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Detricon

An SME based in Ypres figures out a solution for pig farmers and biogas installations

“Transforming pig manure into green fertiliser”
Denis De Wilde from Detricon, co-owner

The transformation of manure into a more valuable, environmentally-friendly fertiliser. That is – in a nutshell – the recipe for success at Detricon, a young SME based in Ypres. “Our technology allows pig farmers and biogas installations to lower the cost of processing manure considerably.”

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The price of pork is currently at rock bottom and the price at which electricity is sold has never been so low. Pig farmers and those operating biogas installations are therefore watching their pennies. And that is exactly where Detricon comes in. Denis De Wilde from Detricon: “We have designed some technology which keeps down the cost of processing manure or digestate (note from the editor: fermented manure, a leftover product from the production of biogas). The fact that the market was so desperate for our product is clear whenever we are in contact with pig farmers and those operating biogas installations.”

Forty times as much nitrogen

Detricon has developed an installation to recover the nitrogen present in manure and digestate, and turn it into pure ammonium, as a high-quality manure for immediate use by farmers. The transformation of waste into a premium product of economic value - that’s what the circular economy is all about. Denis De Wilde: “By converting an organic waste flow into a pure product, we create significant added economic value. Our final product is as good as artificial fertiliser. In comparison: there are 3 to 4 kilos of nitrogen in every tonne of digestate and at least 180 kilos in our product, which is an amazing forty times more.”

Less energy

Detricon’s fertiliser is also considerably more energy efficient than artificial fertiliser. Denis De Wilde: “It takes large amounts of fossil fuels to produce artificial fertiliser. For each kilo of nitrogen that we recover, we use just half of the energy required for the production of the chemical alternative.”

Local processing of manure

Historically, Flanders has always produced large quantities of manure. Starting in the seventies, the region had to cope with a surplus of manure and this trend continued until 2000. Since 2007, equilibrium has been achieved in the Flemish manure supply: farmers now produce as much manure as can be used up, processed or exported. At the same time, Flanders imports an annual total of 72 million kilos of nitrate for use as fertiliser.

Denis De Wilde: “The import or export of manure puts pressure on the environment: lorries are often required to travel thousands of kilometres to take it where it is needed. It is a much better alternative to process any surplus of manure locally.”

Maintaining resources

Detricon’s technology not only facilitates the production of a product that is of economical interest, the innovation also returns valuable resources to the circuit. “Each year in Flanders, 9.2 kilos of nitrate are turned into nitrogen gas in biogas installations. In fact, that is a destruction of resources,” explains Denis De Wilde. “We transform the nitrate in biomass into a valuable resource that farmers are delighted with.”

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