REPAiR – REsource Management in Peri-urban AReas: Going Beyond Urban Metabolism

A shift towards a more circular economy is crucial to achieve more sustainable and inclusive growth. Our objective is to provide local and regional authorities with an innovative transdisciplinary open source geodesign decision support environment (GDSE) developed and implemented in living labs in six metropolitan areas.

The GDSE allows creating integrated, place-based eco-innovative spatial development strategies aiming at a quantitative reduction of waste flows in the strategic interface of peri-urban areas. These strategies will promote the use of waste as a resource, thus support the on-going initiatives of the EC towards establishing a strong circular economy. The identification of such eco-innovative strategies will be based on the integration of life cycle thinking and geodesign to operationalise urban metabolism. Our approach differs from previous UM as we introduce a reversed material flow accounting to collect data accurate and detailed enough for the design of a variety of solutions to place-based challenges.

 

The developed impact and decision models allow quantification and validation of alternative solution paths and therefore promote sustainable urban development built on near-field synergies between the built and natural environments. This will be achieved by quantifying and tracking essential resource flows, mapping and quantification of negative and positive effects of present and future resource flows, and the determination of a set of indicators to inform decision makers concerning the optimization of (re-)use of resources. The GDSE will be open source. With a budget of €5 million, REPAiR funds a consortium rich in experience in waste and resource management, spatial decision support, territorial governance, spatial planning and urban design, and has deep knowledge of the 6 case study areas. REPAiR is supported by a user board, of key stakeholders for the development of CE as well as local authorities, who are heavily involved in the GDSE testing.

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Climate Resilient Cities and Infrastructures

With most of its population and capital goods concentrated in urban areas, cities are key to the European economy.  One of the major challenges cities face are more frequent extreme weather events due to climate change.

The current diversity of approaches and methods available for cities developing an adaptation strategy limits the comparability between cities of vulnerabilities, adaptation options, infrastructures, etc., and, as a result, the resilience capability. The lack of standardized information to prioritize and select appropriate adaptation options restricts the exchange of experiences between cities.

The objective of RESIN is to provide standardised methodologies for vulnerability assessments, performance evaluations of adaptation measures, and for decision support tools supporting the development of robust adaptation strategies tailored to the city. To this end, RESIN aims to create a common unifying framework that allows comparing strategies, results and identification of best practices by

  • Creating an urban typology that characterises European cities based on different socio-economic and biophysical variables
  • Delivering standardised methods for assessing climate change impacts, vulnerabilities, and risks; providing an inventory of adaptation measures and developing standardised methods to assess the performance of such adaptation measures
  • Collaborating closely with 4 ‘case cities’ for practical applicability and reproducibility, and with European Standardisation organisations to ensure a systematic (standardised) implementation
  • Integrating findings in a coherent framework for the decision making process, with associated methods, tools and datasets

The consortium consists of 17 partners from 8 different European countries, experienced in urban resilience and climate change, and combining theory (knowledge institutes/universities) with practice (cities, consultancies, network organisation, standardisation institute).

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A new circular economy concept: from textile waste towards chemical and textile industries feedstock

The RESYNTEX project aims at designing, developing and demonstrating new high environmental impact industrial symbiosis between the unwearable blends and pure components of textile waste and the chemical and textile industries.

The project comprises:

– a strategic design of the whole value chain from textile waste collection, until the new marketable feedstock for chemical & textile industrie, by which the symbiosis opportunities are evaluated (by public authorities and the private sector) in terms of their social, technical, economic, environmental and legislative aspects

– the improvement of collection approaches particularly for non-wearable textiles for recycling by changing citizen’s behaviour and creation of tools for higher social involvement and recycling promotion. This will ensure a greater accessibility to textile waste as resource and increase the textile waste rates destined for recycling. With 50% collection rate all over Europe would be a significant improvement in order to provide large quantities of feedstock

– a data aggregation system that will be developed and implemented in order to ensure waste traceability and also provide relevant data for economic and environmental assessment;

– the development of new business models adapted for different synergies identified and for new markets. In addition, environmental LCA and LCC for different scenarios and identification of the most promising routes and synergies will support this objective

– automation of the macro separation and sorting for pure or blended textiles, in order to enhance productivity and competitiveness of the whole recycling process

– a new demonstration process based on a synergistic chemical and biotechnological cascading separation/transformation approach of textile basic components (proteins, cellulose, polyamide and polyester) from textile blends as basic feedstock materials for chemical & textile industries. Liquid and solid waste treatment and valorisation will close the loop.

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Robotic subsea exploration technologies

There is a need to develop an autonomous, reliable, cost effective technology to map vast terrains, in terms of mineral and raw material contents which will aid in reducing the cost of mineral exploration, currently performed by ROVs and dedicated SSVs and crew.

Furthermore there is a need to identify, in an efficient and non-intrusive manner (minimum impact to the environment), the most rich mineral sites. This technology will aid the seabed mining industry, reduce the cost of exploration and especially the detailed identification of the raw materials contained in a mining sites and enable targeted mining only of the richest resources existing.

The ROBUST proposal aims to tackle the aforementioned issue by developing sea bed in situ material identification through the fusion of two technologies, namely laser-based in-situ element-analyzing capability merged with underwater AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) technologies for sea bed 3D mapping. This will enable resource identification done by robotic control enabled by the synergy between AUV hovering and manipulator capabilities. The underwater robotic laser process is the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), used for identification of materials on the sea bed. The AUV Robotic vehicle will dive, identify the resources that are targeted for LIBS scanning through 3D real time mapping of the terrain (hydro-acoustically, laser scanners, photogrammetry) and position the LIBS in the required locations of mineral deposits on the ocean floor to autonomously perform qualitative and quantitative analyses.

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Demonstration project to prove the techno-economic feasibility of using algae to treat saline wastewater from the food industry.

The aim of the project is to implement and demonstrate at large scale the long-term technological and economic feasibility of an innovative, sustainable and efficient solution for the treatment of high salinity wastewater from the F&D industry.

Conventional wastewater treatments have proven ineffective for this kind of wastewater, as the bacterial processes typically used for the elimination of organic matter and nutrients are inhibited under high salinity contents. Therefore, generally combinations of biological and physicochemical methods are used which greatly increase the costs of the treatment, making it unaffordable for SMEs, who voluntarily decide not to comply with EU directives and discharge without prior treatment, causing severe damage to the environment.

The solution of SALTGAE to this issue consists in the implementation of innovative technologies for each step of the wastewater treatment that will promote energy and resource efficiency, and reduce costs. Amongst these, the use of halotolerant algae/bacteria consortiums in HRAPs for the elimination of organic matter and nutrients stands out for its high added value: not only will it provide an effective and ecological solution for wastewater treatment, but also it will represent an innovative way of producing algal biomass, that will subsequently be valorized into different by-products, reducing the economic and environmental impact of the treatment.

Moreover, the project will also address cross-cutting barriers to innovation related to wastewater by developing a platform for the mobilization and networking of stakeholders from all the different sectors related to wastewater, and for the dissemination of results, enabling the development of a common roadmap for the alignment of legislation, regulation and pricing methodologies and promoting financial investment and paradigm shift in perception from ‘wastewater treatment’ to ‘resource valorisation’.

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RESCCUE – RESilience to cope with Climate Change in Urban arEas – a multisectorial approach focusing on water

RESCCUE aims to deliver a framework enabling city resilience assessment, planning and management by integrating into software tools new knowledge related to the detailed water-centred modelling of strategic urban services performance into a comprehensive resilience platform.

These tools will assess urban resilience from a multisectorial approach, for current and future climate change scenarios and including multiple hazards. The project will review and integrate in the general framework existing options to assess climate change impacts and urban systems vulnerabilities allowing to assess multisectorial dependencies under multiple climate change scenarios. An adaptation strategies portfolio, including climate services, ecosystem-based approaches and resource efficiency measures will be incorporated as key components of the deployment strategy.

The possible approaches will be ranked by their cost-efficiency in terms of CAPEX and OPEX to evaluate their benefits potential. This will enable city managers and urban system operators deciding the optimal investments to cope with future situations. The validation platform is formed by 3 EU cities (Barcelona, Lisboa and Bristol) that will allow testing the innovative tools developed in the project and disseminating their results among other cities belonging to major international networks. In terms of market potential, RESCCUE will generate large potential benefits, in terms of avoided costs during and after emergencies, that will contribute to their large-scale deployment. The structure of the consortium will guarantee the market uptake of the results, as the complete value chain needed is already represented. The project is coordinated by Aquatec, a large consultancy firm part of a multinational company focused on securing and recovering resources, and includes partners from the research domain, operation of critical urban systems, city managers and international organisations devoted to urban resilience.

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Turning waste from steel industry into a valuable low cost feedstock for energy intensive industry

The RESLAG project proposal is aligned with the challenges outlined in the call WASTE-1-2014: Moving towards a circular economy through industrial symbiosis.

In 2010, the European steel industry generated, as waste, about 21.8 Mt of steel slag. The 76 % of the slag was recycled in applications such as aggregates for construction or road materials, but these sectors were unable to absorb the total amount of produced slag. The remaining 24 % was landfilled (2.9 Mt) or self-stored (2.3 Mt). The landfilled slag represents a severe environmental problem.

The main aim of RESLAG is to prove that there are industrial sectors able to make an effective use of the 2.9 Mt/y of landfilled slag, if properly supported by the right technologies. In making this prof, the RESLAG project will also prove that there are other very important environmental benefits coming from an “active” use of the slag in industrial processes, as CO2 saving (up to 970 kt/y from CSP applications, at least 71 kg/ton of produced steel from heat recovery applications), and elimination of negative impacts associated with mining (from the recovery of valuable metals and from the production of ceramic materials).

To achieve this ambitious goal four large-scale demonstrations to recycle steel slag are considered: Extraction of non-ferrous high added metals; TES for heat recovery applications; TES to increase dispatchability of the CSP plant electricity; Production of innovative refractory ceramic compounds.

Overall, the RESLAG project aims at an innovative organizational steel by-products management model able to reach high levels of resource and energy efficiency, which considers a cascade of upgrading processes and a life cycle perspective.

All these demonstrations will be led by the industries involved in the RESLAG consortium. The RESLAG project is supported by the main organizations representing energy-intensive industries, CSP sector, energy platforms, governments, etc.

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Robust Internal Thermal Insulation of Historic Buildings

RIBuild will strengthen the knowledge on how and under what conditions internal thermal insulation is to be implemented in historic buildings, without compromising their architectural and cultural values, with an acceptable safety level against deterioration and collapse of heavy external wall structures.

The general objective of RIBuild is to develop effective, comprehensive decision guidelines to optimise the design and implementation of internal thermal insulation in historic buildings across the EU. RIBuild focuses on heavy external walls made of stone, brick and timber framing, as most historic buildings are made of these materials. The general objective is achieved through three main activities

  • To obtain a thorough knowledge level to characterise the eligibility of the building for a deep internal thermal insulation renovation. This knowledge is obtained through screening of historic buildings, investigation of material properties and threshold values for failure
  • To determine the conditions under which different internal insulation measures are reliable and affordable measures based on probabilistic modelling of the hygrothermal performance, the environmental impact and the cost/benefit
  • To develop a set of comprehensive decision guidelines and a web-based assessment tool, which are demonstrated in a number of buildings. RIBuild addresses the most difficult retrofitting measure of historic buildings: internal thermal insulation. The adaption of knowledge developed by RIBuild contributes to sustainable historic buildings with improved energy efficiency implying an easier conversion of energy supply from inefficient fossil fuels to efficient renewable energy sources. RIBuild also assesses the hygrothermal performance of the building construction, thus no collateral damage occurs; in case of failure an easy roll back of the measures is possible. The guidelines and the web-tool developed in RIBuild strongly support the deep and holistic retrofitting approach which historic buildings face in the coming years.
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Self-Sustaining Cleaning Technology for Safe Water Supply and Management in Rural African Areas

This project focuses on a major challenge in African countries: In the 15 sub-Saharan African countries 108 million people have limited or even no access to clean water.

The SafeWaterAfrica project will research and develop an autonomous and decentralized water treatment system for rural and peri-urban areas which is highly efficient in the degradation of harmful pollutants and at the same time very effective in killing microbiological contaminants. The system will be designed to provide 300 people in rural areas. With a market penetration of 3000 systems the project has the potential to supply 900,000 people within app. four years after the end of the project. The project includes capacity building and business development so that system ownership and responsibility are in the hands of the local rural communities.

The joint European-African development will result in a low-cost solution easy to handle and operate. It will take into account the specific cultural aspects of the region and will be designed for operation with local staff and in the responsibility of local communities or local water service providers, respectively. These “Made in Africa” systems will therefore have a high level of acceptance in the rural areas which promotes the implementation of the technology.

Ten transdisciplinary partners from Europe and Africa, assisted by eight enterprises and organisations in the Advisory Board, will work jointly over a project duration of 42 months to adapt a specific European water treatment technology into an African water treatment system solution. Besides, SafeWaterAfrica will generate the technological basis for innovative business models related to the development of water treatment products, which are produced, installed, operated and maintained in Africa. The resulting creation of new jobs will contribute to the social well-being and will promote economic growth in the rural and peri-urban areas of the southern African countries.

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Smart Toolbox for Engaging Citizens into a People-Centric Observation Web

Whilst citizen participation in environmental policy making is still in its infancy, there are signs of a growing level of interest. The majority of citizens, though, both as individuals and as groups often feel disengaged from influencing environmental policies.

They also remain unaware of publicly available information, such as the GEOSS or Copernicus initiatives. The SCENT project will alleviate this barrier. It will enable citizens to become the ‘eyes’ of the policy makers by monitoring land-cover/use changes in their everyday activities. This is done through a constellation of smart collaborative technologies delivered by the SCENT toolbox in TRLs 6-8: i) low-cost and portable data collection tools, ii) an innovative crowd-sourcing platform, iii) serious gaming applications for a large-scale image collection and semantic annotation, iv) a powerful machine-learning based intelligence engine for image and text classification, v) an authoring tool for an easy customization by policy makers, vi) numerical models for mapping land-cover changes to quantifiable impact on flood risks and vii) a harmonization platform, consolidating data and adding it to GEOSS and national repositories as OGC-based observations.

SCENT will be evaluated in two large scale demonstrations in Kifisos Attica and Danube Delta. Our consortium covers the complete stakeholder chain: industries in machine learning (IBM), SMEs in crowd-sourcing (U-Hopper), gaming (Xteam) and awareness raising (Carr), leading research institutes with expertise in hydrodynamic modelling (UNESCO-IHE), data harmonization and authoring tools (ICCS) and environmental monitoring (DDNI), NGOs at the pilot sites (HRTA, SOR) and policy makers/public bodies (Region of Attica). The SCENT initiative will go beyond the current project and form a European-wide citizen movement, created and fostered by the SCENT stakeholders, that will ensure its sustainability and its complementarity with existing citizen partnerships.

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