Bioeconomy, how to reuse biorefinery by-products
The reuse of wastes and by-products generated by biofuel production is the objective of EXCornsEED, a European project recently launched, coordinated by Sapienza University of Rome.
The project is funded with over 4.2 million euro by the BBI Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking: a public-private partnership between the European Commission and the leading European industries active in the bioeconomy sector. The project involves 13 partners from 8 European countries, coordinated by Sapienza University of Rome.
The target of researchers is biorefineries: industrial plants where biomass, including corn and rapeseed, is processed to produce fuels to be used in the energy field, such as bioethanol and biodiesel, generating by-products which have the potential to create value.
“Our role will be to identify new potentials for intermediate by-products, as well as for the waste itself and to obtain basic molecules for subsequent chemical processes and formulations of food and cosmetic products”, explained Giancarlo Fabrizi, the scientific coordinator of the project and professor of organic chemistry.
Specifically, the researchers intend to develop new fractionation technologies and procedures from which to obtain compounds to be included in the production cycle of the cosmetic and food industries, valorizing what would otherwise become a simple fertilizer.
To this end, the researchers will integrate different skills: from chemistry to biology, from engineering to biotechnology. In particular, they will develop and validate sustainable technologies to extract, from products used in biorefineries, proteins and other bioactive compounds for future use in food, chemical and cosmetic products.
“It is the so-called third generation of biorefineries, the one that is not satisfied with using biomass but that reflects sustainability especially in the large variety of outputs and in the valorization of intermediate by-products and wastes from industrial production processes. To this end, the EXCornsEED project, funded under the EU Horizon 2020 programme, is in line with the bioeconomy strategy pursued and reaffirmed by the European Union, as well as with the new concept of circular economy”, concluded Fabrizi.