How their expertise will be beneficial to the project!
The product of the Carboxyl Acid Platform (CAP, a critical process in converting organic residues from the fruit and vegetable sector into novel bio-based fertilizer products of high quality) is a complex solution containing small carboxyl acids and nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium-based compounds). The presence of these small carboxyl acids in the solution would considerably hamper the production of fertilizers. Therefore, a high-quality and carboxyl-free nutrient solution is highly desired.
The expertise of the Particle and Interfacial Technology (PaInT) research group at Ghent University is related to the selective separation of these nutrients from the carboxylic-rich solution. This separation is performed using a membrane-based process called electrodialysis. The advantage of this process, as compared to others, is the capacity to separate different compounds as a function of their unique physicochemical properties (charge, size, hydrophobicity, etc.) by the use of tailored ion-exchange membranes and an external potential (voltage). Remarkably, electrodialysis is regarded as a sustainable “green chemistry” process of low impact on the environment compared to other industrial processes. Thus, the target of the PaInT research group is to design an efficient and environmentally friendly electrodialysis-based process to produce high-quality and concentrated nutrients-containing solutions for synthesizing tailored fertilizers for agricultural purposes. Currently, researchers from the PaInT group are performing extensive lab-scale experiments to attain the aforementioned goal at the CAPTURE center in Gent, where different conditions are being tested for lower energy demands and provide pure nutrients solutions.
The RUSTICA project aims to foster the technical validation, demonstration and implementation of bio-based fertiliser and soil improvement production techniques focusing on waste from the fruit and vegetable agro-food system to close nutrient cycles on a regional level. An estimated 70 million tonnes of dry matter of field crop residues could be sustainably harvested for valorization. However, 1.5 million tonnes is lost. The project wants to bridge this gap between the nutrient losses in the form of agricultural residues and the nutrient imports in Europe by integrating and demonstrating 6 complementary technologies with high nutrient recovery potential to treat residues from the fruit and vegetable sector. For future information, please visit https://rusticaproject.eu/ very soon.
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