Periodic Reporting for period 2 - iFermenter (iFERMENTER - CONVERSION OF FORESTRY SUGAR RESIDUALSTREAMS TO ANTIMICROBIAL PROTEINS BY INTELLIGENTFERMENTATION)
Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-04-30
Being able to convert these large amounts of residual sugars (over 14 MT/y in EU alone) will obviously have great economical, and environmental benefits for the society. Instead of using sugars that originate from food, such as corn starch, sugar beet and sugar canes for the fermentation of chemicals, it is desirable to use sugars originating from industrial processes such as the pulp industry, that anyway produce cellulose. It will increase job opportunities, will strengthen the economy, and may help to change the demography of agriculture, from sugars to microbial fermentation to growing food for people.
The overall objective is to be able to utilize these sugar streams that contain inhibitors and complex sugar mixtures that are currently unsuitable for microbial fermentation of high value chemicals. In addition, we intend to exploit these sugars to produce high value (>100 USD/kg) compounds that have great benefits in medicine, and are valuable as food and feed additives.
To summarize, our main results include
1) strains that consume residual sugar streams (novelty)
2) strains that can tolerate large amount of the residual streams in fermentation
3) strains that produce one type of antimicrobial (novelty)
4) New digital fermentation technology.
The potential impact is obvious:
Environmentally, it will promote the full exploitation of sugars that are currently incinerated or used to produce low value compounds. We will show by LCA studies that our process with our strains reduces at least 20% of the carbon emission compared to the state of the art process to produce the same compounds in the industry. Moreover: today’s processes use glucose-like sugars that originate in food, such as corn starch and sugar canes, while our process will exploit industrial sugars byproducts that cannot be consumed by humans or animals.
Economically, the project will contribute to circular economy, because of the exploitation of the residual streams (Figure below). It will add value chain to the pulp industry, that will have the opportunity to exploit the process and produce high value compounds, adding to their existing processes (production of the low value ethanol). If they choose not to produce themselves, they will be able to sell their sugars (that are not currently sold) to companies that are interested in our advance and effective fermentation process that relies on these sugars. The project (our strains + our technology) will interconnect companies that are traditionally not have mutual commercial interest, and may create at least two novel value chains: Pulp industry to medicine, pulp industry to food and feed industries.
For the European society and jobs creation: Because we also develop digital technologies in addition to biotechnology (we actually integrate the two fields), we will create a process that we will exploit by later upscaling and developing a demo plant (after application for funding). This will enable the European fine chemical industry to compete with the low-cost production of antimicrobials and other high value compounds (e.g. vitamins, food additives and cosmetics) in China and other countries in the far-east. It will enable them to produce larger quantities of better quality products that will be manufactured in Europe. With other words, we expect our high efficient technology that enables the production of high quality compounds to outcompete the low-cost labor that is possible in the far-east, therefore creating high skilled jobs in the EU and export of high quality products.