Cold-adapted biorefinery concept for energy efficient and carbon neutral valorization of waste from food systems (COLDREFINERY)

A transition from over-reliance on fossil-based fuel (e.g. natural gas) and products (e.g. plastic, fossil-based fertilizer) to bio-based production (e.g. biogas, bioplastic) is needed to create a sustainable society.

Since petroleum-based productions in the food system pose a serious threat to the environment and fossil-based agricultural inputs sources are limited, there is the need to develop innovative technologies to produce bioenergy, fertilizer, and materials through a bio-based approach from sustainable sources. Thus, transforming wastes from food systems to value-added bioenergy (e.g. biogas) and bioproducts (e.g. organic fertilizer) that can be used for food production is an important circular economy concept. Bio-based production in cold have required input energy to increase temperature which may not be energy-efficient.

The COLDREFINERY project will devise innovative nature-inspired strategies to increase the efficiency of bio-based production under low temperatures from waste from food system.

In this project, wastes from food system (e.g. food waste, agricultural waste) will be used to produce biogas and volatile fatty acids under cold temperatures as well as recover phosphorus and nitrogen. Producing these agricultural inputs will close energy and material loop for food systems. COLDREFINERY will develop a decision support system by integrating process models, data, and artificial intelligence techniques to create a digital twin as well as a user-friendly software prototype for stakeholders to monitor and control process while exploring potential business models to facilitate the full-scale implementation of this innovative cold-adapted biorefinery concept in the food systems.

Overall, this project will result in the establishment of a novel bio-based production platform based on the valorization of wastes from food systems to recover bioenergy and bioproducts to replace petroleum-based products to help in the transition to fossil-free and sustainable society. The project will design an integrated bio-based production system as energy-efficient and sustainable alternative for the food system to ensure the smooth transition to a sustainable society in the Nordic and Baltic regions as well as the world.