The DIGESTAIR project addresses the topic JTI-CS2-2018-CFP08-AIR-03-04 within The Clean Sky 2 programme and it can contribute to the Eco-design Transverse Activity in Airframe ITD.
According to the International Air Transport Association, airlines produced 5.2 million tons of waste last year. Recent data from Eurostat revealed that up to 36% of the air passenger transport in Europe has extra EU destinations producing Category 1 ICW. The proportion of food waste and plastic packaging generated on board can account for up to 20% of the total amount of waste. Although some airlines are implementing standards to control and eventually reduce their environmental impact, new initiatives for a better waste management need to be committed.
The DIGESTAIR approach seeks to promote a technological solution to improve waste management on board by taking advantage of the well-known anaerobic digestion (AD) process. However, the application of AD technology in an aircraft environment requires research and innovation efforts since no attempts are documented up-to-date in the aviation sector.
The DIGESTAIR project involves a methodology that will ensure the accomplishment of the specific objectives based on prior experiences by considering the technical, security and hygiene requirements for an aircraft environment. A flexible and adaptable anaerobic digestion prototype with two different configurations will be manufactured:
- two stage anaerobic process, and
- an alternative with membrane filtration unit in order to minimize size and weight and maximize the energy production.
The prototype will be eco-designed, light, safe, and cost-efficient in terms of energy recovery and ICW treatment efficiency. Apart from the prototype, a simulation tool will be developed, which will help to boost prototype design and will be a valuable tool for future analysis of different scenarios and upscaling.