The project

What are the ManureEcoMine challenges?

  • European cows and pigs jointly produce about 1.27 billion ton/year, corresponding to 500,000 Olympic swimming pools of manure
  • Direct re-use on soil of manure represents an eutrophication threat in nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ)
  • Nutrients present in manure have a potential value of €10.7 billion/year, farmers now pay €15.5 billion/year for synthetic fertilizers
  • EU is import dependent for synthetic fertilizer: ore for P, and fossil fuel for N
  • Current dissipative manure treatment technologies are costly and generate no nutrient resources recovery nor value in return

Intensive agriculture is heavily dependent on the input of synthetic fertilizers to sustain food and feed production.  Manure represents an unexploited resource of organic carbon and nutrients, and therefore an exquisite ‘mining’ opportunity. ManureEcoMine proposes an integrated approach to the treatment and reuse of manure in nitrate vulnerable and sensitive areas and beyond, by applying the eco-innovative principles of sustainability, resource recovery and energy efficiency.


Which methodologies will be used in ManureEcoMine?

  • Demonstration pilot plant for nutrient recovery from manure (capacity ~150 L manure/day)
  • Application flexibility of the pilot demonstrated by operating in two countries (NL, ES), processing cattle and pig manure, with different co-substrates added and different anaerobic digestion and P recovery scenarios
  • Lab-scale experiments supporting the pilot plant operation
  • Blending of nutrient streams recovered from the pilot plant into green fertilizers
  • Proof of fertilization efficiency of the green fertilizers in comparison to synthetic fertilizers with plant growth tests
  • Development of risk management with regard to trace contaminants for guaranteeing safe handling, high product quality for a closed nutrient cycle 
  • Accomplishment of simulation studies to validate low environmental impact and high cost efficiency

The methodologies that will guide the ManureEcoMine project can be divided in two categories, the first represents a logical nutrient transformation flow while the second provides a central control and feedback core. A demonstration plant will be designed and constructed, followed by the full-scale technological start-up of the plant and its steady-state operation. The plant will be of relevant scale and flexibility for incoming and outgoing streams. Lab-scale support will be provided for the demonstration plant, giving output for its start-up and optimization: anaerobic digestion, ammonia stripping, solid/liquid separation, struvite precipitation and autotrophic biological nitrogen removal (partial nitritation/anammox). The blending of the recovered nutrient streams into high-end fertilizer products and their conversion into nutrients in plant and soil will represent two crucial nutrient transformation. The whole chain will be evaluated through economic and environmental sustainability optimization and an elaborated risk management system for harmful trace contaminants will ensure the safety of ManureEcoMine project.


What are the final objectives of ManureEcoMine?

  • Provide farmers with the technical means to extract nutrient streams from their manure
  • Develop a process built on the biogas technology platform, and such enabling full energy self sufficiency of the technology
  • Supply industry with methods to blend and refine these streams into high performance fertilizer and soil enhancement products, which have better and more specific plant growth effects than raw manure
  • Demonstrate the economic and technological feasibility of integrating technologies that have not yet reached the market

ManureEcoMine aims at demonstrating manure technologically and economically as a valuable, mineable resource to up-cycle manure nutrients to high-end green fertilizers products though eco-innovative technologies, with all economic, environmental and safety/risk integrally managed. The eco-innovative ManureEcoMine technology is based on the following concepts: maximum recovery of nutrients, energy self-sufficiency, minimal greenhouse gas emission and high-performance fertilizers production. A first set of specific technological nutrient “transformation” objectives determines the nutrient up-cycling chain: technically relevant scale system, feedstock flexibility, robustness, recovery flexibility and efficiency, blended high-performance fertilizers with stimulatory effects on plant growth and soil health. Then a demonstration set is focused integrally on recovery, blending and crop growth, with studies on economic viability, environmental sustainability, life cycle assessment and risk management on trace contaminants.


What are the expected results of ManureEcoMine?

  • Preserve the environment  by recovering and reusing nutrients from livestock manure
  • Stimulate market uptake for manure nutrient recovery technology
  • Turn Manure into a feasible marketable resource

Recovering and reusing nutrients from livestock manure clearly represents a high potential to preserve the environment and to re-address the existing market demand. ManureEcoMine will stimulate the market uptake of manure nutrient recovery technology, demonstrating the economic and technical viability of integrated existing technologies that have not yet reached the market. The impact of the project will come from demonstrating the feasibility of recovering nutrient resources from livestock manure to produce added-value end-user fertilizer products. With the right technology, manure should not be seen as a waste product, but as a resource that should be commercially mined for added value. The final beneficiaries will be designers, builder, operators and maintainers of treatment plants, nutrient trader and fertilizer blender companies and besides them, farmers that choose to treat their manure locally. The technology proposed by ManureEcoMine will be easily expanded, resulting in an higher market impact and more entrepreneurial opportunities.