Do you want to meet the faces of CEOMED? Part 5: the Centre of Biotechnology of Sfax, Tunisia


Dr Sami Sayadi worked for more than 30 years on the implementation of environmental and industrial bioprocesses with regards to food and water security, bioremediation and bioenergy. Dr. Sayadi was appointed as a General Director of CBS from 2010 to 2018. He was, also, a co-director of the French Tunisian International Laboratory LMI Cosys-Med and coordinator of the "Pôle d'Excellence Régional AUF" on environmental and industrial bioprocesses. Dr. Sayadi has successfully led several international projects under EU-FP5, FP6, FP7, H2020 and USAID PEER. He worked as an expert with ICS-UNIDO and EU (PASRI) in the field of environmental biotechnology, waste recovery, biomass, biofuels and biopolymers, and he has published more than 350 articles in peer-reviewed international journals. Having this extensive experience, he is coordinating the pilot actions of CEOMED. Do you want to know him?

The Center of Biotechnology of Sfax is leading one of the two pilot demonstrations of CEOMED. The strength of this project is to develop two fully operational pilot plants in two local open markets in the Mediterranean Basin. Which is the primary function of the pilot in Sfax?

Sfax is the second-largest city in Tunisia with more than one million inhabitants. It is located in the South of Tunisia, a region characterized by essential and diverse industrial activities, water scarcity and poor soil availability. The wholesale market of Sfax generates significant quantities of fruit and vegetable wastes which are brought down in the landfill of Agareb (30 Km from the market) contributing to significant environmental pollution and the production of greenhouse gases. The implementation of a pre-industrial facility for the bioconversion of the wholesale market waste into bioenergy, using a circular economy approach and generating a digestate usable as fertilizer for fields 'olive tree of Sfax (Sidi Abid, very close to the market) is the first one in Sfax, but also in Tunisia. This project can be used in other regions, as well.

Dr. Sayadi, during the last decade, Tunisia has been growing the techno-economic field in leaps and bounds. Do you think that CEOMED will be part of this progress?

Techno-economic projects have recently shown significant development. However, this CEOMED project which focuses particularly on the production of biogas from wholesale market waste will serve the community and strengthen this field in the medium and long term, while ensuring the aspirations of sustainable development. This project will contribute to the establishment of a high-profile research group at the Biotechnology Center of Sfax and the University of Sfax, with members from different disciplines (Biotechnology, Process, Agronomic, Mechanic, etc.). Moreover, the project will be of great importance for young researchers (PhD candidates and Post-Docs) who will be trained on the pilot installation and operation.

The techno-economic framework is essential, of course. But improvements in Society are crucial. In your opinion, how could the pilot help in the wellbeing of the citizens?

The CEOMED project aims at treating organic waste generated from the markets. If not adequately managed, those wastes can potentially become a severe environmental problem due to their rapid fermentation and production of bad smells and leachates. The transport and disposal of the market wastes to landfill entails, also, several problems and implications to the community and the environment. The COMED project will prevent the creation of these problems by treating on-site daily organic waste produced in the market. The market community (farmers, agriculturists, sellers, consumers, municipality personnel, etc.) will appreciate the production of bioenergy and the conversion of wastes to fertilizer.

What are the next steps in CEOMED regarding your activities?

The next steps will be dedicated to preparing the tenders for all plant components, purchase the necessary equipment, start the operation of the plant and evaluate the overall process.