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Separation, fractionation and isolation of biologically active natural substances from corn oil and other side streams

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EXCornsEED (Separation, fractionation and isolation of biologically active natural substances from corn oil and other side streams)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2020-11-30

EXCornsEED aims to exploit the convergence between science, chemistry, biology, engineering and biotechnology tools for the creation of new knowledge and innovative applications, with the main goal to develop and validate an integrated process of innovative and highly sustainable extraction/purification/concentration technologies to be applied to bio-refineries side streams (i.e. corn oil from bio-ethanol and rapeseed meal from biodiesel production) for the recovery of proteins and several other bio-active compounds (i.e. peptides, polyphenols, amino acids, fibres, lipid compounds, alkaloids and tannins, etc.) and characterization/preparation of these as ingredients for food, detergents and cosmetics markets. The production of added-value bio-based products from these side streams, following the emerging EU paradigms of integrated biorefinery and circular economy, will maximize full biomass-to-products value along the whole value chain, making the production costs of biofuels competitive without any governmental support. The project objectives are the following:
-To assess industrial side streams and coproducts of two biotech processes (bioethanol and biodiesel production), characterizing the quality and amount of extractable compounds
-To develop, upscale and validate an innovative and environmentally friendly process to extract/purify/concentrate proteins and bioactive compounds from industry side streams
-To test and validate the application of the extracted compounds as ingredients in food, detergents and cosmetics
-To assess the environmental sustainability, technical performances, cost-benefits of technological solutions and final products, as well as preindustrial feasibility
-To evaluate the business potential of the proposed innovative approach and build solid business cases for the exploitation of the project’s results
-To raise awareness, engage stakeholders and build a robust network around the project’s results through a well-designed dissemination & communication strategy and activities.
-Monitoring of the specific parameters of two provided side streams to guarantee the required quality specification of rapeseed meal and corn oil side stream for biodiesel production. Dry matter, proteins, fibers, fat, ash/sand content in rapeseed meal were measured over a statistical distribution of samples. In the case of corn oil, moisture/water content, acid value, amounts of phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium were analyzed and classified for a final assessment of sample variability. More specific parameters were evaluated to ensure the sustainable constant conditions of side streams, for development of specific extraction and isolation processes. A selection of target compounds was thus obtained in the framework of complete and detailed analytical chemistry procedures on the 2 side streams. In parallel, the presence and bioactivity of phenolics and flavonoids was assessed in all two feedstocks. In particular, antioxidant properties and enzyme inhibition characteristics were measured in parallel in different laboratories in order to minimize possible biases.
-A full downstreaming process for protein isolation from rapeseed meal was developed and scaled up to the pilot level. The ingredients separated from corn oil and RSM were further macro-formulated. Thus, end-user partners investigated the potential applicability in the target markets food, cosmetic and detergents.
-A sustainability assessment methodology to support project partners in decision making along the whole technology upgrade process was developed. Regulation and standards related work was advanced as well.
-The stakeholders mapping and market analyses were successfully performed by EXCornsEED partners identifying the most relevant stakeholders. The conducted market analyses have identified the most promising markets, potential customers and competitors in field of rapeseed proteins.
-The objectives and progress of the EXCornsEED project were disseminated promoting the project achievements online through the social channels, the official website, the partners’ corporate website and the participation to online events.
EXCornsEED reflects the BIC’s ambitions to contribute to the society’s long-term sustainability. EXCornsEED will accomplish the following KPIs from the BBI programme:
-To create at least 1 new cross-sector interconnection in bio-based economy clusters
-To set the basis for at least 1 new bio-based value chain, 2 different ingredients or additives with purity levels that enable their use in different application fields, further development of new or optimized value chains based on residual streams from the food or feed industry, agricultural activities or biorefineries
-To obtain an overall reduction of at least 10 % in the carbon footprint of the considered bio-based operation compared with the state-of-the-art.
Other impacts will be:
-Innovation capacity: The innovative process for side streams valorisation is the result of the combination of breakthrough innovations in raw material preparation, compounds extraction and ingredients purification, through the concerted collaboration among top players of the EU scientific community and industry with a sound multidisciplinary and inter-sectorial approach. Important advancements will be achieved in important knowledge areas related to extraction/purification/concentration technologies and their integration/upscale, identification and characterization of bioactive compounds, side streams and by-products analysis, combined reaction processes, techno-economic analysis of industrial process with particular focus on combined effects at different levels (process intensification and optimisation), market-monitoring and integrated-processanalysis.
-New market opportunities: The innovative side streams valorisation process implemented through this project, as well as the set of compounds and ingredients targeted will strengthen the competitiveness and growth of EU companies in the new “Green Revolution”. The project will impact biofuels and agro-food industries as well as the cosmetics, food, and specialty chemicals industries involving them in a totally innovative value chain (i.e. side streams providers, technology providers, plant owners, downstream product transformers). EXCornsEED will offer a solution for reducing the use of feedstock for biofuels and agro-food industries at the same time valorising the feedstock side streams and enabling the transformation of European traditional biotech productions into integrated near-zero waste biorefineries.
-Bring benefits for society: EXCornsEED will contribute to a better implementation of the main EU strategic policies and Directives for environmental protection and transition to a green, low-carbon, energy and resource-efficient economy.