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Future goals and challenges

Having introduced Abengoa Research, the greatest challenge now facing the company is its consolidation as an international reference point for cutting-edge R&D in the area of energy and the environment. 

In the field of second-generation biofuels, Abengoa was selected to design, build and operate the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) major biorefinery demonstration plant located in Hugoton, Kansas, construction of which began in September 2011.

The aim of the project is to turn approximately 300,000 t per annum of agricultural waste, such as corn stubble (stalks and husks) into approximately 100 ML of biomass ethanol per year (around 23 Mgal), using an innovative process of enzymatic hydrolysis. The plant will make the most of agricultural crop waste which would otherwise not be employed for use as a raw material input. This is estimated to cut annual gasoline consumption by more than 59 ML, which will prevent the emission into the atmosphere of over 139,000 t of CO2.

One of the main challenges for the solar area is increasing its management capability through new ways to store energy, in order for solar energy to be supplied even at times where there is not enough solar radiation. Other related technological challenges include higher efficiency in converting solar energy into electrical power and cost reduction.

Objectives in the water segment are as follows: positioning the company as a leader in desalination; being technologically competitive in generating drinking water, urban and industrial wastewater treatment and reuse, and cementing leadership in hydro infrastructures and water resource management models and systems.

In the aluminum waste recycling area, R&D+i activities are aimed at improving performance in recovering raw materials and aluminum waste and optimizing operational processes and product quality, while also developing new and improved technologies contributing to sustainable development.

In the area of one-stop industrial waste management, the objective is to develop new technologies for adapting to the continuous changes in environmental law and the diversification towards new environmental markets, as well as the increasing number of treatable wastes, and to harness energy from these in such a way as to optimize waste processing.