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In the 1980s, OWS nv, originally a spin-off company of Ghent University, developed the DRANCO process, a unique and patented process for the anaerobic digestion of organic matter. Since then, about 30 DRANCO installations have been built worldwide.

OWS is now one of the market leaders for the anaerobic digestion of source-separated organics and the organic fraction of municipal solid waste.

OWS also has a contract research laboratory for testing the biodegradability and compostability of plastics, packaging materials, consumer goods etc. under strict quality conditions. In the past 25 years, OWS has tested more than 3,000 materials and products for their biodegradability and compostability, for more than 800 customers worldwide. About 70-80% of all certified products on the market have been tested by OWS.

OWS’s research activities focus on four domains:

  1. Improvement of the DRANCO anaerobic digestion technology
  2. Biodegradation assessments
  3. Sustainability assessments
  4. New routes for biological upgrading of waste (gas) streams.

In this last domain, research on waste gas conversions focuses on CO2 upgrading. Power-to-gas applications, i.e. the valorization of surplus renewable electricity via microbial methanation, have been extensively researched. More recently, a shift to conversion of CO2, CO and H2 to products (acetic acid and ethanol) has been made, which allows higher added-value creation than CH4-production and which is independent of surplus renewable electricity. Secondly, OWS develops the conversion of low value biomass waste streams to carboxylic acids, through hydrolysis and fermentation, again with the aim of generating higher value products than is possible through anaerobic digestion.