Important note: sign-up for CHEMISTRY (C) and ENTREPRENEURSHIP & RETAIL MANAGEMENT (ORM) students use Bisoncode: L.26569
Important note: sign-up for BIOLOGY & LABORATORY RESEARCH (BML) and CHEMICAL ENGINEERING (CT) students use Bisoncode: L.26571

* The client of this project will attend the Preview on Thursday 28th of November from 13:30 to 16:00 at Saxion Enschede (Ari├źnsplein 1).

Our national economy is on-hold due to the ammonium and nitrogenoxydes emissions of our agriculture, our traffic, or in general many economics activities. Although Dutch agriculture is world-famous concerning its high efficiency (we are as very small country the 2nd large producer of food worldwide) we are becoming victim of our own success!

Time for action and more steps towards circular economy!

Intensive livestock farming has led to over-fertilization of agricultural land resulting in environmental problems due to phosphate(P) and nitrogen (N) leaching to ground and surface waters. Dutch government prevents further accumulation of P in the soils setting limits to the P-content of fertilizers. As a consequence a large fraction of the P-rich manure cannot be used to fertilize the Dutch soils and is exported abroad, while artificial fertilizers are being imported, leading to the paradoxical situation in which farmers pay to get rid of their manure and meanwhile purchase mineral N-fertilizers to fertilize the soil.

Digestion of the manure produces biogas, but getting rid of the remaining digestate reduces the profit enormously and hinders the goal to make our agriculture circularly. The liquid fraction of the digestate, however, contains N and Kalium (K) that would be very valuable for farmers if concentrated and separated, so it can be applied as natural fertilizer to prevent the purchase of artificial fertilizers.

In cooperation with our project partners a concept has been developed in which several membrane process play an important role. The total concept is currently as demo plant under operation and shows very promising results for the separation and concentration of N and K. However, many questions are still open which require additional investigations. We will focus on the biological and chemical fouling mechanisms of the membranes; the sedimentation of different, sometimes unidentified, chemical species; and optimization of the process. Furthermore, we want identify the economical potential for Twente of this new concept which not only valorize he biogas but also the resulting disgetstate as high quality natural fertilizer.

In short, we are looking for ambitious developers and entrepreneurs for a circular agriculture in Twente!

Required study programs:

Biology and Laboratory Research (BML): The nutrients in the digestate will cause (unwanted) biofouling in the membrane systems which has to be avoided by developing the proper cleaning methods. Identify these nutrients in the membranes. Investigate how the optimization steps (pH, flowrates i.e.) affect biological fouling and investigate how to reduce or clean biological fouling.

The fertilization of the soil in general and the different cuttings (during the season the soil will be fertilized several times) have different fertilization requirements. What are the needs and does the concentrate provide in these. N and K can be found in different forms in the concentrate. Identify which forms are applicable for fertilization of the soil and the different cuttings, so in which forms N and K can be found in the concentrate.

Chemistry (C): Focus on the development of analytical methods to identify the feed, concentrate and permeate streams as well as the precipitate associated with high concentrations of the digestate. These will be compared to modelled solutions using PhreeqC.

Chemical Engineering (CT): Understanding and optimizing the processing of the different membrane processes, because the hydrodynamics along the membranes are important process parameter determining the separation quality. Based on lab test and results from the digester at Groot Zevert (in Beltrum) the design of the separation processes will be investigated and modeled (pressure-drop, mass-transfer, multi-component diffusion).

Entrepreneurship & Retail Management (ORM): Identifying potential market in Twente (surpluss manure and K and P needs). Estimate Opex and Capex and determine minimal amounts of manure that needs to be digested for a profitable process (both the value of the biogas, as the profit from using high quality natural fertilizer in stead of purchasing artificial fertilizer, including elimination of many transports from and to farms.

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Questions about this project?

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this project. You can call us at 088 - 019 53 11 or use the form below. We wil get back to you within two business days.