By developing new technologies to recover energy and minerals from waste, also new methods can be found to clean up the waste streams from existing processes for energy and mineral extraction from fossil sources.
These new technologies enable removal of sulfur, metals and nitrogen, or preventing their emissions from water and gas streams. These technologies will also have a positive influence on many environmental problems, like acid rain, climate change, and cadmium pollution of soils.
Societies are highly dependent on access to mineral and energy resources. At this moment the world depends on fossil reserves of both minerals and energy. For the transition to a more sustainable world it is necessary to change from fossil sources to renewable sources. For minerals, recovery from many residual streams of industry and cities can be a new source. Energy can be recovered from residual streams from cities and agriculture. Finally, new energy conversion technologies based on the sun (biomass, direct sun conversion, fresh water flows) can be developed.
The biorecovery group seeks to solve these environmental problems by using biobased technologies to recover energy and inorganic compounds from residual streams. Innovative research is on-going in the following areas:
- Production of electrical energy, fuels and sustainable heat from residual biomass. This type of biomass is left over after extraction of valuable (food) ingredients from agricultural products. The use of residual biomass enhances the economic and social potential of our processes. We use natural biotechnology i.e. we employ the processes as they occur in nature.
- Application of the biological sulphur-cycle in water and gas treatment.
- Recovery and removal of heavy metals from industrial wastewater and/or groundwater.
- Biological modification of (waste) materials to reduce the environmental impact or improve the efficiency of industrial processing.
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Central in our approach is the development and operation of bioreactors that enable the selection of the right organism for the desired conversion. The research is based on lab-scale systems where the selection of natural micro-organisms takes place and can be studied and steered. Next to this practical research models are needed to describe and further develop these processes
The research has a multidisciplinary character, including microbiology, analytical and colloid chemistry, geology, biophysics, process technology, electrochemistry, and automation.
Development of innovative processes for the recovery of inorganic minerals, organic fules/chemicals and the production of renewable energy.
Development of more sustainable industrial production processes, in co-operation with end-users and technology providers