Project to produce biogas from effluent wins Brazilian leg of G-BIB | AGÊNCIA FAPESP

Startup will represent Brazil alongside Dutch and German teams at final of Global Biobased Business Competition during Brazilian BioEnergy Science & Technology Conference in October

Project to produce biogas from effluent wins Brazilian leg of G-BIB

August 02, 2017

By Maria Fernanda Ziegler  |  Agência FAPESP – An innovative system that produces biogas, biofertilizer and sulfur from anaerobic fermentation of effluent won the Brazilian semi-final of the Global Biobased Business Competition (G-BIB), held in FAPESP’s auditorium on July 3. G-BIB is a competition to select the best business model for sustainable production of biofuels and other biomaterials, developed by master’s and PhD students in Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil.

SANergya, a startup run by professors and students at the University of Taubaté (UNITAU) in São Paulo State, will now have four months to refine its presentation and business plan for the international final when Brazilian, German and Dutch teams gather on October 17-19 in Campos do Jordão, in the same state, at the Brazilian BioEnergy Science & Technology Conference (BBEST) 2017, an event held by FAPESP’s Bioenergy Research Program (BIOEN). The winning team will receive ten thousand euros in prize money to execute their business project.

According to Ederaldo Godoy Junior, Project SANergya’s mentor, the conventional effluent biodigestion system treats biogas with filters, which eventually become saturated and represent an undesirable environmental liability for companies.

“We’ve developed a business model for an innovative system that also uses bioreactors and bacteria but doesn’t produce environmental liabilities and adds value to the byproducts of biomethanization. Our system treats biogas from effluent and converts hydrogen sulfide, H2S, the corrosive fraction of biogas, into elemental sulfur, which is of great interest to agroindustry,” he told Agência FAPESP.

Godoy Junior added that he will apply for funding for the ecoefficient biomethane production project from FAPESP’s Small Business Innovative Research Program (PIPE). “Having won the local leg of G-BIB, our project will be more visible and should attract investors,” he said.

Innovation in bioeconomy

This is the first edition of G-BIB, which is an initiative of the BioInnovation Growth mega-Cluster (BIG-C), an international public-private consortium of German, Dutch and Belgian leaders in biofuels. BIG-C’s goal is to organize and integrate bioeconomy initiatives in these countries.

In a bioeconomy, production of chemicals, materials and energy derives not from fossil fuels but biobased renewable resources like agricultural waste and nonedible plant materials.

“The importance of this kind of competition is that it stimulates students to think about biobased business models. We have to go even further and think about how and when biobased industrial solutions will build a sustainable society for us all,” said Patricia Osseweijer from Delft University of Technology and BIG-C Netherlands.

The panel of judges told the participants they had highly original business ideas but some proposals were still immature. “In some cases they need to develop their business models much further, especially for the international final,” Osseweijer said.

Eighteen teams participated in the Brazilian leg of the competition. Of these, eight were selected to present at the July 3 semi-final, where UNITAU’s SANergya, comprising Professors Godoy Junior and Arcione Ferreira Viagi alongside mechanical engineering master’s students Fabrico Farinassi and Rafaela Cunha, was judged the winner.

All the semi-finalists had taken a master class in business model development on May 10 using Business Model Canvas, a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool for designing or enhancing business models, assisted by a mentor with experience in creating technology startups.

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