Professor Sandra Esteves, a specialist in bioprocess technology at USW’s Sustainable Environment Research Centre (SERC), is leading the SMART Circle Research Consortium, which aims to help businesses improve their efficiency, reduce environmental impact, generate more income and reduce bills.
Consortium partners include Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and Cogent Power, which is part of the TATA Steel Group. Other partners include GP Biotec, Bryn Power, FRE-Energy, BPE Design and Support, Heatcatcher and, from Spain, the Severo Ochoa Foundation.
Sandra Esteves, Professor in Bioprocess Technology for Resource Recovery: Energy and Materials at the Sustainable Environment Research Centre, University of South Wales and director of the Wales Centre of Excellence for Anaerobic Digestion
The consortium will work together to explore how innovative bio-processes can be used to improve the overall efficiency of a range of industrial operations. For example, one area of focus will be the industrial demonstration of a biological process that will convert waste gases, including carbon dioxide, into a useful fuel and allow the recovery of any wasted heat energy, therefore improving the overall economic and environmental performance of the end user.
The project also aims to develop technology that can recover unused, high-value molecules including nutrients and enzymes from low-value materials such as sewage sludge, commercial and municipal solid wastes. These high-value materials are then available for use in other industrial processes, and the disposal cost of any remaining waste is greatly reduced.
The ultimate aim of the project is to develop
more efficient bio-technology systems that could provide viable
solutions to help businesses become more resource efficient and adopt
‘Circular Economy’ approaches.
“By finding ways in which we can use more of the by-products, the businesses will be able to use these to make their processes more efficient, spend less on waste disposal, become more environmentally friendly, and, in turn, improve quality of life for wider society.
"Working with business partners will mean that we have access to a wide variety of production and waste treatment processes which we can study to develop these more efficient systems.”
“The principle of extracting the maximum value from the material that we treat will help us to continue to meet our regulatory requirements and protect our environment, as well as providing best value to our customers.”