1.1-Resilient VEG-i-TEC

Resilient VEG-i-TEC
01 January 2024 → 31 December 2026
European funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Energy in buildings and built environments
    • Renewable power and energy systems engineering
    • Energy storage
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Food sciences and (bio)technology not elsewhere classified
food water energy efficiency water management Battery energy storage systems food processing Valorisation by-products
Project description

As a smart food hub, Resilient VEG-i-TEC aims to be an accelerator to help food companies innovate while achieving their energy- and water-related KPIs and strive for a zero-waste

The Resilient VEG-i-TEC project aims to provide solutions for the many challenges faced by (West) Flemish food companies when pursuing an accelerated energy transition, while also focusing on more sustainable water usage and a more robust water system (cf. Green deal/NECP,...). Four defined themes are targeted for a more resilient, sustainable, and smarter food processing:

  1. Increased energy efficiency: By valorizing the cold and (residual) heat potential from processes that can serve each other (using buffer tanks with different operating temperatures) or for building heating (district heating network).
  2. Increased integration of renewable energy sources: Maximizing the utilization of renewable energy sources (with or without electrical buffering) with minimized impact on process requirements and continuity.
  3. Optimal water management: By limiting water consumption; maximizing sustainable (reuse) and alternative (e.g., rainwater) water sources through the implementation of appropriate infrastructure in the most cost-effective manner.
  4. Smart energy management: Energy management systems (EMS) are a crucial step in enabling advanced energy optimization. What are the opportunities/challenges for enabling smart control (augmented with artificial intelligence (AI) tools and machine learning (ML) techniques) in the Flemish food industry? EMS systems must provide a solution to control and optimize (1), (2), and (3) as a whole.

VEG-i-TEC aims to be a smart food hub accelerator to assist food companies in innovating to achieve their energy- and water-related KPIs, becoming more independent from fluctuating energy and water prices, and keeping raw material shortages and production costs under control (competitive product offering) without compromising the quality/safety of the finished product. Research will investigate how advanced smart energy and water management can lead to optimizations in water, electricity, and heat. Research projects will be set up based on this project and existing infrastructure.

A persistent challenge for companies is the valorization of by-products (water or plant-based) inherently formed during the processing of food products, in an economically and sustainable manner. One of the bottlenecks is the logistics chain, given the perishability (water content) of the generated biomass and by-products. To provide a better response to this, the existing equipment for pre-treatment and the associated analytical equipment will be expanded, including the installation of both on- and offline measuring devices on the current pilot lines for processing plant-based products. Additionally, the pilot lines will be completed and made more flexible so that the process chain from harvested product to packaged product meets the requirements for accurate energy and water measurements. Using this new infrastructure (fixed and mobile), projects will be initiated to support companies in addressing the above challenges.

Role of Ghent University
=> Ghent University is project coordinator => Tasks: project communication; -management; developing part of the investments (from specifications to expenditure) regarding optimal water management and the process chains within VEG-i-TEC (from expansion of unit operations to analysis equipment); VEG-i-TEC is the case for everything related to energy in the project, which is in turn carried out by Howest; co creation.