Innovative technology to reduce nitrogen emission
Since the beginning of 2020, TU Delft spin-off MEZT, research partner Wageningen University & Research and industrial partners have joined hands in innovative membrane electrodialysis technology. Parties wanted to find out whether the technology can also be used to reduce nitrogen emissions in livestock farming, in addition to municipal and industrial waste water treatment. This could be the revolutionary and structural contribution to alleviate the nitrogen crisis in NL.
The TTT Circular Technology program provided Mezt with a Proof of Concept ticket. After realizing 99% nitrogen extraction from waste water, tests have recently confirmed the breakthrough character of the MEZT technology for animal residues: high ammonium nitrogen extraction with low energy consumption and low carbon footprint, without chemicals and without unwanted residual products.
The technique is scalable for large waste water treatment installations as well as manure processing in a decentralized way for individual livestock farmers. This makes local cycles and precision agricultural business models possible in agriculture, with which every livestock farmer can tailor ’biobased’ manure for every crop, soil and season. The nutrients nitrogen, phosphate and potassium can each be separately extracted from the manure and stored, used or sold in various forms. Manure removal and purchase of fossil fertilizers are greatly reduced and on-line real-time manure accounting can be maintained.
This way of working gives substance to our Ministry of Agri-culture vision 2030 and EU 2050 circularity visions with the ambition to improve the environment, animal welfare and the new revenue model for the livestock farmer. One of the options, for example, is to use a fuel cell for the supply of green electricity, so that the entire installation can operate in an energy-neutral manner.
MEZT is currently building a set of modular prototypes to demonstrate the technology to innovating water authorities and livestock farmers. The first commercial product line is expected in 2021. This next phase is supported by Rabobank Innovation Fund and RVO MIT R&D subsidy. The promising developments led to MEZT winning the High Holland Tech HiTMaT 2020 competition, as well as the Accenture Blue Tulip Award.
CEO Adriaan Lieftinck: “This TTT has greatly accelerated our mission. In just six months’ time, we were able to complete the business case and prove our technology. The two renowned knowledge institutions behind this TTT are entirely complementary. They have the means to support these steps in a simultaneous and professional manner. Without them, it would have been a lot harder for MEZT to come so far so soon.”
“We used the two vouchers we received to develop our proof of concept and that business case. For the PoC, we collaborated with a working student from Delft University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research, and the company Lenntch, which operates in the global water treatment field. We carefully considered the value proposition for livestock farmers and manure processors. It turned out that we could offer them excellent solutions.”
“This TTT has brought our technology and business together closer and faster and it has paved the way towards other subsidies, e.g. for the development of a prototype.”