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Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Sustainable technologies and Circular Economy

Periods
January 1, 2022 - December 31, 2027
Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
2.02.00  Engineering sciences and technologies  Chemical engineering   

Code Science Field
2.04  Engineering and Technology  Chemical engineering  
Keywords
Sustainable technologies, Circular economy, Sustainability, Integrated systems approach, Renewable energy sources, Resource management, New materials and technologies, Closed loops, Modeling, simulation and optimisation, Advanced business models, Life cycle sustainability and safety assessment
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Points
10,028.08
A''
4,132.95
A'
6,275.93
A1/2
7,588.12
CI10
21,322
CImax
651
h10
67
A1
36.63
A3
8.13
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on July 22, 2024; A3 for period 2018-2022
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender, archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  797  22,956  20,413  25.61 
Scopus  860  26,353  23,493  27.32 
Researchers (17)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  51167  Doris Bračič  Textile and leather  Researcher  2023 - 2024  25 
2.  31616  PhD Maja Čolnik  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2022 - 2024  128 
3.  30944  PhD Lidija Čuček  Chemical engineering  Former/secondary head  2022 - 2024  448 
4.  55624  Monika Dokl  Chemical engineering  Junior researcher  2023 - 2024  40 
5.  02556  PhD Goran Dražić  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  1,048 
6.  34342  PhD Matej Huš  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2022 - 2024  715 
7.  57006  Mihael Irgolič  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2023 - 2024  14 
8.  35375  PhD Primož Jovanovič  Chemistry  Researcher  2022  191 
9.  23431  PhD Vasko Jovanovski  Chemistry  Researcher  2023 - 2024  132 
10.  23475  PhD Damjan Krajnc  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2022 - 2024  166 
11.  34528  PhD Andraž Pavlišič  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  109 
12.  19268  PhD Zdenka Peršin Fratnik  Materials science and technology  Researcher  2022 - 2024  226 
13.  34486  PhD Aleksandra Petrovič  Chemical engineering  Head  2022 - 2024  77 
14.  57403  Jan Puhar  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2023 - 2024  40 
15.  58223  Jan Šiler Hudoklin  Chemical engineering  Junior researcher  2023 - 2024 
16.  11865  PhD Mojca Škerget  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2022 - 2024  772 
17.  28169  Bojana Žiberna  Chemical engineering  Technical associate  2022 - 2024  31 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0794  University of Maribor, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering  Maribor  5089638012  13,196 
2.  0104  National Institute of Chemistry  Ljubljana  5051592000  21,285 
3.  0795  University ob Maribor, Faculty of mechanical engineering  Maribor  5089638010  24,092 
Abstract
The purpose of the proposed research program is to develop an integrated systems approach to progress towards sustainability of modern industries, by intensifying the use of renewable energy resources, waste management, climate change mitigation, as well as discovery of new materials and technologies, which could turn waste into a resource and closing the loops on waste materials. Research program comprises of five research parts: 1) development of new pathways for sustainable resource management, 2) industrial symbiosis of pathways for chemical production, 3) development of advanced characterization instrumentation and methods, 4) multi-scale modelling, simulation, and optimization of low-carbon profile technologies, and 5) life cycle sustainability and safety assessment of environmental technologies. The first part of research deals with recycling and possible upcycling, energy recovery of renewable waste and end-of-life waste materials into circular chemistry. The aim of this topic is to develop new approaches and technologies for the exploitation and/or conversion of waste materials into valuable products, conduct research on biological and thermal conversions for material and energy recovery, investigate degradation and fragmentation of plastic waste, perform nutrient recovery studies for soil improvements, and conduct research on application of biosorbents for decontamination of pollutants. The second part of research deals with synthesis of sustainable technologies to produce chemical products. Advanced hybrid approach will be used for the synthesis of value chains for producing certain bulk chemicals and plastics to support a circular economy transition. Surrogate models will be derived from simulations and will be integrated into the optimisation models of the chemicals value chains. Further, model-based analyses of experimental data will be performed to improve (bio)chemical processes and systems. In the third part, advanced characterisation instrumentation and methods will be developed which will enable the microstructural investigation at an atomic level to investigate the atomic properties of functional materials with novel properties. The fourth part of research deals with modelling, simulation and optimisation of sustainable supply chains and advanced business models producing energy and products at different scales, multi-scale modelling of photoelectrochemical CO2 conversion into value-added products, integration of renewable energy in various sectors, and optimisation of energy transformations by conventional and advanced thermodynamic cycles for sustainable energy utilisation. In the last part of research, life cycle sustainability (LCSA) and safety assessment will be performed for value-added products and environmental technologies. LCSA will combine economic, environmental and social pillars of sustainability, while safety aspect will be evaluated by applying Chemical Process Quantitative Risk Assessment (CPQRA) method.
Significance for science
The proposed project will contribute to identifying promising solutions and innovative approaches for a more sustainable lifestyle, and for transformation of production into modern industry. The results will contribute to the development of science in the important fields of sustainable development and environmental protection. The results of the project will have a significant impact in advancing the zero-waste future. First research topic will contribute to scientific development by identifying promising solutions for reducing the use of raw materials, designing end-of-life recycling, increasing recycling capacity, developing bio-based materials, waste reduction strategies and other. The most significant scientific contribution will be presented in a potential for chemical recycling and upcycling of different value chains to process monomer components or other valuable chemicals. A fundamental understanding of the degradation processes under different soil conditions and water bodies represents an important contribution to scientific knowledge. The second research topic will result in detailed simulations of existing industrial processes and further optimisations of them will be performed. The interlinking between several industrial complexes will be simulated, where the main scientific contribution will be approaching zero-waste modern industrial complexes. The third research topic will explore electrocatalytic processes which have gained considerable interest, as they allow direct conversion between electrical energy and chemical energy. One of the most promising reactions is the splitting of water or the water cycle, namely hydrogen economy. Indeed, hydrogen is widely accepted as a green and high-density energy carrier also referred to as a vector. The main task will be to lower or completely remove the precious metals from the fuel cells however by keeping its high efficiency and industry-relevant current densities. This demands the development of new catalysts, understanding their properties and designing the reaction system on the device level. One of the main expected scientific outputs of the fourth research topic will be the synthesis of sustainable value chains using a mathematical programming approach to assess complex systems. The circular economy concept is an overly complex system of mass and energy flows at the level of companies, communities, countries, and society, which is difficult to handle without sophisticated mathematical models based on the mathematical programming approach. The constant need to evaluate the sustainability of production systems requires mixed-integer (non-)linear programming that considers economic, environmental, and social criteria. In the fifths research topic, the results will include economic, environmental, social an safety aspects, taking into account all processes in the system (savings related to fossil fuel replacement are included). Linking the assessment of environmental, socio-economic and safety aspects can support a more comprehensive sustainability assessment of impacts, benefits, and associated trade-offs. The assessment of techno-economic evaluation and socio-environmental impacts of different synthesis routes and also the development of several new footprints will be a significant scientific contribution. To summarize, the project will have a significant contribution to the development of science on a global scale, which will unite many interdisciplinary fields.
Significance for the country
During the research project, we will upgrade the existing business models and develop new circular business ones, which will be formulated in a general way to be used for different industries. In this way, we will focus our research on the public benefit for the needs of the economy as a whole. In developing new models, we will synergistically connect models for optimising process schemes, supply chains in the production of products (linear economic systems) and entire supply networks of the company (circular economic systems) and models for optimising the energy and water network of companies. With an optimised production process scheme, we will help improve the competitiveness of companies in global markets and help increase entrepreneurial activity. Optimised operations will make it easier for companies to place themselves on the global market than environmentally friendly companies with reduced emissions and optimised consumption of raw materials and energy sources. With economic optimisation, we will reduce the prices of finished products, which will increase the competitiveness of companies compared to other manufacturers. By considering several indeterminate parameters and time fluctuations resulting from high commodity price volatility in the market and demand, which is usually pronounced, it will be easier for companies to adapt to constantly changing market demands. Economic optimisation of production processes will have very positive effects for companies, which are expected to be reflected in an increase in added value, increased market share and an increase in sales and exports. Environmental optimisation of production processes will enable companies to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of production processes, which will have positive social consequences in a broader sense and contribute to sustainable development. Due to the societal importance of the project topic, the program will be of interest to both the scientific community and other stakeholders from non-academic communities, both at local, regional, and national levels (companies, organizations, local governments and end-users). Through collaboration, the project will contribute to a new understanding of current production systems to start exploring and changing from linear to circular production systems with shared innovative ideas and solutions. Innovative approaches to circular process systems technology will also be applied in activities that impact people's quality of life. Procedures will be developed to reduce water and air pollution, which positively affects human health. A successful application of the planned research program is expected to bring about a simultaneous reduction of waste treatment, raw material input, fuel costs and environmental footprints within the application domains. The critical factor for achieving that would be implementing the proposed tools in follow-up activities to make the tools popular. To ensure this, the project group will use their powerful dissemination tools and vast contact network. The research program will consider the economic, environmental and social dimensions. We will promote renewable energy sources and innovation and take into account biodiversity and cultural and social diversity.
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