150 Million tons of petrochemical plastics are produced yearly from crude oil [1.1]. About 9% of these is recycled, 12% is incinerated (leading to toxic emissions of gases and ashes), and 79% is sent to a landfill, where plastics needs 50 and more years to decompose with number of intermediate compounds polluting the environment [1.2]. Replacement of petrochemical plastics can be done with biopolymers, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), with additional advantage of being easily biodegradable.

Unfortunately, an online system for continuous monitoring of VFA does not exist, what makes controlling biopolymer production from waste streams problematic.

In this project, we want to validate an innovative idea and produce the first in the world online system for real-time VFA analysis, which will solve operational problems of biopolymer-producing systems. Our idea is based on application of a known technique, which thanks to recent technological developments seems to be feasible for this purpose as indicated by preliminary tests.

Facts highlights

An optical method to detect specific compounds in a liquid medium is improved such that it is:

  • Much lower cost than an analytical unit
  • Fast analysis
  • Option to detect other substances as described in the proposal, making it more universal applicable

The system has been successfully tested and proved functional on laboratory scale, and partially successful on real life applications. This project has brought the company Appsen a tremendous step forward to market, and our other consortium member a step further towards easier operation of a VFA reactor for bioplastics.
The factsheet can be downloaded here.



Smart VFA
Oostergoweg 9,
8911 MA Leeuwarden,
The Netherlands

T: +31 (0)58 284 3198