Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Sustainable optimization of integrated bio-refineries

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  
integrated bio-refinery, process optimization, heat integration, water minimization, poly-generation, sustainable development indicators, batch process, continuous process, design, retrofit, industrial application
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (7)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  26217  PhD Miloš Bogataj  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2010 - 2013  138 
2.  01347  PhD Peter Glavič  Chemical engineering  Head  2010 - 2013  1,122 
3.  31228  Saša Hočurščak  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2011 - 2013 
4.  10878  PhD Anita Kovač-Kralj  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2010 - 2013  336 
5.  23475  PhD Damjan Krajnc  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2010 - 2013  166 
6.  11369  PhD Zorka Novak Pintarič  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2010 - 2013  477 
7.  19271  PhD Darja Pečar  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2010 - 2013  320 
Organisations (1)
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  13,183 
A bio-refinery transforms different kinds of biomass in the sustainable manner into higher value-added products (chemicals, materials, food, feed), and energy (bio-fuels, heat and power). Simultaneous production of high-value products and energy with no wastes improves the utilization of biomass which is not the case with simple fermentation of crops into fuels, and wood ignition. Bio-refineries should be decentralized and organized at the local level because the transportation cost could rise enormously. They have to cope with seasonal variations in raw material supply and difficult wood delignification.   Some chemical, biochemical, pharmaceutical, and food production plants could be regarded as bio-refineries. The proposed research will focus on a brewery plant where the fermentation takes place. The main goal of numerous such plants is to reach more efficient utilization of mass an energy resources, higher value-added production, and reduced environmental impact. Not too many studies have been conducted recently in the field of efficient and sustainable bio-refineries design. Systematic tools for quick applications to industrial plants are not available. Traditional design techniques for the process industry are not directly applicable to bio-refineries because of the large number of possible feed-stocks, different technologies, and specific nature of products.   The main goal of the proposed project is to develop the methodology for conceptual design and sustainable optimization of bio-refineries. The emphasis will be on increasing economical and operational efficiencies, improving environmental protection, and increasing the added value of bio-refineries. The economical and operating efficiencies can be increased by applying process integration methods for batch-continuous plants. This way, the use of raw materials, fresh water, heat and power can be reduced. Better environmental protection can be achieved by analyzing alternatives for cleaner production, zero-emissions, closed systems with material and energy recycling, replacement of non-renewable resources with renewable ones, etc. Higher value added can be achieved by generating and analyzing various options of biomass transformation, as well as transformation of by-products, wastes, and waste water into alternative products and energy sources by fermentation, gasification, combustion, and/or combined heat and power generation.   The methodological framework of the proposed project will include computer-aided process engineering methods of process integration and optimization. These methods will be combined with hierarchical, thermodynamic and evolutionary approaches of process design in order to apply the proposed methodology to complex bio-refinery problems. Environmental impacts and sustainable development of the proposed bio-refineries will be evaluated by means of sustainability indicators, Life Cycle Assessment approach, and Material Flow Cost Accounting. Sustainability performance of bio-refineries will thus be assessed quantitatively.   The methods developed will be examined and implemented to the case studied brewery plant. The expected result is a general methodology for systematic design of grass-root bio-refinery plants as well as for retrofitting the existing chemical, pharmaceutical, food and beverage plants. This methodology will simultaneously increase the economic efficiency, while on the other side it will contribute to reduced environmental impacts, more sustainable use of renewable resources, and increased added value of complex bio-refinery plants. The results could contribute to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, improved energy efficiency, and increased share of renewable sources.
Significance for science
The original results are a complete, user friendly methodologies for systematic design of integrated bio-refineries, taking into account economic efficiency, reducing environmental impacts, stimulating the use of renewableresources, and increasing the added value of complex bio-refinery plants. The research group has published the project's original achievements in top quality scientific and engineering journals.
Significance for the country
The methods developed have been applied to a case study of a brewery. Integration of fresh water users, heat integration, a feasibility study to install a poly-generation system, and substitution of some nonrenewable energy sources with renewable ones have been investigated. Some potential possibilities to use co-products and wastes of beer production for energy carriers and products with higher value added have been investigated as well. Economic and environmentally optimal alternatives for zero waste production, resource recycling, and increased share of returnable packaging have been studied. Supply chains of raw materials, products and packaging have been analyzed. The results and the methodologies developed represent a step forward towards reaching the goals of the Kyoto Protocol in reducing green house gas emissions, as well as reaching the EU 2020 goals of more efficient use of energy, and increased share of renewable resources of energy. The case studied company has two breweries and two plants for nonalcoholic beverages. The results and the methodologies are also important for other, similar (combined batchcontinous) processes in beverage plants, chemical, pharmaceutical, food, textile and similar industries. The results and the methodologies are interesting for plant designers and software developers, too.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2010, 2011, 2012, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2010, 2011, 2012, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Views history