Research

Researchers develop a simple model for companies to calculate their climate impact

Tero Joronen
Industry Professor Tero Joronen
With cities around the world racing to reduce their carbon footprints, companies and business districts must follow suit to help tackle climate change. Tampere University participates in the new The 6Aika: ILPO project to support a shift towards a more climate-friendly business landscape. The 6Aika: ILPO project is a part of the shared 6Aika - Six City Strategy implemented by the six largest cities in Finland.

A wide range of convenient carbon footprint calculators are available online for consumers, but companies need access to similar tools so they can move towards carbon-neutrality – or even climate positivity, meaning that they remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they generate. Launched in April 2020, the Six City Strategy: ILPO project is carried out develop operational and mathematical models for promoting climate-positive activities, perform carbon balance calculations and create carbon roadmaps for business districts. 

“To achieve carbon neutrality, we must not only focus on individual emission sources, such as traffic and housing, but also look at the big picture. Companies and business district play an important role in these efforts. They need a simple and fast but a sufficiently comprehensive tool for assessing their climate impact,” says Tero Joronen, Industry Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Tampere University.

Emissions from circular economy centres under scrutiny

Companies must be able to easily calculate their emissions and climate impact and receive valuable insights and information in return. The role of Tampere University in the ILPO project is to develop the identification and assessment of climate positivity and test new technology, especially in circular economy centres that serve as hubs for managing waste and material streams.    

“Our subproject explores the identification of the main sources of emissions from circular economy centres, such as materials, raw materials, energy consumption, wasted heat and energy and the business processes connected to circular economy. The existing carbon sinks located near circular economy centres will be included in our calculations. Our goal is to design a practical algorithm,” Tero Joronen says.

Based on the results of previous studies, the team of researchers will explore a number of options for calculating climate positivity. They are developing a reproducible and scalable model that can be used to calculate climate positivity for circular economy purposes anywhere in the world. 

“We will carry out practical tests in the circular economy centre located in Turku, Finland, as well as one other domestic location, Germany and India. Large-scale testing will provide extensive insights into the functionality of our model in different geographical contexts,” Joronen points out.  

Harnessing pressure and heat to accelerate recycling

One aspect of climate positivity is the effective reuse of materials. Besides developing mathematical models, researchers on the Hervanta campus of Tampere University are designing hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) equipment for converting, for example, plastic, organic and textile waste into more usable forms.   

“As some material streams are difficult to recycle or reuse, the best option may be to convert them into bio-oil or bio-coal. HTL is an interesting new technology for converting materials with the help of extreme pressure and heat. The pressure inside our device is about 300 bars, which is roughly equal to the pressure in the bottom of the sea at a depth of three kilometres. “

“Practical tests on our device will be performed in Topinpuisto, Turku. The tests will hopefully yield a great deal of new information about the conversion of challenging materials for reuse purposes,” Tero Joronen says.

The Six City Strategy: ILPO project is a part of the shared Six City Strategy implemented by the six largest cities in Finland. The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council. Besides Tampere University, the participants include Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto Oy (a waste management company), Business Tampere, the City of Tampere and the City of Vaasa. The project will run from 1 April 2020 to 31 December 2021.

Inquiries: Industry Professor Tero Joronen, tel. +358 50 4478535, tero.joronen [at] tuni.fi