Food and Textile Waste Biorefinery

Technology Overview

In the recent years, there has been a growing demand for biotechnology-based processes for material, chemical and fuel production to minimise the environmental impacts that chemical technology based alternatives may cause, and an increasing need to reduce waste generation amidst resource and environmental concerns.

A research team has developed an integrated biorefinery strategy to valorise food and textile wastes. Through a combination of efficient pre-treatment and fractionation, industrial biotechnology and green chemical conversion processes, and techno-economic assessments, these waste streams can be bio-transformed into high value products such as biopolymers, bio-surfactants

Technology Features & Specifications

The biorefinery strategy comprises the combinatory use of several platform technologies/processes such as (fungal) enzymatic hydrolysis, (yeast/fungi) fermentation, and other industrial processes such as saccharification, pyrolysis, chemical/physical treatments etc.

Processes have been developed to treat agricultural crop wastes, fruits and vegetable wastes, carbohydrate-rich snacks and beverages, bakery wastes, cellulosic materials and textile wastes into chemicals, precursors, bio-surfactants, bioplastics, bio-colorants.

Potential Applications

A number of waste streams have been researched/treated via the bio-refinery strategy: 

  • Mixed fruits and vegetable waste conversion to succinic acid, a food additive and chemical precursor
  • Utilisation of waste bread, bakery waste for succinic production
  • Conversion of restaurant food waste to sophorolipids, a bio-surfactant
  • Bioconversion of carbohydrate-rich snacks and beverages waste to fructose, followed by subsequent chemical transformation to hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a precursor to PET analogue polyethylene furanoate (PEF)
  • Textile waste (cotton/polyester blend) recycling to rPET and bio-products, e.g. glucose, biosurfactants

Potential applications may include other food waste streams.

Customer Benefits

Through the combination of existing industrial technologies, various food waste streams can be converted into a range of high value products, via resource and environmentally friendly routes.

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