5th Newsletter of the H2020 FRONTSH1P Project
13/07/2023

January 2023

Welcome to the 5th Newsletter of the FRONTSH1P Project

This fifth issue of the FRONTSH1P newsletter focuses on Work Package 5 (WP) of our project, which deals with the third of our four Circular Systemic Solutions (CSS), concerned with the valorisation of wastewater. The seven articles on WP5 give you an overview of the task, explore some of its core technologies – wastewater treatment, cultivation of microalgae and CO2 capture -, and describe the synergies between CSS3 and the other work packages as well as the issues and barriers faced during the work.

 

CSS3: A Circular Systemic Solution for Cleaning and Reusing Liquid and Gaseous Wastes using Microalgae

Microalgae have been seen as a potential sustainable source of biofuels, bioenergy and a wide array of biobased products such as plant biofertilizers and biostimulants. The possibility of using wastewater as nutrient source for microalgae does not enter into competition with food and feed production. Through the FRONTSH1P Project, liquid and gaseous waste will be reused by communities providing a solution to environmental problems, generating revenues and employment, and involving key territorial partners at a regional scale, which is expected to allow the promotion of the circular (bio)economy.

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Bio-Based Derived Products from Microalgae Biomass for Agriculture

By 2050, the growing population will require 60% more food, the agriculture yields will be reduced by more than 10% due to climate change, 33% of the soils will be degraded due to erosion and pollution, and 50 to 80% of the nitrogen load in the freshwater bodies will come from the overuse of synthetic fertilisers. Microalgae cultivation by recovering the “pollutants” from the wastewater that become “nutrients”, could help with the economic and environmental sustainability of the green transition process, reducing, as well, the water footprint.

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Carbon Capture from Industrial Gases through Microalgae Photosynthesis

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies have been expected to be a major tool for reducing atmospheric CO2 concentration, being pivotal in climate change mitigation. Conventional CCS processes (geological, physical, and chemical) are known to be complex, highly power intensive, somewhat expensive, and environmentally doubtful. Biological CCS technologies using microalgae have been proposed as environmentally-friendly promising alternatives offering a completely different approach – not only to trap CO2 but also to immediately use it for circular energy production and generation of bio-based products, creating value as well.

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Efficient Wastewater Treatment using Microalgae:
A FRONTSH1P approach to eutrophication and CO2-rich gases management

Microalgae can remove nutrients from wastewater, such as phosphorous (P) and nitrogen (N), which are major contributors to eutrophication. Eutrophication is a process in which bodies of water become overloaded with nutrients, leading to excessive growth of algae and other aquatic plants. Microalgae are a diverse group of photosynthetic microorganisms that can remove pollutants from wastewater through a process known as biofiltration. This process involves the growth of microalgae in a treatment system where they can remove pollutants such as nutrients, heavy metals, and organic compounds, through uptake and metabolism from the wastewater.

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Characterisation of Wastewater and CO2-Rich Gases

Wastewater and CO2-rich gases are important environmental concerns that can have significant impacts on human health and the planet’s ecosystems. The characterisation of these materials is crucial for understanding their properties and for developing effective strategies for their management and reuse in the circular economy and is one of the key goals of FRONTSH1P Circular Systemic Solution 3.

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The Synergies between CSS3 and other Work Packages

The FRONTSH1P project contains 4 major Circular Systemic Solutions (CSSs) strongly linked to each other. All CSSs create a circular value chain within each CSSs as well as in the cross-cutting approach, i.e., on a higher level of the entire project. More specifically, each CSSs is built on a well-developed network of information, data, and material exchange, which depend on each other to close the loop foreseen by the application of a circular approach. CSS3 entitled “Water and Nutrients” aims to further develop to higher TRL a compact wastewater management unit for nutrients (P, N, K) extraction from agricultural wastewaters and a bigger plant for municipal wastewater both using microalgae to produce circular bio-stimulants from wastewaters and to close the water loop and recycle clean water.

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CSS3: Current and Future Challenges

The partners and other stakeholders involved in FRONTHSH1P CSS3 will be challenged with several potential threats to the well-timed progress of the project. The challenges brought by CSS3 can be summarised in two categories. First, those related to technical and scientific barriers (bottlenecks) and lastly those inherent to organisational activities in the framework of the implementation plan.

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This newsletter is the result of work undertaken as part of the of the FRONTSH1P project, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101037031.

 

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