Soil pollution constitutes one of the main threats to the health of soil ecosystems in Europe, in terms of complexity, toxicity and recalcitrance. There are about 2.8 million sites potentially contaminated, with 650,000 of them being identified as requiring remediation; among them, only 15% have been already treated [Status of local soil contamination in Europe: Revision of the indicator “Progress in the management Contaminated Sites in Europe” (No. JRC107508), 2018]. Recent estimates found that mineral oil and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), also commonly referred to as total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs), amount to an estimated mean value of 35% of all contaminants present in European soil. This percentage increase to 50% if BTEX compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) are included.
Soil remediation technologies currently available on the market to tackle organic soil contaminations varies between EU countries but mainly consist of landfilling (30% average), physicochemical treatments (i.e. thermal desorption (TD)) (50% average), and conventional bioremediation (5-40%). The first two solutions constitute costly and energy-intensive approaches. Landfilling, in fact, should not be considered as a treatment technology, as only consists in displacing untreated polluted soil to confinement. Thermal treatment, although it has the clear advantage of being a short time process, is highly energy consuming in all the stages leading to average greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of up to 70 kg CO2-eq/m3 soil treated (J. Clean. Prod. 186:514). Moreover, it results in the generation of a “dead” – albeit cleaner- soil.
Conversely, bioremediation can be performed on-site on excavated soil arranged in biopiles (150-1000 m3 of soil each). Biopiles are engineered to stimulate either indigenous or allochthonous bacterial activity and to boost biodegradative metabolism, thus ensuring organic pollutants breakdown to mineralization. This remediation technology is the most environmentally friendly solution available on the market so far, as it is less energy-intensive (only required for soil excavation and aeration) and it has no detrimental impact on soil functions. However, its major limitation is the low removal efficiency of long-chain TPHs: TD is able to remove >99% (Engineering (2016) 2:426) while bioremediation remediation percentages might be as low as 20% for weathered TPHs (Int. J. Environ. Sci. Technol. 12:3597).
Enviromental and social
- To remove all petroleum-derived organic pollutants from aged industrial contaminated soils up to the required clean-up goals for soil reuse.
- To promote and demonstrate mycoremediation as a key bioremediation technology.
- To reduce the environmental impacts of mycoremediation processes in comparison with conventional technologies.
- To promote the principle of a circular economy, through the soil recovery (instead of landfilling) and the use of agro-industrial by-products and urban green waste.
- To demonstrate the feasibility of cost-effective production of fungal inocula formulations able to survive under full-scale mycoremediation conditions
- To demonstrate the feasibility of the scaling-up of static aerated fungal biopiles, with the achievement of successful removal efficiencies.
- To develop commercial tools specifically designed for mycoremediation monitoring.
Market and replicability
- To develop general guidelines for mycoremediation implementation.
- To decrease the remediation costs in comparison with conventional technologies.
- To validate the business value proposition and the associated model for the commercial exploitation of mycoremediation strategies and monitoring tools developed within the project.
- To confirm the reproducibility and transferability of mycoremediation strategy on different conditions and different target pollutants.
- To disseminate the results of the project for the reproducibility and transferability of the mycoremediation technology towards other European scenarios
Our aim is for the scheme to be an interactive diagram. When clicking on each element, it should appear the following:
- ACTION A.1: Preparatory actions
- ACTION B.1: Design of the prototypes
- ACTION B.2: Pilot test of mycopiles
- ACTION B.3: Guidelines and contribution to EU regulations
- ACTION B.4: Replication and Transferability
- ACTION B.5: Intellectual Property Rights and Business plan
- ACTION C.1: Monitoring to the project sustainability
- ACTION C.2: Monitoring and measuring of the LIFE project performance indicators (Leader: Eurecat)
- ACTION D.1: Dissemination activities
- ACTION D.2: Open days and networking
- ACTION E.1: Project management and overall project operations
- Subaction A1.1. Legal authorizations (Leader: Kepler)
- Subaction A1.2. Characterization of pilot sites (Leader: Valgo)
- Subaction A1.3. Advisory board set up (Leader: Eurecat)
- Subaction B1.1. Biotreatability evaluation (Leader: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
- Subaction B1.2. Design of mycopiles (Leader: Università degli Studi della Tuscia)
- Subaction B1.3. MYCOTRAPS development (Leader: Isodetect)
- Subaction B2.1. Production of fungal inocula (Leader: Novobiom)
- Subaction B2.2. Site adaptation and construction of pilot mycopiles (Leader: Valgo)
- Subaction B2.3. Operation of mycopiles (Leader: Kepler)
- Subaction B2.4. Validation of MYCOTRAPS and the monitoring toolset (Leader: Isodetect)
- Subaction B3.1. Guidelines for implementation of mycoremediation (Leader: Eurecat)
- Subaction B3.2. Contributions to EU standards and regulations (Leader: Eurecat)
- Subaction B4.1. Replication and transferability plan (Leader: Kepler)
- Subaction B4.2. Pilot mycopile for transferability test (Leader: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
- Subaction B4.3. Implementation of the guidelines for boosting replication (Leader: Eurecat)
- Subaction B5.1. IPR protection plan (Leader: Eurecat)
- Subaction B5.2. Business plan (Leader: Novobiom)
- Subaction C1.1. Monitoring of the environmental impact (Leader: Eurecat)
- Subaction C1.2. Monitoring of the economic sustainability (Leader: Eurecat)
- Subaction C1.3. Monitoring of the socio-economic impact (Leader: Eurecat)
- Subaction C1.4. Monitoring of the health risk assessment (Leader: Kepler)
- Sub Action D.1.2 Development of dissemination tools (Leader: Eurecat)
- Sub Action D.1. 3 Other dissemination tools (Leader: Eurecat)
Sub Action D.1.1 Communication strategy and dissemination plan (Leader: Eurecat)
- Sub Action D2.1 Workshops and Open days (Leader: Eurecat)
- Sub Action D2.2 Networking with other projects and organizations (Leader: Eurecat)
- Sub Action D2.3 Participation in International events (Leader: Eurecat)
- Sub Action D2.4 Social Networking (Leader: Eurecat)
- Sub Action E1.1 Project coordination by EURECAT (Leader: Eurecat)
- Sub Action E1.2 Advisory board (Leader: Eurecat)
- Sub Action E1.3 After LIFE Plan (Leader: Eurecat)
Enviromental and social
- Removal of organic pollutants (TPHs) over 90%, below the required concentration for soil reuse according to the legislation of each country.
- Reduction of soil toxicity >75% to obtain a treated soil with a quality compatible with industrial and/or residential uses.
- Reduction of environmental impacts compared to the thermal desorption baseline scenario: 90% energy reduction, 55% global warming reduction and 55-70% reduction in toxicity.
- Valorisation of 100 m3 of agro-industrial waste (spent mushroom substrate (SMS) and lignocellulosic waste) as fungal inoculum amendment.
- Production of 100 m3 of fungal inoculum with an optimized protocol for large-scale inoculum preparation.
- Obtainment of a new in situ microcosm prototype (MYCOTRAP) and 2 associated monitoring tools to control and enhance the success of the mycoremediation technology.
Market and replicability
- Provide successful cases of implementation to boost the full-scale implementation, thus demonstrating the replicability of the technology to different soil, climate conditions, etc.
- General guidelines developed for mycoremediation technology scale-up.
- CAPEX and OPEX values to evaluate the investment and operational costs at full-scale remediation. The expected costs will be below 75 €/m3 soil, thus reducing the costs of baseline scenario (thermal desorption) by at least 25%.
- A business plan developed, in line with the strategic development of each partner, to commercialize the technology and the new monitoring tool across the EU.
- Demonstration of the transferability of mycoremediation to different pollutants (i.e., Heat Transfer Fluid).