Food waste for high value chemicals

Food waste is a vast reservoir of valuable chemicals such as sugars, phenols and waxes. The UK produces around seven million tons of food waste each year much of which goes to landfill producing global warming gases such as methane.

The BDC is building a technology platform to help companies realise the potential of food waste as a source of valuable chemicals. This includes microwave facilities, natural solvent extraction, biocatalysis and clean synthesis, all at scale suitable for industrial testing.

An example of this technology is microwave treatment of orange peel: this can release oils and volatiles such as limonene and terpineol that are used in flavours and fragrances as well as pectin with applications in food and medicines. Further steps can convert these into platform molecules for manufacture of antioxidants, bio-plastics and surface coatings. Other components in the peel have potential to be processed into biofuels.

Read more about how the GCCE is using orange peel.

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