What is the chain’s environmental impact?
26 May 2016 - TiFN has developed a simulation model in the ‘Valorisation of Raw Materials and Process Efficiency’ project which gives a verdict on the environmental impact of a process, product or chain based on exergy. Exergy is a measure of the total consumption of energy, raw materials, water, chemicals and by-products. The less exergy that is lost, the greater the raw material efficiency and thus the lower the environmental impact.
The complete production chain is represented in the TEM model (TiFN Exergy and Multicriteria Decision-Making Model) and allows scenarios to be extrapolated. What would happen if different raw materials were used? What would be the environmental impact of a new step in the process? What would be the effect of processing the residue flows (differently)? What would happen if distribution were organised differently? The model also illustrates the financial effects and the consequences in terms of production quality. By this means, companies can make fast, straightforward assessments of the investments that might be of interest to them. The project has analysed production chains in collaboration with the business community, focussing in particular on chip production, the bread chain, the mushroom chain and the vegetables chain. In the latter case, a comparison was made between seasonal, imported and deep-frozen vegetables.
C4C: “Simply mapping this out has proved a learning curve in itself”
Caroline van der Horst, R&D manager at the substrate producer for the mushroom growers C4C, has also tested the TEM Model: “Continued efforts for increasing sustainability are unavoidable. The processing of residue flows is a key business for us. A model that’s able to help us further optimise that business is always welcome. ‘Playing’ with the model is even more educational. All at once you can investigate options that you’d never get to test in practice because they’d have too great an impact on production.”