Capture: Centre for Advanced Process Technology for Urban REsource recovery

Traditionally, research efforts focus on partitioning research challenges in separate issues. Although this strategy results in a high degree of expertise and a narrowing down of specialized problems, it also partitions a complex problem into separate questions and solutions. However, “real world” challenges demand solutions to complex problems. Therefore, an INTEGRATED research effort is needed, to CAPTURE the problem (Figure 1). Doing so, scientific competences need to be shared as excellent expertise needs to deliver adequate solutions for complex problems. The mission of CAPTURE is to integrate research efforts into research trains around specific issues involving researchers from different disciplines (membrane technology, microbial technology, electrochemistry, chemical technology, material technology, modeling, analytical chemistry) and confront these with industrial or political demands that need to be tackled in the area of Resource Recovery. Eventually, an open market place for research is created where urban resource recovery demands will be addressed by integrated research efforts.

Figure 1: integration of research expertise to CAPTURE the problem.

In an economy that evolves towards sustainability and self-reliance, it is increasingly important to account for side- and wastestreams initiated through urbanized (municipal and industrial) activity. Examples of such streams are CO2 rich flue gases, salty wastewaters, used polymers and metal containing ashes. To date these streams are a burden, not just from an environmental point of view but also in economic terms, thus labelled as waste streams. These are treated and discharged at a cost or even discharged or dumped untreated. However, waste streams often contain a vast potential of compounds to produce chemicals, to regain energy or for partial or complete recycle usage. Therefore, a shift in mindset as well as the use of adequate and feasible technology will turn waste into a resource opportunity. This concept could lead to a circular economy for at least Western-Europe and perhaps reaching out to other continents as well. In this context, it is important to develop and apply novel processes that start from urban resources (“waste”) and drive a sustainable economy independent of subsidy mechanisms. To achieve the goals of creating solutions for urban resource recovery demands, the concept of research trains or pipelines has been defined. These research trains typically contain a sequence of technological research challenges in the area of purification, production, separation and downstream processing. CAPTURE intends to integrate research areas, as research trains, to meet the demands of the urbanized world by capturing its resources (Figure 2).

Figure 2: interaction of resources, a research train and resource demand in an urbanized world.

Key resources have been defined and will be the focal themes for the years to come:

  • CO² to product
  • Water
  • Metals
  • Plastics and polymers

In the development of these innovative technologies it is important to keep a close link with industry. For this purpose, an industrial platform was initiated called R²T (Resource Recovery&Technology). More information can be found on www.r2t.ugent.be