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Functional additives from residues from the agro-food industry

Specific challenge:Residues from the agro-food industry (e.g. beet pulp, potato pulp, brewer’s spent grain) are currently being utilised as feed, while having significant opportunities for further valorisation in new applications and markets. Given that many of the high added value components in these residues are present in small amounts, their cost-effective production requires the development of cascading concepts that fully valorises all components of the side stream. While various technologies to fractionate and convert the raw material into a high added value functional additives are available (though at different level of maturity), the main challenge is to integrate the different parts of the process into a functioning demonstration chain that meets the requirements for their production in terms of costs and environmental impact.

Scope: Demonstrate the techno-economic viability of the production of high added value functional additives (e.g. emulsifiers, plasticisers, anti-scaling, for e.g. detergents, food, personal care cosmetics, paints and coatings) from a side stream of the agro food industry (e.g. beet pulp, potato pulp, beer fines), building where possible on existing infrastructure. Research challenges relate to the demonstration and integration of pre-treatment, extraction and purification technologies, (bio)chemical conversion technologies and downstream processes in a cascading and integrated concept for the cost-effective and sustainable production of high value functional additives. Safety, quality and purity of the end products should meet commercial requirements. The feasibility of integrating the proposed concept into existing industrial processing chains should be assessed. Proposals should foresee an engineering study for the scale up of the proposed concept into industrial scale. A life-cycle assessment should be carried out in order to evaluate safety, as well the environmental and socio-economic performance of the developed products. Proposals should also demonstrate that they can economically access a sufficient quantity of raw material to set up the new supply chain. Involvement of end-users is required assuring the viability of the developed concepts in the value chain.

It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of at least EUR 8 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.

Expected impact:

         Demonstrating a complete new value chain with higher added value products for new markets, produced from a residue from the agro-food industry.

         Improving of environmental impact and cost efficiency of resulting products as compared to state of the art benchmarks.

         Integrating a process with more than 40% of the agro-food side stream to be valorized to high added value additives.

Demonstrating of products with a 5 times higher value than the current applications of the side stream, leading to a significantly higher total valorisation of the agricultural crops, thus improving the competitive position of food crops and contributing to rural developments and growth of jobs in rural areas.