aste disposal from any productive activity often becomes a headache for companies: What to do with them? To eliminate, store or give them away implies a cost in material and human resources, as well as environmental costs.
For years, the Technological Development Unit (UDT) of the Universidad de Concepción has been researching vegetal and animal biomass, their characteristics, properties and relationships with other materials, looking for innovative and sustainable ways to take advantage of all the raw material provided by nature. “This is how we have gained experience, valuing waste that can be inputs of new processes. Bark, sawdust, wood chips, poultry and pork guanos, wheat straw, ashes, sludge, pine cones, among others, are all raw materials to which we have found greater added value” says Carla Pérez, Head of the Environment and Services Department of UDT.
The comparative advantages of UDT when advising companies regarding possible solutions to take advantage of byproducts from their manufactures can also be noted. “We have excellent laboratories and pilot plants, as well as prepared and proactive professionals, engineers and technicians. Our staff has audit training and we have environmental inspectors in water and waste recognized by the Superintendence of the Environment”, she adds.
Characterization, valuation and more
In order to evaluate the possibility of valuing a waste, the first thing is to know its composition. For this, UDT has an Analytical Services Laboratory, accredited as a testing laboratory by the National Standards Institute, INN in Spanish, where these raw materials are characterized. Subsequently, their uses are explored or product prototypes are developed, carrying out technical-economic and environmental feasibility studies, in order to provide a range of possibilities to companies that will be able to choose the best alternative.
The specialist provides an example: “We have numerous successful cases such as the conversion of ashes of biomass and sludge boilers into optimizers from the use of NPK fertilizers, feasible to be applied in agricultural crops. These allow reducing up to 50% the consumption of these fertilizers, achieving the same yields; in addition, they improve the quality of eroded or impoverished soils”.
Alternative technologies that will allow the chemical recycling of plastics, rather than the traditional mechanical recycling, are also being developed.
The offer of services of the Technological Development Unit is extensive and includes Valuation and Characterization of Solid Waste (product development, technology assessment, technical-economic and environmental feasibility studies); Environmental Management (legal compliance audits, environmental indicators, Safety Sheets, training in hazardous substances and waste, design of substance deposits and chemical emergency plans); Environmental Studies (waste and chemical management plans, water and carbon ecological footprint and environmental impact statements); and Environmental Sampling (waste sampling and characterization, characterization of biomass and solid fuels, chemical analysis). It also has authorization as Technical Entity of Environmental Control, ETFA in Spanish.
More information at: www.udt.cl/medio-ambiente-y-servicios/serviciosanaliticos/