Team Charbrick Wins the Belgian BISC-E Student Competition during Tech Tour Circular 2024

(26-04-2024) Team Charbrick wins the 2024 Belgian BISC-E competition, a featured event at this year’s Tech Tour Circular 2024 held on April 23-24.

Team Charbrick, composed of students from the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering of Ghent University, impressed the judges and audience with their innovation that integrates biochar from spent coffee grounds into cement manufacturing, improving concrete quality while halving the energy required for cement.

With their victory, Team Charbrick will represent Belgium at the European finals of the BISC-E competition, competing against finalists from 16 other countries. This provides an exciting opportunity to showcase further demonstrate the potential of their biochar-integrated concrete on a larger stage.

The Bio-based Innovation Student Challenge Europe (BISC-E), encourages students to explore innovation and business development in the emerging bioeconomy while developing a new biobased product or process. The challenge is open for all Bachelor and Master students (+ PhDs as coaches). Three student teams presented their projects:

First place: Team Charbrick (UGent)

Charbrick operates at the nexus of waste valorization and sustainable concrete production by integrating biochar production with cement manufacturing. Biochar from pyrolysis of spent coffee grounds is mixed in the cement, rendering a better concrete. Coupling the liberated green energy from pyrolysis moreover reduces the fuel requirement for cement kilns by 50%. Charbrick thus stands for better concrete and energy management. These students were Tilly Van Hecke, Fran Van de Velde, Arne Desmyter and Asmae Guerbaoui and guided by postdoc Stef Ghysels (UGent).

Second place: Team ECOGEL (UGent)

EcoGel, a game-changing solution that turns waste into value. By repurposing orange peel waste into a powerful hydrogel, EcoGel helps maintain the freshness of supermarket produce, minimizing waste and maximizing value. It’s not just about keeping fruits and vegetables fresh; it’s about reshaping our environmental impact. These students were Chiara Vikkula, Begüm Topçu Borrajo Bastero and Yerim Kim guided by Postdoc Maarten De Mol (UGent).

Team Ecogel

Third place: Team SCOBY (UGent + Arteveldehogeschool)

Scoby Paper valorizes a so far untapped waste stream by recovering microbial cellulose from scoby, a byproduct from kombucha production, and incorporating it in the paper and cardboard industry. The high quality of cellulose fibers requires a less intense pulping process, thus reducing the energy requirement and the need for water and (bleaching) chemicals. Furthermore, incorporation of microbial cellulose reduces the need for plant based cellulose, thus mitigating deforestation. Ultimately, Scoby Paper steers towards a circular and more sustainable paper and cardboard industry, where waste materials are repurposed into valuable resources. These students were Jasper Meere, Emma Verhoestraete and Flore Ongenae guided by PhD-student Arthur Van Cleemput (UGent).


Tech Tour circular event

The Tech Tour Circular event, organized by the Green Chem network of Ghent University and Stad Gent, wants to foster innovation and growth within the circular economy. This dynamic event showcased around 40 groundbreaking companies, each driving change in the circular economy and design sector, presenting to a group of active investors. They were all active in areas such as Construction & Infrastructure, Chemistry & Plastics, Bioeconomy, Manufacturing & Materials, Feed, Food, Fork, and Water Loops.