"For environmental sustainability and economic benefit for European agriculture."


„In the EU-funded project BioEcoSIM led by Fraunhofer IGB, 15 partners from research and industry developed a technology to convert livestock manure into organic soil improvers and mineral fertilisers. The overall process uses energy-efficient technologies and works on the principle of circular economy. The technology prototype is capable of processing 50 kg of raw manure per hour into fertilizers and organic soil improvers. The products obtained have excellent quality as fertilizers and can then be mixed to match the nutritional requirements of any crop.” – Dr. Jennifer Bilbao, Project Coordinator


Around 1800 million tonnes of manure are produced in Europe every year. In regions with intensive animal husbandry, this could cause environmental, social and economic challenges.

Objectives and Approach

BioEcoSIM comprises R&D and demonstration of an integrated approach and business model that has wide EU27 applicability in the agriculture sector. The new European Bio-economy Strategy aims to increase the use of bio-based raw materials. Thus, large quantities of fertilisers will be required. Therefore, this project targets to produce sustainable soil improving products that can be easily handled, transported, and applied. BioEcoSIM will valorise livestock manure as an important example of valuable bio-waste into 1) pathogen-free, organic soil amendment (biochar), 2) slow releasing mineral fertilisers and 3) reclaimed water. By doing this, we will

  • reduce negative environmental impacts (eutrophication of water bodies, and NH3 and N2O emissions) in intensive livestock regions,
  • help to decrease NH3 produced by the energy-intensive Haber-Bosch process,
  • mitigate EU's dependency on the depleting mineral sources for P-fertilisers,
  • increase water efficiency use in agriculture and
  • support European strategies and directives, while generating economic benefits in the agriculture and bio-economy sector.

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Business model of BioEcoSIM
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The figure summarises the principle of the BioEcoSIM business model and shows the primary exploitation routes anticipated by each individual project partner. A business model will be developed to enable impact within the medium term. It is currently projected that 100 units will have been sold, installed and will be operating within five years of the completion of the BioEcoSIM project. It is projected that each unit will be processing 10,000 m3 of manure annually. Whilst the primary focus of the project work is with pig manure it is anticipated that it will rapidly diversify to enable processing of other livestock manures. It is projected that the system will cost €1.2 million per unit. During the development of the business model, secure and suitable sources of lease (and other) finance will be developed to enable SME farmers to be able to afford the investment. This will result in capital sales of €120 million, 1 million m3 of wasted manure processed per annum to generate over €30 million in P-rich biochar sales, €1.5 million in sales of mineral fertilisers (AS, CP* and struvite-CP) based on current market prices €1.5 million reduction in water abstraction costs and €7 million reduction in manure disposal costs.

* AS = Ammonium Sulphate; CP = Calcium Phosphate

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement n°308637   European Union