Revoc4life and air quality in the Covid 19 era

BCN Concerie, with the Consorzio Aquarno, is within a well-established circularity system: the District of Santa Croce sull’Arno. All the environmental impacts of the tannery are already mitigated through consolidated activities within the district system, except for VOC emissions into the atmosphere which are, however, subject to monitoring by the Tuscany Region.

The VOC emissions of the tanning industry are mainly attributable to the finishing processes of the leathers using paints containing these components as solvents.
Obviously, all industries that use paints in their processes have to face the same problem.

For this reason, the Revoc4LIFE project will lead to an adaptation of the existing plant, aimed at improving the quality of the air in the Tuscan Tanning District, which can also be exported to other industrial realities.

BCN Concerie has decided to intervene on VOC emissions, since it is the only impact where decisive action has not yet been taken.
Through the observation and considerations relating to the VOC abatement system, the company sought feedback from the regulatory framework of emissions (national and regional laws and the air quality plan of the Tuscany Region) in order to evaluate which and how many interventions should be.

During this period of analysis, the health emergency linked to the COVID-19 epidemic occurred which produced many studies on the impact of air quality in correlation with the spread of the infection.
These studies suggest a correlation between air quality and the faster spread of the virus, so it has become urgent to start the project so as to provide a concrete contribution to safeguarding everyone’s health, despite the fact that the emission levels have always been controlled by the designated institution.

The group, made up by five private companies and the University of Pisa (UNIPI), formed with the clear commitment to identify an effective solution to the issue of VOC emissions, has decided to present the project on the LIFE since this represents the main financial instrument of the Union European Union dedicated to supporting environmental protection in the territories of the Member States.
Having received the approval, the partnership, based on an existing and functioning pilot prototype, designed by the same, began to work on the design and construction of the VOC abatement plant on industrial scale.
This plant will reduce the amount of fine particles and VOCs in the atmosphere by partially recycling the latter in the tanning process in a virtuous circuit that is in line with the BCN Concerie’s vocation for a circular economy. In fact, downstream of a VOC abatement section, their partial recovery and use in the tannery as solvents for operations such as cleaning machinery is envisaged.

In particular, in the first phase of the project in which we are now, UNIPI made its plant and process knowledge/skills available to the company partners, providing a valuable contribution during the design phases of the individual subsystems of the plant industrial. Based on the experimental results obtained in its laboratories, UNIPI was able to provide the necessary tools for the evaluation and validation of the performance of the various processes taken into consideration.

The other partners, Sime, Compolab and Iris, shared their project execution knowledge, completing the engineering design up to the construction level, executing the needed material selection and specifying the proper commercial components to build up the demonstration plant.

The active support of the Aquarno Consortium was decisive in completing the design of the plant and in promoting the sintered granulate, towards its use as a regenerable sorbent, with a concrete ambition of arriving at an “end of waste” product ”.