RETROFEED IN THE EUROPEAN CONTEXT: A TRANSFORMATIVE JOURNEY
After a challenging and rewarding four-year journey, the RETROFEED project hosted its final event in Brussels, Belgium, and online, on the 25th of October.
The event was geared towards showcasing its final remarkable results and discussing future possibilities for their uptake by other companies, market players, and legislators.
Thus, the event brought around 40 experts, stakeholders, and innovators together to discuss and celebrate the project’s transformative contributions.
This project, financed by Horizon Europe, sets important standards in Europe’s journey toward the decarbonization of heavy industry.
In this context, Lucia Fernandez Marcia, representing the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA), highlighted, with a keynote speech, the project’s significance in the context of European industry and sustainability, and for the success of SPIRE Partnerships (Sustainable Process Industry through Resource and Energy Efficiency), as it contributes to driving forward long-term systemic changes required to create a cleaner, greener, fairer society.
Looking at the ongoing programming period, Ms. Fernandez Marcia focused the attention on the new calls for the Processes4Planet partnership with a deadline of 7 February 2024.
ENGAGING THE FIVE DEMOSITES INTO A TRANSVERSAL DISCUSSION
Ludo Diels, an Advisory Board Member of A.SPIRE, moderated the session around the sector insights and challenges from the demo-sites in the sectors of ceramics, cement, aluminum, steel, and the agrochemical sector, focusing on what they can learn from their trials and each other.
The second roundtable discussion, moderated by EEIP President Rod Janseen, explored the digitalization efforts aimed at enhancing competitiveness in European resource-intensive industries, and the market potential for the RETROFEED solution (see below).
Following this, participants engaged in a quiz play session hosted by EEIP, adding an element of fun to the event and had the chance to win a solar-powered charger and a charger with a tea-cup warmer embedded.
A PATHWAY TOWARDS COMMERCIALIZATION OF SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS
The RETROFEED project has yielded results with versatile applications that extend far beyond its original scope. These outcomes are not confined to a single company but can seamlessly integrate into various aspects of industrial operations. Within the same company, the solutions of RETROFEED can apply across multiple fronts, affecting furnaces, kilns, electric arc furnaces (EAFs), burners, and more, all housed within the same facilities or operating under the same corporate umbrella.
Furthermore, the reach of these advancements can be potentially replicated in other projects and industrial sectors. For instance, CIRCE’s Visual Camera for monitoring raw material melting rates inside the furnace, utilized in TORRECID, brings a new level of precision and insight to the steel and agrochemical sectors, bolstering their competitive edge.
From a horizontal perspective, another key solution that can be easily replicated in similar sectors is the Digital Information System developed by OPTIT SRL, which supports business or organizational decision-making activities in complex processes leveraging data and algorithms.
“Embracing a Decision Support System is not just an option; it’s the key to unlock data-driven insights, streamline processes, and ensure your business remains competitive in the market,” presented Luca Ferrari from OPTIT SRL.
It is remarkable to highlight that some of these solutions have already reached TRL9 because of the relevant expertise of the industrial and engineering companies in the consortium, and a higher TRL upscaling and industrial-grade level is expected within 6-12 months after project closure.
Some key takeaways from yesterday’s final event:
Looking ahead and after the lifespan of the project, partners agreed that it is key to:
• Keep the dialogue ongoing with other energy-intensive industries,
• Combine different challenges across different sectors and subsectors, such as hydrogen production in an integrated way;
Embrace DSS systems to unlock data-driven insights, streamline processes, and make them more efficient. From the beginning of the project, it is was evident how complex companies’ structures are and how difficult is to collect the data needed from the different database. We need to do much more on data planning on the backend.
• Engage all stakeholders in the value chain and nurture the companies’ mindset to continue reducing CO2 emissions;
• Seek support from regulators to harmonise legislations across countries and engage consumers to see the added value of less polluting products on the market.
To sum up, the RETROFEED project’s special event in Brussels provided a comprehensive overview of the significant achievements and ongoing challenges in the journey towards decarbonization and digitalization in European resource-intensive industries.
Beyond the collaboration, partners are committed to work further and accelerate the uptake of the technological and digital solutions. Each demo-site has very clear objectives and a clear set of actions they have to implement to achieve even more energy efficiency improvements.