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Teaser, summary, work performed and final results

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Smartmushroom (Smart MAnagement of spent mushRoom subsTrate to lead the MUSHROOM sector towards a circular economy)


Waste from animal breeding and agriculture, specifically horse and chicken manure and wheat straw, are the raw materials of the growing substrate of mushroom. To grow 1 tonne of mushroom, 3 to 4 tonnes of substrate are needed. However, when mushroom production is completed the...


Waste from animal breeding and agriculture, specifically horse and chicken manure and wheat straw, are the raw materials of the growing substrate of mushroom. To grow 1 tonne of mushroom, 3 to 4 tonnes of substrate are needed. However, when mushroom production is completed the substrate cannot be used for another growing cycle due to the depletion of nutrients needed for mushroom growing and it is called Spent Mushroom Substrate (SMS) and becomes a waste that should be managed according to regulations. In Europe, c.a. 3.65 million tons of SMS are generated
each year. SMS is a high-moisture content bulk material rich in organic matter and nutrients and it could be reused in agriculture by adding it to the soils as amendment or mulch or weathered to be reused as casing soil. However, nitrates directive set a disposal limit that makes that large quantities of SMS cannot be simply spread in soils next to growers’ facilities, as there is a high risk of leachates and water pollution. Due to its low bulk density and high water content, transportation costs are high and therefore storage is becoming a sound problem. SmartMUSHROOM aims to increase mushroom growers’ waste management efficiency by using a new technology which allow them to obtain enough biogas from fresh SMS to dry a mixture of digestate and additional fresh SMS and pelletize it targeting to obtain a marketable high-quality organic fertilizer rich in organic matter and in nutrients, easy to handle, store and transport to any farming region in Europe. A perfect example of biobased circular economy. The aim of the project is to build a pilot plant to demonstrate the technology and find the best commercial formulation for the pellets to enter organic farming market. After the end of project we aim to build at least 18 treatment plants that will place in market 153,000 tonnes of SMS-pellets, generating a total Turnover of 54M€ in the period 2021-2025 and up to 105 related new jobs.

Work performed

Since the Smartmushroom Project started, the consortium partners have been working hard on different tasks related to the project. ASOCHAMP-CTICH has characterized different SMS samples from European mushroom cultivation countries, the legal permits are obtained and we already start with the pilot plant building. NOVIS has designed the biogas pilot plant installation, in a containerized version, which gives us more flexibility to operate; beside from this, several trials have been carried out at Hamm-Lippstadt University of Applied Sciences to measure the total yield biogas production from different European SMS samples and co-substrates. IDECAL partner has developed the dryer design and has conducted trials to optimize the temperatures and drying technology to get an optimum final product for agricultural use. In addition ECOSOIL has started different tests and trials with the SMS based pellets in crop cultivation (landfill and greenhouses) getting very good preliminary results, such as earlier production and higher best quality percentage versus traditional management in peppers, cucumber and tomatoes, which is so motivational in order to continue with the trials and the organic fertilizer improvement in cooperation with farmers.
The consortium has presented the project at Mushroom Days 2019 in Netherlands, where the partners explained to the mushroom sector the project. Companies from different areas (Australia, Armenia, India, Canada and European countries) showed its interest about the project. Contacts are made and we will organize commercial visits to the pilot plant when it is working.
Specific webpage and social media is available for the project, where all the interested persons and companies can learn more about the project, being informed about the project progressions and share with us their opinions and interest through a quiz or email contact.

Final results

During the project we develop and build a SMS-ADryer pilot plant of 100 – 150kW power output.
Later on we design the plant on industrial scale, which shall enable converting 36,000 tonnes of fresh SMS material annually that currently generates loses (€6-10/Tn) into 8,500 tonnes of organic fertilizer pellets (90-120€/tn market value). SMS will be first digested thanks to a two-stage anaerobic digestion process using a new methanogenic consortia targeted to hardly-to-digest materials. The biogas produced provides thermal power to an innovative water removal system based on a hybrid drying process that combines condensation and adsorption through sepiolite filters to accelerate the process and reduce costs. As a result, the SMS will reach 28% humidity and the resultant Dry Substance (DS) will be then enriched by natural NPK fertilizer, tailored to the specific needs of organic fertilizer purchased, and pelletized. As a result, farmers using SMS-ADryer will achieve reduction in storage and transportation costs, enabling to sell to any region in Europe a new product which is organic and adapted to conventional broadcast spreaders.
SMARTmushroom enables the creation of a new sustainable value management chain, from processing to transport and application, which involves both livestock farming sector and mushroom growing sector, which goes beyond reduction and recycling. Mushroom production follows a linear economy model which is unsustainable. SMARTmushroom will introduce circular economy by upscaling SMS waste to a very valuable organic fertilizer. The EU industry will gain an innovative solution to an unsolved global problem which will strengthen its competitiveness. In fact, 67% of mushrooms are produces in Asia, where the consumption is the highest. SMARTmushroom will not only allow for exporting our technology there, but will also open the market for our domestic producers thanks to lower production cost. The society will benefit from this nutrient-rich product at
lower prices and the impact of mushroom production on the environment will be lower: SMS will be upcycled to an organic fertilizer in a carbon neutral process where no harmful compounds such as nitrates are released to the environment. The organic fertilizer will improve crop yield by at least 12% and due to its low humidity content (28%), it will be carbon efficient to transport it.

Website & more info

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