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Ivan Tolpe Award laureate almost ready for full-scale application

03 april 2018

In 2017, Fraunhofer IGB won with the BioEcoSim project the second Ivan Tolpe Award, a homage to the late Ivan Tolpe, a pioneer in manure processing from West-Flanders. Since then, a mobile unit for phosphorus recovery was designed and the technique was sold to Suez, who started with the building of a full-scale plant in Northern Germany.

Ivan Tolpe Award laureate almost ready for full-scale application

Update on the BioEcoSim project

As a homage to Ivan Tolpe, pioneer and driving force in the Flemish manure processing sector, who deceased during a tragic work incident, the Flemish Coordination Centre for Manure Processing (VCM) has launched the ‘Ivan Tolpe’ Award in 2015. The aim is to develop and support innovative, promising techniques, in order to maintain the leading role of Flanders in manure processing.

The members of VCM selected in 2017 from 4 nominees Fraunhofer IGB with its BioEcoSim concept as winner of the second edition.

This German research centre submitted a total solution for nutrient recovery from manure and digestate. The concept is very interesting in the Flemish context, especially because it allows to separate the phosphorous from the organic matter in the manure. This would result in a thick fraction with a low phosphorous content that can be applied on the Flemish agricultural fields, improving the soil quality, while the phosphorous salts could be exported to regions with a phosphorus shortage or could be used in the mineral fertilizer industry.

Iosif Mariakakis from Fraunhofer IGB confirms winning the Ivan Tolpe Award gave the project partners more self-confidence and proofed their concept answers an urgent need of both livestock and crop farmers. Several regions of Europe are typified by having a manure surplus, due to a concentration of livestock farming, while other regions have a shortage of animal manure and crop farmers have no alternatives to mineral fertilizers. The proposed phosphorous recovery technique offers a solution for livestock farmers with a manure surplus, while providing crop farmers with high quality organic products.

After receiving the Ivan Tolpe Award, the project partners started to build a mobile unit for phosphorous recovery from manure. The pilot installations of the BioEcoSim project (100 L/h) was scaled up to a mobile unit of 1 m³/h. The set-up of two containers made transportation to different farms possible. This allowed demonstration of the technique at different places but also optimization of the technique for different types of manure.

Meanwhile, the BioEcoSim technology was sold to Suez, a wastewater treatment and waste management giant, who will distribute the technology in Europe. A first full-scale plant implementing the BioEcoSim technique on manure is planned to be ready for use by the end of 2018 in Northern Germany. This location, close to the border with The Netherlands, also coping with a manure surplus, is not coincidentally.