems, as the need of large storage when it cannot be distributed on soil and, more important, the pollution due to the emission of ammonia into the atmosphere with persistent smells, especially during the summer season, the increase of nitrates in the soil (resulting in the Nitrates Directive infringement), the proliferation of harmful insects to crops, etc.
With the new proposed technology, both digestion products, the solid and the liquid one, are subjected to a specific treatment.
The 'Liquid' chain allows the replacement or the supplement of the microflora present in the digestion fraction (responsible for the anaerobic fermentation) with aerobic heterotrophic microorganisms able to recover the macro elements and organic matter, and above all, to assimilate the ammonia and convert it into protein nitrogen. The final goal is to obtain an organic-mineral fertilizer, containing useful microflora for agriculture (for example, growth promoter microorganisms for plants), of high quality, lowering the emission of methane and ammonia and avoiding the common practices, expensive and questionable from an agronomic point of view.
Regarding the 'Solid' chain, the composting of the solid fraction allows the degradation of lignin, a substance that consume the nitrogen in the soil (the microorganisms need nitrogen to degrade lignin, so remove nutrients to plants), getting a final product rich in substances useful for agronomic use, such as humic acids and other organic acids.
The new process is potentially applicable to all installations producing biogas with silage or other agricultural feed.
The Italian company is planning to sell or, if requested, give on loan the facilities and know-how for such production to every interested operator; the company is also able to ensure the sale of the obtained fertilizer through its contacts network, if the owner of the new plant has not access to distribution channels.
The company is interested in submitting a proposal related to the development of the new biogas plant technology under the Call EIC-SMEInst-2018-2020: SME instrument – phase 1.
To complete the skills required by the project development, an experienced biogas plant builder from Germany, Austria or Switzerland is sought. Under a Research & Development cooperation agreement, its role will include the cooperation in the new technology engineering activities, with specific reference to the retrofit aspects of the existing plants in its own country, and the plant construction.
The deadline for expressions of interest is the 15th of January 2019, as the Italian company is planning to submit its project proposal at the cut-off date of the 13th of February 2019.
The duration of the phase I project will be six months, but a more extended collaboration with the biogas plant builder is very wished.
- Specific area of activity of the partner: The ideal partner is a company with a deep experience in biogas plants building, located in Germany, Austria or Switzerland and interested in the project development involvement within a Research&Development cooperation agreement.
Its role will include:
- the cooperation in the new technology engineering activities, by realizing one demonstration plant
- new plants construction and existing plants retrofitting in its own country.
The new technology allows the production of high value organic microbial fertilizers, using the nutrients present in the two digested fractions, solid and liquid (waste). The heat energy required for the process is recovered by the waste heat, with relevant energy efficiency advantage. There are many technologies in the market, some of them well tested, reliable, but no one, even the most competitive in terms of cost and reliability, produces high-value commodities. The ammonia stripping plants, for example, needs high operating costs, sulfuric acid (dangerous substance, that farmers don’t want to manage) and produce low quantities of ammonium sulfate, (in a plant of 1 MW about 300 kg/day), that is a low price commodity (about 180 / ton of dry). The biological process of nitrification and denitrification (one of the most reliable and common technology to remove ammonium from wastewater) allows to discharge to a watercourse, but it requires a lot of electric energy for aeration and it doesn’t produce high value fertilizers, but just biological sludge.
The new process doesn’t require chemicals (operation advantage) and produces an organic fertilizer with high commercial and agronomic value, with a price per kg that is 10 times the ammonium sulfate one.
Furthermore, the new technology recovers and uses waste energy, the residual heat of endothermic engines which it’s usually dispersed to the atmosphere, with the advantage that the residual liquid fraction can be discharged to receiving watercourse or reused for irrigation, unlike the case of only stripping technologies.
Prototype available for demonstration - The company is currently using its patented “vacuum concentrator” technology since February 2017 to concentrate microbial products, which physical characteristics are similar to the liquid digestion fraction after fermentation process.
Secret Know-how - The company has filed a patent application for different sections of the innovative process; a non-disclosure agreements (NDA) is requested to all companies and professionals who cooperate in the project development.
Acronym: Less pollution and more revenues from Biogas Plants (LESSMORE)
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