Periodic Reporting for period 3 - FUNGUSCHAIN (Valorisation of mushroom agrowastes to obtain high value products)
Reporting period: 2020-03-01 to 2021-04-30
1. Demonstration of an integrated cascading approach process with more than 40% valorisation of mushroom cultivation residues into high-value bio-based products.
2. Industrial validation and demonstration of the extracted biomolecules into high value products.
3. Improvement of the competitiveness of European enterprises and the acceptance of the developed products, with particular interest in local entrepreneurship and the development of rural areas.
To meet the second objective, end-users were to validate the extracted biomolecules by introducing them in selected products within their own commercial portfolio to demonstrate the functionality and improvements over the current non-bio-based counterparts. The end-products were mainly focused on additives for food, protein-enhanced powders, functional foods, industrial film and cosmetics products. The DEMO lines developed during the project enabled the production of the selected high added value additives and end-products for the initial exploitation by project partners. A technical and economic viability study for the necessary investment in building and setting up pilot-plants and modifications of current industrial lines has been carried out. Using the integrated and flexible efforts of all partners the complex cascading process and the challenge to generate profitable products have been tackled in an agile and proactive manner. This has led to a range of innovative product lines, all contributing to meeting this objective. A selection of processes and products was made and investments by Monaghan Mushrooms to generate an operational commercially attractive biorefinery, allowing the operational integrated production of multiple high value bio-based products.
FUNGUSCHAIN demonstrated that extraction of valuable biomolecules before more low value applications provides interesting options for valorisation of valuable natural products. This often can best be carried out with relatively fresh biomass present at a local and relatively small scale, promoting new innovative bio-based enterprises in rural areas. Nevertheless, there are a number of issues in the natural-products market directly related to its lack of maturity. Production is not enough in certain cases and it can heavily limit the market growth, while on the other hand underutilisation leads to accumulation of waste. This requires tailored solutions, as developed in FUNGUSCHAIN in the context of objective 3. Reintroducing agricultural residues into a circular economy by using novel methods to identify valuable ingredients and environmentally-friendly extraction procedures, that are easily scalable and deployed by SMEs and local industries characterises the FUNGUSCHAIN approach. There is a huge potential of market penetration since the number of potential applications of biomaterials obtained from agro-residues is enormous. Therefore we aimed to provide an incentive to change this situation and promote innovation and development in rural areas, also aiming (i) to improve citizen’s health; (ii) to boost the productivity of agriculture revenues and further industrial processes; (iii) to enhance environmental sustainability and safety to ensure acceptance of novel bio-based products. We have shown produced different types of bioplastics, biodegradable and recyclable ones, with different applications in a circular economy. We improved environmental impact, by avoiding chemical extraction and reducing energy needs. We designed and applied a novel rapid human cell-based safety assessment tool for complex bio-based undefined compound mixtures, showing no safety issues of cascade fractions and products tested. We have designed profitably products without waste streams, and innovative product options of which cascade residues can be used for biogas and compost production, and full circularity. To promote local entrepreneurship and further development of the rural area in the northern part of Ireland, Monaghan has invested not only in the advanced biorefinery, and in addition a very significant investment was made a novel innovation canter to further support this ambition. The location of this center will be adjacent to the biorefinery.