Together, we aim for 100% recycling

Case study: Accelerate & Collaborate

Saxion and Twence have been working together more intensively since 2022 to extract more value from biogenic waste streams. To this end, they drew up a knowledge and innovation agenda. As a basis, they used five of the UN's sustainable development goals.


We need to find a new balance and accelerate the transition to sustainable energy and raw materials, otherwise we will destroy our earth and make it impossible for ourselves," argues Richard van Leeuwen of Saxion. Together with colleagues, students and regional partners, the Sustainable Energy Systems lecturer conducts research on energy transition and renewable resources. Putting Saxion's expertise alongside Twence's development goals created the joint knowledge and innovation agenda. "At Twence, we are constantly looking for opportunities to optimise and innovate to increase our contribution to sustainability," innovation manager Leendert Tamboer says. "Together with Saxion, we are looking at process improvements in our facilities and opportunities for new concepts."

Optimising fermentation and gas production
As an example of optimisation, Tamboer mentions the fermentation of vegetable, fruit and garden waste. "We want to better understand what is happening in our digester. For example, why certain fats are not converted into biogas." At Saxion's laboratory, they can mimic fermentation. Van Leeuwen adds: "To better understand the conversion of organic matter, we can also use artificial intelligence. In doing so, you let computers calculate and predict based on data. This allows you to better assess the consequence of a disturbance, such as changes in fat- or cellulose-containing substances in the GFT, in order to better control the process conditions and the quality of the biogas."

Developing new products
Saxion and Twence hope that more companies and knowledge partners will join the knowledge and innovation agenda. "If we want to stop using fossil fuels, we need to get much more energy and raw materials from residual streams. That requires innovation throughout the chain." As an example, Tamboer mentions plastic production. "At Twence, we make bio-oil from wood, which contains oxygen. Plastics production is set up using petroleum, which contains no oxygen. Perhaps with the oil from residues, you should actually develop other plastics." Van Leeuwen does see opportunities here: "This is the kind of idea we can come up with, together with students and parties in the chain. Ultimately, we want to move towards a bio-based economy where real waste does not exist and we convert everything into renewable energy or circular raw materials."