BBI.VC3.D5-2015 - Valorisation of agricultural residues and side streams from the agro-food industry
Agricultural residues and side streams from the agro-food industry are currently underutilised: agricultural residues such as leaves, weeds and grass are often left to rot on the land, releasing nitrogen and phosphorus into the soil, of which only a small fraction is taken up by new plants. At the same time, side streams of fruit, vegetables and crop processing industries are commonly used as feed or fertilisers, while having significant opportunities for further valorisation in new applications and markets. Several technologies exist, at different level of maturity, to fractionate and convert the raw materials into new products: however, building industrially feasible and efficient value chains still requires to overcome the following challenges: (1) In order to be attractive for farmers, the related processes need to be relatively simple so they can be readily deployed locally at farm level or small industrial scale (2) Since many of the higher added value compounds in these residues are present in low amounts, their cost-effective exploitation requires the development of cascading processes able to fully valorise all components of the side streams (3) To achieve new functionalities and application markets for these products in new value chains.
- Demonstration of a complete new value chain leading to higher added value products for new markets.
- Improvement of environmental performance and cost efficiency of resulting products as compared to state of the art benchmarks.
- Demonstration of an integrated process with more than 40% of the raw material to be valorised into high added value additives.
- Demonstration of products with a 2-5 times higher value than the current applications of the raw material, leading to a significantly higher total valorisation of the agricultural crops so contributing to rural development and employment in rural areas.
Demonstrate the techno-economic viability of the valorisation of agricultural residues or side streams of the agro-food industry into valuable bio-products. Proposals should demonstrate an integrated cascading concept including pre-treatment, extraction and separation technologies, as well as chemical and/or biochemical conversion, modification technologies and downstream processing where applicable. Proposals should include measures to achieve operation throughout the whole year, e.g. processes able to handle multiple feedstock types at different times of the year. The feasibility of integrating the proposed concept into existing industrial processing chains should also be considered where applicable. A life-cycle assessment should be carried out in order to evaluate safety, as well as the environmental and socio-economic performances of the developed products. Safety, quality, functionality and purity of the end products should meet legal and commercial requirements. Proposals should include activities to assure economical and sustained access to sufficient raw material to set up the new value chain and proper management of residues and concerns about preservation of soil quality and soil carbon content including respect of residue incorporation/extraction rates based on latest research or expertise. Involvement of end-users is required to ensure the viability of the developed concepts in the value chain. Proposal will assess market demand for the developed products and will consider market pull related activities (e.g. standardisation, consumers’ perception) aimed at facilitating the market uptake of the developed products. The leading role of relevant industrial partners is considered essential to achieve the full impact.
It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of up to EUR 15 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.