Customer case VP-Systems & Inventflow: from manure processor to producer of sustainable minerals

Customer story VP-Systems & INVENTFLOW: from fertilizer processor to producer of sustainable minerals


When you hear the word 'manure' you quickly think of smell, dirt and nuisance. Henk Willems of VP-Systems explains how he wants to put an end to this with a unique air treatment system. Why Willems air washer is unique? “An air washer is very important because you want to avoid causing nuisance. You can then build an air washer that only removes the odor, but then the air washer does not add any value. On one hand you want to prevent nuisance and reduce emissions, on the other hand you want to recover as many nutrients as possible. By developing an air washer that makes this possible, you benefit from it and it works both ways. ” Inventflow has been happy to contribute to this sustainable and innovative development for years. As a pump specialist, they provide the supply and maintenance of pumps that play a crucial role in the air treatment system.

Willems is happy to explain this further: “What the automotive industry does is inject AdBlue into an exhaust system. This reacts with the NOx, which reacts with nitrogen and is captured in a catalytic converter. Then it falls out like a salt rock, without any useful application. What we do is bind ammonia with acids. This ammonia eventually returns to our produced product. That is why we increasingly see ourselves as a company that can store nitrogen, transport it and use nitrogen in the right place ”.


Manure processing is becoming more and more concentrated, with the market forming towards a small amount of processors, who recover minerals on a large scale. Air conditioning systems play an important role in this, in order to meet emission standards. The system developed by VP-Systems has been successfully applied in the village of America, where the company Agro America functions as a producer of sustainable minerals.

Two similar air washers are currently being built at other processing companies. These air washers are also provided by Inventflow with the necessary intelligent pumps and associated maintenance. The system has the potential to have a huge impact on the sustainability of the manure processing industry. The aim is therefore to make the system available to every processing company. Willems: “I think that it is important for other processors, just as it is for us, to obtain a 'license to operate'. We eventually come to the point that people simply no longer accept odor nuisance. In addition, the criticism surrounding intensification is increasing, which means that as a fertilizer processor you want to be a frontrunner in minimizing emissions. ”

Customers are willing to invest and take risks, but financiers often want to take much less risk. They look at the so-called TRL level (Technology Readiness Level). The air washer is located at TRL level 8, which means that the technology is implemented on a large scale, operationally and cost-effectively at one company. By realizing its own site, the necessary optimisations have been made and the teething problems have been removed from the system. Step by step, VP-Systems is getting closer to the possibility of making the air treatment system available to all companies that wish to apply emission-reducing measures.  

The collaboration between VP-Systems and Inventflow

VP-Systems has been working with Inventflow for years, particularly for the supply and maintenance of Grundfos pumps. As an official Grundfos A partner, Inventflow is pleased with the great satisfaction with the pumps. Grundfos dosing pumps, for example, fulfill important roles in various parts of the air washer. In addition, a Grundfos CRN pump was placed on the RO installation. Willems: “Grundfos has pumps that work well energetically. You can start a Grundfos pump at 1 Hertz, which can start very slowly and runs like a charm. If you take a similar pump from a different brand, you will see it suddenly break loose at 5 or 10 Hertz and then it starts to run at some point. ”


Inventflow recommended the use of the latest Grundfos dosing technologies. The intelligent dosing pumps are easy to configure for specific applications. In addition, the pumps enable advanced process control and integration with system control through features such as automatic venting, flow monitoring and detection of overpressure, pipe breakage, air bubbles and cavitation.

What distinguishes Grundfos dosing pumps from other dosing pumps? Willem's answer is clear about that. On the one hand the simplicity, he indicates. A pump without complicated parts. It's a diaphragm that goes back and forth and two bullets and that's it. “What this pump also does nicely is regulating with its stepper motor. Where other pumps would have stopped, you can use this pump with a turndown ratio of 1 to 1000 with four to twenty milliamps signal. The diaphragm moves back and forth very smoothly, whereby the pump does not suffer from wear and tear if I dose slowly or if I dose a lot. ”

The pumps play an important role in the removal of ammonia, sulfur and organic components such as acids and other odors. The dosing pumps are used in the acid washer, the lye washer and the oxidative washer. The pump doses acid in the acid washer, lye in the second and an oxidizing agent in the third. The first two control for pH and the oxidant based on redox potential. Willems explains that the accuracy of regulation is also an important advantage. 

Processes stop and a malfunction could occur in which the ammonia load is halved within 15 minutes. If this happens, a dosing pump must respond quickly. As we work with continuous control, this is no problem. With pH control in the air washer, for example, a range between 2.98 and 3.02 is used. Grundfos dosing technology makes this possible. The Grundfos pumps have an enormous control range and precision, which is of great importance.

We also saw this in the summer with the warm weather, says Willems. “When the sun rises in the morning and shines on the barn, the temperature shoots up in an hour. This changes the ammonia concentration. You can then see the pump adjusting very nicely to the required dosage. Where other air treatment systems work with on / off principles with start / stop dosing, we use controls”.


The most recent measurements show that the air washer is able to remove ammonia with an efficiency of 99%. In addition, an efficiency of 95% for sulfur removal has been achieved. The system performs excellently, but more support is needed for it to be implemented by other producers of renewable minerals. For example, Willems explains that provinces and municipalities are used to prescribing known means to reduce emissions. In livestock farming, certain types of air washers are known that have been approved. In order to comply with the necessary emission reduction, a processing company must use one of the well-known air washers.

Willems: “These kinds of rules hold back innovation. We are pleased that the province of Limburg is going along with innovation. The regulations in our permit prescribe clear goals. How we get there does not matter more or less. Of course you must have licensed your chemicals and you must indicate what the building heights are, but I can optimize the process itself where necessary. It is good that the Netherlands knows that we really have to comply with target regulations. We actually stimulate innovation with target regulations. "


When thinking of manure processing, people immediately think about dirt, instead of the production of sustainable minerals, while other industries are broadly doing the same. For example, consider the dairy industry, where the valuable minerals are extracted from milk and sold as a powder all over the world.

Willems: “I think if we had no more dairies tomorrow, the environmental problem would be greater than we have today with manure and minerals. Because then we really wouldn't know where to go with all that protein and lactose. That sector started to form in the 1980s. When I was little, we had maybe 4 or 5 different desserts in the supermarket. And now the dairy aisle is 20 meters long. I see those Skyr yoghurts in my refrigerator nowadays, we didn't have to think about that five years ago. These are developments that the sector has gone through, it has made itself 'sexy' and attractive. ”

We therefore also have to dry our product and package the minerals differently. Look at the rendering world, blood is dirty. Everyone has the same thing with blood as with manure. That is dirty and comes from a slaughterhouse. But nobody knows that the hemoglobin powder is used with the sausages they buy in the store. But the butcher who makes the sausage adds that, because it is good for the taste.

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