Partner Q&A with Jorge Arnal Mañas

1.Tell us about CIRCE. What is your core business and role within the project?

CIRCE is a research centre founded in 1993 to create and develop innovative solutions and scientific/technical knowledge and transfer them to the business sector in the field of energy. CIRCE’s mission is to drive forward improvements in energy efficiency and to spread the use of renewable energy by means of the development of R+D+i (Research, Development and Innovation) activities and formative actions that respond to the needs of national and international producers, thereby contributing to sustainable development.

In ECOFACT project, our role is mainly focused on developing a module for the calculation of dynamic Life Cycle Cost Assessments, as well a module able to support the decision making in order for the demo sites to be able to consider the best operation modes based on the LCA and LCCA results. Furthermore, we are in charge of the training activities and we will support the implementation of the ECOFACT platform into the different demo cases.

2.Why did your organisation get involved in the ECOFACT project? How does this activity fit with the normal business of your organisation?

Since the foundation’s origin in 1993, CIRCE has played a very participatory role in the development of European R&D projects and, in this case, the ECOFACT project is fully aligned with our lines of activity. At CIRCE, we actively work on digitalizing and monitoring industrial processes to optimize the energy consumption in a wide range of sectors, as well as reducing environmental impacts through the LCA methodology, so this project will allow us to unify both fields to increase the value that we will then transfer to companies to align their way of producing towards a more sustainable model.

3.How will the outputs of the ECOFACT project help production system energy performance?

Acquiring a deeper knowledge about how and where the energy and the resources are consumed in any of the stages of a manufacturing process is a key path to optimize the process consumptions and reduce the waste flows generated throughout the manufacturing chain. In this sense, ECOFACT project proposes the development of an innovative energy management system, which will produce a significant reduction in the operating costs for the companies, as well as a reduction in the environmental impact of the products produced, thus achieving a benefit both for the organization itself, and for society.

4.What are the technical challenges your work in ECOFACT is trying to overcome?

Environmental and economic assessments are widely used to optimize industrial processes performance and to guide companies towards a more sustainability and responsible manufacturing model. However, these analyses are normally carried out by using statistical past consumption data, which used to be out of date and do not reflect how impacts vary over a period of time or with a change in operating conditions. These issues will be addressed with the ECOFACT project, which aims at developing an eco-innovative tool based on the results obtained from real-time measurements. In this regard, CIRCE participates in the development of dynamic LCA and LCCA models to address and optimize the operating mode of different industrial processes, taking into account its energy consumption and their environmental and economic performance, and with the aim of implementing a life cycle thinking perspective alongside the whole value chain.

5.What positive impacts will the projects have when complete?

Among the different impacts that the project will achieve, we hope to reduce the energy consumption of the selected production processes, improve their monitoring models and create a platform capable of being integrated with other energy optimization tools. In addition, the energy optimization is not the only final objective of the project, but it also seeks to improve the environmental performance of the manufactured products. To do this, the project will carry out an overall energy and environmental analysis of the entire value chains in order to provide recommendations focused on increasing the sustainability of the products, even after project completion.

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THIS PROJECT HAS RECEIVED FUNDING FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION’S HORIZON 2020 RESEARCH AND INNOVATION PROGRAMME UNDER GRANT AGREEMENT NO 958373