Eco-Design At Early Process Development Stages: Lessons Learned From The Study Of Collagen Extracted From Tilapia Skin

Main Presenter: Maria Cléa Brito de Figueirêdo 

Co-Authors: Johnny David Gomes de Queiroz

Assessing environmental impacts of processes at early technology maturity levels is rare and challenging (Moni et al, 2019). However, which activities research teams can perform to assess environmental impacts and improve process performance at early development stages? To answer this question, in this study we investigated changes occurring in environmental aspects and impacts in a process that extracts collagen from tilapia skin, when moving production from lab to pilot scale.
We collected data from the collagen extraction process at laboratory and pilot scale, related to the extraction of 1 kg of collagen and applied life cycle assessment (ABNT, 2014). The software SuperPro Design was used to model the production of collagen at the pilot scale, while the software Simapro was applied to assess the environmental impacts.
The comparison of the collagen extraction inventories at lab and pilot scales showed a reduction in the use of water (49%), energy (30%) and most of the chemicals. These reductions at pilot scale were mostly due to improvement in equipment efficiency regarding energy use, to better accountancy of water use, and to changes in some processes stages.
Regarding collagen environmental impacts, the comparison of results from lab and pilot production scales showed an average reduction of 68% with upscaling. In both production scales, the extraction process contributed most to the total impacts in most of the analyzed categories. However, with the reduction of impacts from collagen extraction, tilapia aquiculture increased its contribution to total impacts.
Analyzing which production stages most contributed to environmental impacts in collagen extraction, we also noticed differences at lab and pilot scales. At lab scale, energy use and effluent treatment most contributed to impacts in collagen extraction, while at pilot scale, water use and solid waste disposal were more relevant.
This study showed the great importance of collecting reliable inventory data of new processes at lab scale for building a pilot production model that resembles the relations between the amounts of raw material, chemicals and final product. It also showed the importance of performing the environmental impact assessment using mass and energy balances from pilot scale production when the aim is to identify critical stages in the new process under development. Finally, it revealed the importance of considering aquaculture production in product life cycle assessment, regardless of the raw material being a co-product or residue, since impacts from new processes and bio-based products reduce with upscaling and technology maturity.

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