Austrian BioCycles

In the project “Austrian BioCycles” the topic of “secondary biomass and potential exploitation in Austria” was examined in a cooperation between alchemia-nova (ALCN), scenario editor (SCED), Austrian Society for Environment and Technology (ÖGUT) and the Institute for Production and Logistics of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU).

We assessed the streams of secondary biomass qualitatively and quantitatively and examined the theoretical substitution potential. We can base this study to a large extent on work that the consortium had already done within other studies. We evaluated processing methodologies against the various conversion technologies of specific conversion rates and drew a comparison between secondary biogenic raw materials generated in Austria and the EU. Following a survey of existing infrastructure for potential biorefineries, we developed a logistics concept for an integrated biorefinery network in Austria and present it as a digital map.

The biorefinery concepts envisage the production of bio-based products for a variety of uses, together with profitability assessments and economic and ecological impacts determined under varying framework conditions. We also compared conventional production methods of bio-based materials and integrated biorefinery cascades.


The project report is a publishable study defining the technological research needs, as identified in cooperation with experts from various disciplines. This is the short version of ABC and here is the visualisation of all resource conversion pathways to derive from side-streams to all platform chemicals.

Project leader
alchemia-nova GmbH

Project partner
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Institute of Production and Logistics
ÖGUT (Austrian Society for Environment and Technology)
scenario editor e.U.

Project status
Start: 2/2019, duration 12 months
FFG 28. Ausschreibung PdZ nationale Projekte 2018, F&E Dienstleistung
Overall costs: € 79.996,00

Veronika Reinberg:



Innovative circular solutions and services for new business opportunities in the EU housing sector

HOUSEFUL is an EU Innovation project submitted and approved under call topic CIRC-1-2017 (Systemic, eco-innovative approaches to the circular economy: large scale demonstration projects) (Grant Agreement No. 776708).

The project’s aim is to develop technical solutions in combination with building-level services to be offered within the framework of closed loop management models. The focus is on solutions that enable the efficient use of water, waste, energy and material resources. These solutions will be sought and developed in co-creation workshops with stakeholders and will be available to the public in an on-line software.

A wide spectrum of technical solutions will be developed and demonstrated at four demonstration buildings (two in Spain, near Barcelona, one in Vienna and one in Fehring, Austria), and then translated into circular business models developed with expert stakeholders. One of the frontrunner buildings is the Cambium Community Project in the former military barrack in Fehring, Austria. It is planned to collect the organic waste from the building and transform it into usable resources. Organic solid waste will be converted into biogas, used directly within the building and the digestate will be composted on site. The liquid organic-waste components will be processed by a vertical plant-treatment unit, producing valuable fertilizer for on-site agricultural use.

BIM (Building Integrated Modeling) surveys of all 4 demonstration buildings, and the creation of “Material Passports” to enhance recovery are foreseen within the project, as well as the development of a method to evaluate the circularity of buildings.

alchemia-nova will apart from coordinating the demonstration building Cambium, work intensively with stakeholders from all areas, and is also responsible for all greening cycles and their automation processes, as well as for a series of other tasks as a circular economy pioneer.



Project coordination
LEITAT – Technological Center – Acondicionamiento Tarrasense

Project partner
ITEC – Institut de Tecnologia de la Construccio de Catalunya
Fundacion CARTIF
Agencia de l´Habitate de Catalunya
VISUM Limited
AIGUASOL – Sistemes Avancats de energia Solar Termica – SCCL
LGI consulting
Architekturbüro Reinberg ZT GmbH
Turntoo B.V.
Neues Leben
Housing Europe – Comite Europeen de Coordination de l`Habitat Social AISBL
WE&B – Water, Environment and Business for Development
iCube Programme – Fondazione iCons
IDP Ingeniera y Archtitectura Iberia SL
IRIS Technology Solutions

Project status
Start 5/2018, duration 54 months
Project website:
Call: H2020-IND-CE-2016-17 (Industry 2020 in the Circular Economy)
Topic: CIRC-01-2016-2017
Innovation Action
Grant Agreement Number:  776708
Overall project costs: € 8,535,247.50
EU participation: € 6,997,228.50


COST Circular Cities

Implementing nature based solutions for creating a resourceful circular city

Resource depletion, climate change and degradation of ecosystems are challenges faced by cities worldwide and will increase if cities do not adapt. In order to tackle those challenges, it is necessary to transform our cities into sustainable systems using a holistic approach. One element in achieving this transition is the implementation of nature-based solutions (NBS). They can provide a range of ecosystem services beneficial for the urban biosphere such as regulation of micro-climates, flood prevention, water treatment, food provision and more. However, most NBS are implemented serving only one single purpose. Adopting the concept of circular economy by combining different types of services and returning resources to the city, would increase the benefits gained for urban areas. This COST Action aims to establish a network testing the hypothesis that: A circular flow system that implements NBS for managing nutrients and resources within the urban biosphere will lead to a resilient, sustainable and healthy urban environment . To tackle this challenge five working groups (WGs) give their contribution on closing the resource cycle within the urban biosphere. The five WGs will deal with the built environment, urban water, resource recovery, urban farming and transformation tools connecting the WGs and the socio-economic impact.

The project was initiated by alchemia-nova. The main aim and objective of the Action is to build an interdisciplinary platform for connecting city planners, architects, system designers, economists, engineers and researchers from social and natural sciences that develop nature based solutions in the urban landscape that are facilitate circular economies based on the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recover) and allow cities to cope with future challenges.


About COST

The European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) provides funding for the creation of research networks, called COST Actions. These networks offer an open space for collaboration among scientists across Europe (and beyond) and thereby give impetus to research advancements and innovation. COST is bottom up, this means that researchers can create a network – based on their own research interests and ideas – by submitting a proposal to the COST Open Call. The proposal can be in any science field. COST Actions are highly interdisciplinary and open.

COST Action CA17133

Topic: Implementing nature based solutions for creating a resourceful circular city

Management Committee

MC Chair: Dr. Guenter LANGERGRABER, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna – Institute of Sanitary Engineering, Austria

MC Vice Chair: Dr. Natasa ATANASOVA, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Working Group Leaders

Prof David Pearlmutter (Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Ben Gurion University Israel), Dr Hasan Volkan Oral (istanbul aydin university, Turkey), MSc Johannes Kisser (alchemia-nova GmbH, Austria), MSc Siv Lene Gangenes Skar (NIBIO Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research, Norway), Dr Evangelia Katsou (Brunel University, United Kingdom)

37 COST Members

Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

1 Cooperating Member: Israel

Project status
Start 22/10/2018 – End 21/10/2022
Project website:




ReCO2ST is an EU Horizon 2020 research program aiming to better building & living. It applies an easy 3-step approach to building renovations, resulting in major savings and heightened standards of living, at a near-zero energy coefficient.

First, our interactive Refurbishment Assessment Tool (RAT) provides the customer with clearly defined, user-driven refurbishment scenarios. The installation is then planned and optimized through an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) tool, and finally, the selected refurbishment package of innovative technologies is deployed as a customizable Retrofit-Kit. The Retrofit-Kit features a compendium of cost efficient and modular technologies, including: Vacuum Insulation, Modular Photovoltaics, Smart Windows for Heating and Cooling, an Intelligent Energy Management System, fully integrated Wireless Sensor Network, Cool Materials and Nature Based Solutions.

The technologies have been chosen based on their cost effectiveness, energy use and generation efficiency, reliability and applicability in a wide range of building types. End user will be empowered to take an informed decision regarding the renovation extent followed by principles of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) leading to the final selection of the technologies to be installed. At least five of the ReCO2ST components will be required to ensure the advantages provided by the method (Hard Constraints). There is however choice in terms of model, system, technology etc.

Cost & Time Efficiency:
  • Modular Action Plans with Adaptable Solutions
  • Integrated Project Delivery
  • Least Cost Approach
  • Synergies between Technologies
  • Predictive Maintenance
Energy Efficiency:
  • Ultra-Thin Vacuum Insulation
  • Compact PV Arrays (Photovoltaics)
  • Smart windows
  • Cooling Materials
  • System monitored & Controlled by Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS)
Human Health & Comfort:
  • Thermal, Acoustic and Visual Comfort
  • Passive on Demand Ventilation
  • Nature Based Air Treatment
  • Streamlined and Intuitive Integrated Environmental Management Systems (IEM) Optimized for Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
  • Urban Microclimate Improvement
  • Renewable Energy Sources (RES) Energy Generation
  • Low CO2 Footprint of Solutions
  • Decarbonized Refurbishment

ReCO2ST overview

RECO2ST Results

As specialists in the nature-based solutions, alchemia-nova has developed two automatable bio-technical indoor air-treatment systems for inclusion in the Retrofit-Kit. The systems are based on the air purification, cooling and humidification properties of specially selected plants. They improve indoor air quality and thermal comfort by filtering out harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Particulate Matter (PM), and by regulating relative humidity levels, enhancing also significantly the aesthetics of the indoor environment. The first comprises of a decentralised pot-plant-based system (AeroPlant) easily installed into buildings as part of a retrofit-kit, or as stand-alone solutions. The second system (Casetta) is a semi-centralised unit that can be installed in a window, in which ambient-air is treated by directing ventilation through a “winter garden”-like plant chamber.

Casetta Brunel

Casetta Brunel

AeroPlant kitchen integrated

AeroPlant kitchen integrated

The systems are automatable and designed to maintain better and healthier air-quality, and a stable indoor temperature, heightening comfort and significantly enhancing the aesthetics of the indoor environment.

Download the Aeroplant Leaflet

Project coordinator

Project Partners
ESTIA SA, Switzerland
VA-Q-TEC AG, Germany
QUANTIS, Switzerland
HORN  IRENE, Denmark

Project status
Starts 1/2018, duration 42 months
Project homepage:
Call: H2020-EEB- 005-2017 Development of near zero energy building renovation
Innovation Action
Grant Agreement Number:  768576
Estimated Project Cost: € 8,415,618.75
Requested EU Contribution: € 6,914,690.00


pop-up environments

Urban pop-up housing environments (PUEs) and their potential as local innovation systems
The aim of the project

The project aim is to contribute to the transition of the construction sector from linear to circular models, by using temporary PUEs, so as to make urban reuse strategies more sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms, in an attempt to find adaptable and flexible paradigms for different urban contexts.


The need for temporary housing particularly in urban environments is expected to increase dramatically. To address these urgent demands, it is important to find affordable and flexible but sustainable and reusable concepts that are easy to construct and rapid to implement. However, to go one step further, temporary housing will be conceptualized as local innovation systems. In this respect, this proposal focuses on an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach to systematically investigate and evaluate existing temporary housing options, and to create holistic, innovative and sustainable models for pop-up living systems in urban environments.

Methods from urban and landscape planning, architecture and building systems technologies are interlinked to resource related disciplines such as energy optimization, green technologies, sustainable waste management, water supply and wastewater treatment as well as social and political sciences. Diverse modelling approaches are integrated into a cross-disciplinary model and subsequent scenarios of pop-up housing environments are developed for different target groups and types of urban spaces. Risk assessment approaches as well as energy and life-cycle-assessments are applied to evaluate the housing models. This research clearly goes beyond state-of-the-art, since for the first time a systemic modelling approach is applied to develop high-quality and sustainable temporary housing environments as innovation niches within urban systems.

Temporary housing scenarios

Within the project, six possible temporary housing scenarios were defined for the context of Vienna. The scenarios were developed with the aid of stakeholders and six suitable areas for temporary housing in the city were identified.

Six suitable areas for temporary housing in the Viennese context
  1. vacant lots, understood as urban gaps due to the lack of buildings in densely constructed lots;
  2. empty buildings, like factories and industries that have fallen into disuse and are now abandoned;
  3. large green open spaces (whereby these spaces provide important functions which must be taken into consideration);
  4. rail traffic areas which are no longer in use and the reuse of train wagons for residential purposes;
  5. vacant ground floor retail spaces, before a new destination is found;
  6. bodies of water, like rivers, and the reuse of old cargo ships.
Developed scenarios

The scenarios were developed by alchemia-nova and the consortium in a step-by-step process:

  1. definition of the scenario (during workshops with interested stakeholders);
  2. concept design (in collaboration with the students of the “POPUP SHELTER – Design Studio” course at the Technical University of Vienna);
  3. architecture modelling for the definition of the physical 3D models (lead by alchemia-nova);
  4. model assessment for the definition of energy, materials and waste flows.
Project Progress

As part of the ongoing project, the six scenarios were at different levels of development while the questionnaire sessions were being conducted: scenarios #1, #2 and #3 were completely defined regarding concept and architecture and almost completed regarding the model assessment. For scenarios #4, #5 and #6, concepts and architectures were defined, but the model assessment was still ongoing. Among the various benefits considered for the selection of scenarios, the reuse of building gaps (scenario #1), empty buildings (scenario #2) and vacant ground floor retail spaces (scenario #5) have the objective to give back to the community spaces which are otherwise cut off from the urban context. There are also positive impacts regarding transport, energy conservation and raw materials, since the structures are already there, and large quantities of new building materials are not necessary. The realization of PUEs in green and shaded spaces has the objective of finding new and cooler areas of the city to escape heat islands (scenario #3), while the reuse of trains (scenario #4) and ships (scenario #6) allows a second life for the vehicles, the use of otherwise unused spaces and efficient transportation of the housing units to European destinations along the railway or river networks.

Drivers and barriers for international transferability

In order to explore drivers and barriers of the scenarios regarding the international transferability of the concepts, online questionnaire sessions were conducted with an international audience. The feedback obtained by the participants allowed an analysis of the applicability of the concepts to other urban environments under comparable conditions at the international level. The results obtained from the questionnaire sessions allowed insight on the international perception of temporary pop-up environments and, specifically, strengths and weaknesses of the scenarios, as well as their possible applicability in the local contexts of the respondents. It was observed that while the perceptions of what requirements temporary housing must fulfill in order to be sustainable are quite uniform among the experts, the identified barriers for implementation within the different international contexts differed greatly. The designs of these temporary housing scenarios, which rely heavily on local resources and systems, are strongly interwoven with the fabric and conditions of the city they were conceptualized for. While this serves to promote the sustainability of these solutions, it poses a particular challenge for the international transferability, requiring heavy adaptation for other contexts.


More information on the project can be found on the project website.  Within this project Bertino et al. published Framework Conditions and Strategies for Pop-Up Environments in Urban Planning” in the special issue Urban Planning and Social Well-being of the Sustainability Journal, 2019.

The second paper “Urban Pop-Up Housing Environments and Their Potential as Local Innovation Systems”. got published in the Journal “Applied Science” in the special issue “Sustainable and Durable Building Materials”.

A summary of project results and outcomes can be found here



Green Recovery of Metals

Tapping the results from Bio-Ore and PhytoMine, GRecoMet  is set up as a pioneering project exploring new pathways of non-ferrous metal recovery. Metals, diffusely dispersed in waste incineration ash, are brought in solution through microbial leaching in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way. Depending on the characteristics of the different metals and the specific method, up to 100% mobilization is expected. The obtained bioleachate is used for rhizofiltration and biosorption experiments. (1) alchemia-nova GmbH has developed and patented a horizontal constructed wetland (in the course of the EU project demEAUmed), which will be adapted to enrich metals hydroponically in the plant tissue of selected metal accumulators (a process called rhizofiltration). (2) Additionally, different natural materials will be tested for biosorption properties. In a series of experiments residues from agro-forestry and food industry (egg shells, potato peels, residues from sugar beet and cereal processing,… ) and dried plant and algae biomass will be used for adsorption of metals from bioleachate. (3) Further trials deal with accumulation of metals in living microalgae and cyanobacteria. (4) In addition, adsorption of metals from bioleachate to oligopeptids and other polymers will be tested. Innovative gentle chemical processes for the recovery of metals from the obtained biomass will then be optimised based on findings of the project Bergwerk Pflanze (e.g. using ultrasonication to aid the remobilisation of metals from biomass) to develop efficient and cost-effective ways to gain high-quality bio-ores, salts or pure metals.

Project leader

Project partners
UWEG Umweltschutz und Wertstoff-Recycling GmbH & Co.KG
SMT Metalle Wimmer
acib GmbH – Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology
SPIEGLtec GmbH – consulting engineers

Project status
Start 04/2016, duration 36 months
FFG Production of the Future – 15th call
Project no. 853480
Overall costs € 904,701 – FFG contribution € 742,100