Meet the faces of CEOMED project? Part 1: The University of Naples Federico II


In the framework of CEOMED project, the anaerobic digestion optimisation of two pilot plants for the treatment of organic waste will be key to reach the project goals. Stefano Papirio, from the University of Naples Federico II, leads the actions in this field. Dr. Papirio won the Italian Award for the best doctoral thesis in the Sanitary and Environmental Engineering disciplines and his expertise count with three stays abroad and the co-authority of 50 publications. Would you like to know his opinion?

Dr Papirio, your department at the University of Naples investigated the Anaerobic Digestion innovations in several studies. What do you think is the improvement of the use of Anaerobic digestion in the framework of CEOMED project?

The use of anaerobic digestion (AD) in CEOMED is of crucial importance, as AD is the key process around which all the future circular bioeconomy platforms will be implemented. AD gives value to the waste treated in the form of biogas (which means “clean bioenergy”) and digestate, which is a matrix highly rich in nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to be recovered as fertiliser or as a new organic feedstock for energy production (for instance, through pyrolysis or gasification). CEOMED will help to raise awareness of citizens around the new “idea of waste”, meant as a resource to be exploited rather than a by-product to be disposed. Hopefully, this will have an impact on policymakers and stakeholders to speed up the establishment of such virtuous waste management practices.

How do you think that CEOMED could improve the field of Anaerobic digestion? Could the project provide definitive evidence of the efficiency of the technique at a large scale?

Specifically speaking about the CEOMED goals, the current knowledge about AD will be extremely useful for the start-up and steady-state operation of the pilot-scale reactors to be built in Jordan ad Tunisia. However, a further step forward has to be done in order to promote innovative technologies to enhance the yields and rate of the AD process. That is why three partners involved in CEOMED will investigate the use of modern bioreactor configurations to operate the AD of fruit and vegetable waste for a possible, future real-scale implementation.

What is the more difficult barrier to overcome in this field?

I clearly see two main barriers. First, as said before, the awareness of people is a fundamental aspect. People are usually recalcitrant towards a change but have to be aware that linear management of products and waste is not any longer a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach. Secondly, another limitation is the resource allocation by the public governments. In order to promote the diffusion of efficient waste treatment technologies, important investments in this context are required to build new plants, which will be capable of self-sustaining and provide new opportunities for the economic growth of Mediterranean countries.

In your expert opinion, this way to use the technology is the definitive solution to the current problem situation in terms of valorisation of residues and obtention of energy?

Of course not. AD is simply a link of a more complicated chain. In our modern society, an effective solution for proper management of solid waste and the sustainable production of renewable energy is an “integrated scheme”, which consists of different technologies and treatment steps linked together to reduce the amount of resides to be landfilled and maximise the production of energy and reusable materials at each step.

Learn more about CEOMED project.