The Up4Health project focuses on developing a sustainable and cost-effective production process for upcycling olive, grape, and nut by-products into four natural and healthy ingredients suitable for nutraceutical and cosmetic applications. CTA´s primary task is to eco-design the biorefinery that optimizes and evaluates various scale-up strategies.
To achieve this, a multi-objective optimization (MOO) approach is being employed. CTA utilizes Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) models and other simulations to eco-design the production process and aims to identify and implement optimized solutions by varying the target variables and calculating new results. The concept of eco-design involves employing the LCSA approach to generate environmental and sustainability indicators, which aid in the design of both products and processes. The main goal is to minimize negative impacts at the early stages of development.
The objectives of the project can be summarized as follows:
- Demonstrate the technical viability of Up4Health production in an operational environment.
- Establish the economic and environmental feasibility of the production process at a pre-industrial scale.
- Evaluate the social impacts of the project production process in terms of job creation and retention.
To achieve these objectives, CTA focuses on eco-designing the following four main components:
- Aspen Simulation: CTA models different processes based on primary production data using Aspen, a powerful process simulation software. This enables us to create accurate representations of our production system and explore various scenarios.
- Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): Environmental impacts resulting from the production process are calculated using data obtained from the Aspen simulation. By considering factors such as raw material extraction, energy consumption, waste generation, and emissions, valuable insights into the sustainability of the operations are gained, enabling a comprehensive analysis of the product’s life cycle.
- Life Cycle Costing (LCC): Cost parameters associated with the production process are determined by considering the input/output flows of the simulation. By considering input and output flows from the Aspen simulation, CTA can calculate the financial implications of our operations and identify opportunities for cost optimization.
- Optimization: This step involves continuously assessing the results of LCA and LCC through iterations of variables in the Aspen simulation. Through modifications of the target variables and objectives based on LCA and LCC outcomes, we strive to optimize the production process.
Additionally, once the biorefinery is successfully scaled up, a comprehensive Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) of the plant will be conducted to ensure it meets the expectations of the eco-design level it was developed for. This assessment will provide a holistic evaluation of the environmental, economic, and social performance, in terms of job creation potential, of the scaled-up production process.
Up4Health not only focuses on the initial eco-design and optimization of the production process but also emphasizes the importance of conducting a comprehensive LCSA of the scaled-up plant with experimental data. By doing so, CTA aims to ensure that the production process meets the desired sustainability objectives and continues to minimize negative impacts while maximizing its positive environmental, economic, and social contributions.
In summary, Up4Health tries to develop a sustainable and cost-effective production process by employing eco-design principles. Through the integration of Aspen Simulation, Life Cycle Assessment, Life Cycle Costing, and continuous optimization, the main objective is to create a production process that minimizes negative environmental impacts, ensures economic feasibility, and evaluates the social implications of the process.