22 Luglio 2024
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The aim of the LIGHTAN project is to update the supply chain in the Tuscan tanning industry in terms of product quality, market competitiveness and mitigation of environmental impact through an innovative integrated approach involving all players managing the individual steps: analysis of the entire process based on integrated optimisation will simultaneously assess interconnections between the means chosen (tanning reagents and technology to remove pollutants as implemented for the sector). In particular, the project plans to use the logic identified in the Smart Specialisation document to develop an eco-sustainable process, operating through integrated solutions for waste water management, production process efficiency, reduced consumption of chemical products.
The potential impact of the project first and foremost lies in the major benefits to the Tuscan leather industry, by reducing reagent consumption and costs for waste and effluents management, reinforcing its international leadership role in industrial innovation for the leather district.
Based on past research carried out by a number of project team members, it was possible to identify certain compounds used in the tanning cycle (including natural and synthetic tannins) as the main obstacle to application of technologies to treat waste that, at the same time, could reduce both the high cost and the environmental impact of waste treatment.
The specific goals will be:
• Formulate and use new-concept chemical products that minimise impact tannery offloading (salinity and chemical compounds with low biodegradability).
• Assess the effect of compounds and mixtures on existing treatment processes (biodegradability in conventional activated sludge processes, nitrification and anaerobic digestion inhibitors).
• Recover “unused” high value-added and high environmental impact chemical products (e.g. tannins) from the liquid waste, for re-use in the production process (economic savings and reduced environmental impact on treatment).
• Optimise innovative pre-treatments after tanning, using a new advanced oxidation process (Non-Thermal Plasma) to increase biodegradability, reduce the treatment inhibiting factor and develop the same technology for application by the Waste Treatment Consortium.
• Develop innovative technology to remove recalcitrant compounds based on the use of fungal biomass cultivated in situ in a reactor developed ad hoc and strategically included in the waste treatment chain through innovative culture and bio-enhancement strategies.
• Formulate a smart tariff system for the consortium so as to allow application of the “who pollutes pays” principle and promote the resulting virtuous economic and environmental cycle.

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