Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research developed an exciting new technology to isolate sugars, amino acids and organic acids from aqueous streams. This new technology is based on an anti-solvent crystallisation and can be applied to various raw materials. Anti-solvent crystallisation technology is an energy-efficient and cost-effective way to isolate valuable components in complex mixtures. Wageningen UR is currently looking for partners in developing this technology further through new projects in the field of residual sugar flows, proteins and organic acids such as residual agro-food flows, black liquor and industrial residues.
Raw materials and residues such as sugar beets and dairy products contain valuable sugars, amino acids and organic acids. As the raw materials are very complex separation processes of the components of interest are very often too expensive and require energy.
Efficient local processing
In the sugar case, developed by Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research, an anti-solvent is added to the aqueous mixture to make the sugars less soluble. The water volume is then reduced by siphoning off the water, which creates insoluble crystals. This new technology makes local processing possible, which in turn reduces transport and residue processing costs. The process can be implemented on a larger scale to remove impurities like carbonation and to replace the centrifugation step with a more energy-efficient filtration step.
Successful small-scale testing facility
In addition to developing new processes, Food & Biobased Research is working with IPSS Engineering on the further upscaling of this technology. IPSS plays an important role in engineering and building the initial testing facility, which will be followed at a later stage by industrial installations. A detailed business case was developed for sugar crystallisation, which demonstrated that a small-scale testing facility at a farm and would be able to process 300 hectares of sugar beets within the standard fifteen-week growing season. In addition to creating a new source of income, farmers will also benefit from the fact that the soil, water, foliage and most of the minerals will remain on their land. Theis technology has received much interest in of arable farming cooperatives (or cooperations??) in the Netherlands and abroad, from France and Germany to Canada. Construction of the test facility is expected to start in 2016 and will serve as a large-scale R&D facility.
A major advantage of crystallisation technology is that it can be developed on a small scale with manageable investments. It also allows for small-scale testing at minimal risks.
Wanted: partners interested in capitalising on new opportunities
This new technology can be used for various raw materials. Suitable processing candidates include sugars from beet juice or DLP, amino acids from protomylasse and other thickened waste flows or organic acids from the pulp of fruit juices and verge grass. Food & Biobased Research is looking for new partners interested in capitalising on these opportunities. Food and Biobased research hopes to find parties in the food industry and farmers' organisations, pulp producers, including the paper industry and partners in the chemical sector. Both potential raw material suppliers, parties interested in technological development or pure end products – such as different sugars, oligomers, amino acids and organic acids – can make a valuable contribution to the development of projects.
Co-financing pilot projects
Together with a dozen industrial partners, Food & Biobased Research submitted a four-year PPP proposal with the agro-food top sector. This proposal focuses on new proofs of concept for processing of different raw materials and the further development and optimisation of the sugar extraction process, which includes sucrose, fructose, glucose, arabinose, rhamnose, xylose and oligomers, as well as organic acids, amino acids and hydroxy acids.
Registration closes on 12 September
Interested parties can contact Food & Biobased Research until 12 September.