The beer brewing industry generates large amounts of brewers spent grain (BSG). In the Netherlands alone the total production of this side stream, containing up to 30% protein, is 0.5 million tonnes annually. BSG is currently used as low-value animal feed, while having potential in the food market, and is therefore underutilised. Upgrading BSG to the food market will therefore significantly contribute to prevent future protein shortage.
Additionally, the world faces climate changes. This requires reduction of CO2 emissions, or rather, reducing the environmental foot print of food production chains. The aim of this project is to sustainably increase the value of BSG by isolating and valorising its protein content into valuable food ingredients, leaving the process residue for lower value feed applications. To this end, project partners propose an integrated, highly efficient biorefinery approach to valorise this side stream. Isolation of protein from BSG, purification of this protein and application of extracted protein in new food concepts have all been assessed in separate studies. This project will develop the extraction and purification technology with protein application in food concepts as starting point. In a stepwise iterative approach, consisting of four phases, this project will ensure that the isolation and purification will be tailored to supply protein with optimal properties for applications in food products for human consumption. This approach comprises a techno-economic analysis and a life cycle analysis approach underlining the importance of an integrated consideration.
The envisioned tangible result of this project is the experimental demonstration of a fully developed and complete pretreatment, extraction and purification process of protein from BSG that can successfully supply protein of desired properties for demonstrated application in novel food concepts. This result will serve multiple purposes. It is estimated that the value of extracted and purified protein will increase by a factor 7, increasing the value of the total BSG products on the Dutch market from roughly 13 to 86 million euro. Solid insights in the relation between protein extraction and purification on one hand and protein functionalities on the other hand are key for successful application in food. Successful extraction and application will contribute to an increased protein supply worldwide. Finally this new protein supply could reduce the ecological footprint as import of e.g. soy could be partly prevented.