Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Design of Sustainable and Energy Self-Sufficient Processes Based on Renewable Resources

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.02.03  Engineering sciences and technologies  Chemical engineering  Process system engineering 

Code Science Field
T350  Technological sciences  Chemical technology and engineering 

Code Science Field
2.04  Engineering and Technology  Chemical engineering  
renewable energy, biogas, process, design, optimization, efficiency, sustainable development, energy self-sufficiency
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (23)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  31320  PhD Nataša Belšak Šel  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2017 - 2019  82 
2.  11243  PhD Štefan Čelan  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2019  302 
3.  30944  PhD Lidija Čuček  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2019  448 
4.  14429  PhD Roman Glaser  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016  103 
5.  06008  PhD Andreja Goršek  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2019  541 
6.  14980  PhD Dušan Klinar  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2017 - 2019  182 
7.  31253  Katja Kocuvan  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2018 - 2019 
8.  23475  PhD Damjan Krajnc  Chemical engineering  Technical associate  2016 - 2019  166 
9.  06005  PhD Zdravko Kravanja  Chemical engineering  Head  2016 - 2019  905 
10.  36603  PhD Andreja Nemet  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2019  154 
11.  11369  PhD Zorka Novak Pintarič  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2019  477 
12.  12681  PhD Bojan Pahor  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2016 - 2019  167 
13.  19271  PhD Darja Pečar  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2019  320 
14.  20043  PhD Aleksandra Pivec  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2019  107 
15.  08041  PhD Igor Plazl  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2019  489 
16.  05248  PhD Franc Pohleven  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Retired researcher  2016 - 2019  1,197 
17.  08604  PhD Cvetka Ribarič Lasnik  Plant production  Researcher  2016 - 2019  278 
18.  20089  PhD Klavdija Rižnar  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2017 - 2019  146 
19.  28327  PhD Nadja Romih  Biology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  49 
20.  12659  PhD Marjana Simonič  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2016 - 2019  573 
21.  33117  Franc Veršič    Technical associate  2016 - 2019 
22.  24661  Rajko Zavec    Technical associate  2016 - 2019 
23.  20457  Andreja Žagar    Technical associate  2016 - 2017  62 
Organisations (6)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0103  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology  Ljubljana  1626990  23,454 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  67,269 
3.  0794  University of Maribor, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering  Maribor  5089638012  13,190 
4.  1421  Scientific research Centre Bistra Ptuj  Ptuj  5844975000  445 
5.  2106  PERUTNINA PTUJ reja perutnine, proizvodnja krmil, perutninskega mesa in izdelkov, trgovina in storitve d.o.o. (Slovene)  Ptuj  5141966  57 
6.  2434  Institute of Environmental and Spatial Planning  Velenje  2194015  282 
The production of biogas from wastes of animal and plant origins is regarded as an efficient way to produce energy whilst solving severe environmental problems. It represents an important step towards achieving the energy self-sufficiencies of meat production processes and transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources. However, systems analyses of the biogas production, especially that from manure and other animal wastes involving high fractions of ligno-cellulosic materials, show that the biogas production, besides being non-optimal, suffers several problems which prevent the production from being economically viable unless it is strongly subsidised financially: i) utilisation of food plants (corn grain or silage) as extra carbon sources cause unpleasant and costly competition between the food and energy sectors when utilising food biomass; ii) lower conversion of substrates into biogas due to difficult decomposition of ligno-cellulosic materials; iii) inappropriate use of digestate by spreading it as fertilizer on fields causing environmental burdens and large consumptions of fresh water; and iv) inefficient use of low-temperature heat released by the production of electricity in cogeneration units. In order to make the biogas production competitive with respect to fossil fuels, it has to be optimised thoroughly at every level of the biogas chemical supply-chain - from raw-material, to reactive path, process, and Total Site level. Five research subtopics would be proposed in order to facilitate both continuous improvement and discrete innovations of the supply chain: 1. At the raw-materials level, the identification of non-food fast-growing plants and wood scraps as a carbon source and optimisation of the input inoculum and substrates. 2. At the bioreaction paths level, the development of pretreatment procedures for activating the organic ligno-cellulosic carbon, increasing the substrates conversion into biogas, upgrading biogas into useful products, e.g. synthesis gas and biofuels, and converting digestate into high-value high-quality bio-fertilizers, e.g. using bio-char. 3. At the process level, the multi-criteria optimisation of the process flowsheet by the advanced mathematical programming techniques in order to i) perform simultaneous flowsheet and close-to-zero-waste mass, heat and energy integration, ii) minimise fresh water consumption by designing close-loop configuration, iii) optimise combined heat, electricity and cooling production, and iv) integrate other renewable energies, e.g. photovoltaics, rainwater, geothermal energy, within the supply chain. 4. At the Total Site level, the multi-criteria integration of a biogas plant into the supply chain of Perutnina Ptuj and the surroundings in order to increase the raw-materials and energy self-sufficiency of the corporation, establish and optimise the distribution network for the raw-materials and products, as well as heat, electricity and cooling distribution into the local grids. 5. Based on the knowledge gained from the optimisation of the biogas process, a holistic concept for sustainable synthesis and operation of renewable bioprocesses would be proposed in order to obtain sustainable, integrated and global or near global solutions. The main challenge of the research would be to thus upgrade the competitiveness of biogas processes in particular and renewable bioprocesses in general against fossil-based processes. The main innovative aspect of the project would be to perform the optimisation across the whole chemical supply-chain integrally by applying a combined experimental and Process Systems Engineering approach. The proposed consortium would consist of one industrial, three academic and two research partners, providing highly professional and complementary expertise, equipment, pilot plants, and the industrial site needed to apply the combined experimental and Process Systems Engineering approach. The project is planned to cover a period of t
Significance for science
Processes based on renewable energy sources could become competitive with the fossil-based processes only with the comprehensive management of their (bio)chemical supply chains at all levels from raw materials through products, process flow schemes, entire industrial complexes and their Total Sites. The basic original scientific contribution of the proposed project would be the development of the comprehensive methodology for the sustainable designing of biogas plants and other renewable-based processes with the purpose of increasing the energy and raw material self-sufficiencies of the companies and regions. This research would connect the laboratory research, experiments at the pilot bio-reactors and micro-reactors, optimisation of biogas process, and knowledge transfer to the industrial level. The research would be applied to all levels of the development of biogas processes; i.e. pre-treatment methods for raw materials and their efficient conversion into biogas and other green products, optimisation of the industrial locally-integrated bioprocesses and regional supply networks. Such an integrated approach would represent a novelty in the world. The recent research has namely been aimed mostly at solving specific problems regarding the production of renewable energy, and not at solving the comprehensive overall systems. Therefore, the expected scientific contribution in addition to the comprehensive methodology would be the following: Identifications of the alternative inedible energy crops, wood and ligno-cellulosic agricultural waste, suitable as a carbon source during the anaerobic fermentation; Discovery of new (bio)reactive paths for the pre-treatment of hardly-degradable ligno-cellulosic raw materials, and efficient conversion of animal and plant biomass into biogas; Utilisation of environmentally-harmful digestate for the production of high quality fertiliser on the basis of composting it with bio-char, or the process to organic mineral and nitrogen fertiliser by recycling the water present within the digestate; Determination of reactive kinetics and the development of mathematical models and software tools for the comprehensive implementation of sustainable process synthesis within an entire supply chain. The synthesis would be based on renewable energy sources and various raw materials that require different pre-treatment methods and fermentation conditions; Multi-criteria optimisation for the designing of new more efficient biogas plants and modernisation of existing ones by considering environmental impacts and life-cycle assessments; Synthesis of renewable regional networks for the production and consumption of energy, food and other products by the use of mathematical optimisation; Heat and Total Site integration and utilisation of low-grade heat for the heating of plants, production of cold and district heating; Development of a methodology for the maximisation of energy self-sufficiency of industrial plants in chemical, food and other processing industries based on renewable resources.
Significance for the country
This research would directly contribute towards solving those major problems incurred when utilising renewable resources. Several biogas plants’ owners in Slovenia are facing major financial difficulties, which have led to shut downs of several biogas plants, whilst several others have ended up in the Bank Assets Management Company. The biogas production area has been insufficiently managed during recent years. The main problems have been the inadequacies and unavailability of raw materials, low economic efficiency and excessive environmental impacts. This research would offer comprehensive solutions for overcoming such problems which would be useful for the co-financing company Perutnina Ptuj as well as the other biogas plants' owners in Slovenia and throughout the European Union. This research would contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions which would be in line with the Kyoto Protocol, European Union's '20-20-20' targets for increasing a share of renewable energy and improving the carbon footprints of regions, and the long-term goal of the Republic of Slovenia stated in the draft of the Proposal of direction for the preparation of energy concept of the Republic of Slovenia (2015). Realisation of those main goals as intended for achievement within the project would be of great importance for both co-financer Perutnina Ptuj and for a more systematic regulation of the renewable sources in Slovenia. These objectives are as follows: More efficient utilisation of animal, agricultural and wood waste for the production of green energy and products by using multipurpose and inedible energy crops as a source of carbon; Reduction of environmental burden due to a large amount of waste obtained by the production of meat, and conversion of waste into useful products and energy; Integration of the entire industrial Total Site with a variety of renewable energy sources; Utilisation of low-grade heat for heating the plants, production of cooling by absorption and adsorption chillers and for district heating; Increasing energy self-sufficiency, and consequently, the economic efficiencies and competitiveness of companies, as well as promoting sustainable development. By achieving these objectives, an accelerated increase in the use of the renewable energy sources could be expected, and also by this new business opportunities and jobs within the field of bio-economy. The objectives of the proposed research are consistent with the objectives of the participating industrial partner. It is expected that the results of the project would significantly contribute to the stable and sustainable development of the company, region and country.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
Views history