Our magazine VITO vision brings various expert articles about innovative projects, often including testimonials from our clients and/or project partner(s). Below you can find the online version of the magazine.

VITO Vision January 2023

Cover story: Upcycling mining waste into raw materials for concrete

Although we don’t immediately associate it with our continent, Europe still has a lot of mining activity. Nevertheless, mining metals such as copper, nickel and zinc produces large quantities of mineral waste - so-called tailings. Because this waste is mainly sent to landfills, it has a large environmental impact. The Horizon 2020 project NEMO, that ended late 2022, researched, developed and demonstrated solutions in this regard. VITO was also involved in the part of the project on recovering the mineral fraction of mining waste, working closely with ResourceFull. Together, they developed three different, ‘circular’ concrete mixes.

We visited ResourceFull, watch the video report below.


All articles in the VITO Vision of January 2023

VITO4STARTERS winner MyGrid brings energy transition into the home

VITO, the Flemish Technological Research Institute, not only creates and launches its own spin-offs, it also likes to give other start-ups working on sustainability a boost. That is why this year it decided to launch the VITO4STARTERS competition, the finals of which took place last summer at the Love Tomorrow Sustainability Conference. The six finalists, all Flemish start-ups, were invited to pitch their innovative ideas at this competition. The winner was rewarded with support from VITO to the tune of 20,000 euros.

With a flexible charging plan the smart charging point really does become intelligent

For some companies, their power supply capacity has traditionally been designed too small for optimal char-ging infrastructure; expansion is often financially or technically difficult. In both cases, smart charging can offer a solution. The current smart control of charging points is limited to load balancing. There is a lot of room for improvement in that regard, as experts from VITO/EnergyVille discovered. They developed software that makes managing charging points really intelligent, by taking into account both the convenience needs of em-ployees and visitors and the financial aspects for the company.

Monitoring grain crops from space, season by season

Having been commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA), VITO has developed a monitoring tool that can identify agricultural activities (the growing of specific crops but also measures such as irrigation) down to the level of individual fields. The WorldCereal tool covers the entire planet, and the maps it generates can be updated every growing season - which is a first. The remote sensing experts at VITO are increasingly working on a global scale. At the end of 2021, they finalised a new world cover map in the context of the ESA-WorldCover project. The level of detail and precision of the map were unprecedented. The WorldCover map was created based on images from Sentinel 1 and 2, two satellites that are part of the European Earth observation programme Copernicus.

A chemistry treasure hunt, now customised for all Flemish schools, companies and local authorities

In the augmented reality game app ResourCity, developed by VITO, you don’t hunt Pokémons with your smartphone, but the chemical elements in your environment. As such, you can discover what fabrics and materials are hidden in the playground, in historical buildings or near businesses, now or in the past. For schools, it is a handy, interactive learning tool, proposed by VITO free of charge. But companies and local authorities can also use the game app to highlight their connection not only with chemistry but also with sustainability and circularity. They can even become ambassadors of one or more elements from the Periodic table.

A European match-making platform for smart cities

The Smart Cities Marketplace is where ideas, solutions and best practices are shared and disseminated across the broad European smart city community. Through the Explore, Shape and Deal phases, project proposals are conceived, before becoming more mature and then fully-fledged. That way, they can be matched with a suitable investor at the end of the journey. The European initiative, coordinated by VITO, seeks to bring as many cities and municipalities as possible on board, including smaller ones. ‘We are currently mainly focusing on small and medium-sized cities, as they are under-represented for now.’

Monitoring micro- and nanoplastics

Whether it concerns large pieces of plastic litter or microscopic plastic particles, there is a general consensus when it comes to plastic waste: it does not belong in nature, in our environment or in our food. The fight against plastic pollution starts with adequate monitoring. In the area of detecting and characterising micro- and nanoplastics, VITO is in the lead. ‘We are expanding the VITO lab into an international reference for the monitoring of the smallest plastic particles.’

More sustainable water management thanks to a flow of data

VITO and water-link are evolving from measuring to knowing to predicting with sensors | ‘Thanks to the data we captured with the sensor network that water-link and VITO rolled out on the Albert Canal and the Antwerp canal docks, we closely coordinated the management of our waterways with all the parties involved. We can see the impact our decisions are having and support policy and measures with factual insights. Proactively too.’ For Sven Kempeneers, Process Engineer at water-link, this is a major step in what began as a monitoring project with VITO. ‘After all, water is one system we all need to work with. In the most sustainable way.’

In the cockpit of the European chemical risk assessment programme

VITO is closely involved in PARC, the European Union’s ambitious partnership that is tasked with improving and harmonising chemical risk assessment, and the relevant methods and tools. PARC is jointly controlled by the European Commission and the Member States. ‘Ultimately, this should result in a win-win, where best practices and data are shared as much as possible and chemical safety issues are resolved.’

VITO employee in the spotlight: Cathérina Elsemans

Having studied to be a translator-interpreter and with a passion for languages, Cathérina Elsemans (34) ended up in sales. In early 2020, she started at VITO as sales coordinator. Over the last two years, she has primarily worked on the new CRM system, which has been rolled out in phases since June 2022. At VITO, this system is much broader than just customer relationship management. ‘We manage all our contacts with it, on a commercial, marketing and R&D level. It fits within our 360-degree approach to share and provide as much relevant data as possible for our employees.’


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