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News Industrial and Urban Symbiosis in the Food Industry

Industrial and Urban Symbiosis in the Food Industry

The Industrial and Urban Symbiosis can ensure a more efficient use of resources in many sectors of our economy. Food production is among them and the SYMSITES project studied solutions to ensure environmental sustainability in Olive Industry Wastewater (OIWW) and Liquid Fraction of Food Waste and Municipal Wastewater (MWW).

The study, entitled “An Industrial-Urban Symbiosis (I-US) concept for the production of gaseous biofuels”, was conducted by the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and presented during RETASTE: Rethink Food Resources, Losses, and Waste Third International Conference.

The Conference

The RETASTE 2023 Conference fostered research supporting the transition to resilient and environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable food systems, both on land and at sea. The event was held in September 2023 in Athens, Greece.

Scientists, entrepreneurs, and representatives of organisations engaged in food production, distribution and consumption, as well as those that deal with the waste produced in each step of the farm-to-fork ladder, presented research and innovative results that aim to address these challenges. 

The study

Background: The production of biofuels has increased to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change. However, current production practices are heavily criticized for their lack of environmental sustainability. In the coming years, biofuel production practices should improve to meet strict environmental sustainability policies. The Industrial and Urban Symbiosis concept focuses on long-term collaboration between local municipal and industrial actors that enables more efficient use of materials, energy, and other resources. Such collaboration and networks can increase the value of businesses, stimulate innovation, improve environmental and sustainability performance, and foster local and industrial development.

Aim of the study: The research aims to characterize waste from industry and municipality aiming at Industrial-Urban Symbiosis (I-US), to identify possible material and energy exchanges between municipalities and industries and improve the efficiency and environmental performance of biofuel production within the Horizon Europe project SYMSITES.

Approach: This study concerns the production of methane from three different waste streams: Olive Industry Wastewater (OIWW), Liquid Fraction of Food Waste and Municipal Wastewater (MWW). These streams are collected from the area of West Achaia in Greece. Methane production from the three above waste streams through anaerobic fermentation under mesophilic conditions was carried out using a 40L CSTR, operated at different 40d, 30d and 20d with an organic loading of 0.5 gCOD/(Lreactor*d) and feedstock rates (91.7% MWW, 3.3% LFFW, 5% OIWW). Also, TSS, VSS, tCOD, sCOD, pH, VFAs and methane were measured. The methanogenic reactor was operated for 50 days. The mean biogas production rate was 11.6 L/d with a mean methane content of 78%.

Research Team

Konstantina PAPADOPOULOU, Senior Researcher and Teaching Associate, NTUA Greece

Charalampos PAVLOPOULOS, PhD candidate, NTUA Greece

Achilleas ZARKALIOU, PhD candidate, NTUA Greece

Gerasimos LYBERATOS, Chemical engineer, PhD, Professor, NTUA, Greece