On 11 June 2019, the 21st BioSC Lecture took place at Forschungszentrum Jülich. Prof. Dr. Erik Meers from the University of Ghent presented the Biorefine Cluster Europe, an association of 21 EU projects. The participating projects are working on innovations for the transition to a circular economy in which waste streams are used as secondary resources.
The BioRefine Cluster Europe was founded in 2013 and funded as part of the EU Commission's "Circular Economy package". The aim of this EU programme is to move from linear to circular value creation, in which waste streams do not pollute the environment but are used as resources. The Biorefine Cluster networks research projects for the valorisation of residual flows from agriculture, agro- and food industry as well as biological waste and wastewater flows and supports the implementation of the results in practice.
Erik Meers presented a number of projects from the Biorefine Cluster in which he is or was involved. The SYSTEMIC project is developing new biorefinery systems that make it possible not only to produce biogas from liquid manure, sewage sludge and food residues, but also to recover phosphate and nitrate from the fermentation residues. In the ALG-AD project, fermentation residues from biogas plants are used as a substrate for algae that produce proteins and lipids which can be used for animal feed, for example. The Nutri2Cycle project investigates the nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon fluxes and the associated environmental problems in farms throughout Europe with various farming techniques in order to derive recommendations on how nutrient cycles can be closed more efficiently in future.
Building on the activities of the Biorefine Cluster, the University of Ghent has recently established a business unit "End of waste" to initiate collaborations between academia and industry.