From agricultural waste to marketable products
Agricultural waste represents a huge pool of untapped resources that can be turned into valuable assets with many potential industrial applications. An EU-funded project is looking for innovative approaches to convert the growing amount of human-produced agricultural waste into eco-efficient, bio-based products.
© Željko Radojko #257395049, source: stock.adobe.com 2019
Agricultural residues such as straw, winery waste or manure can be recovered and converted into fertiliser, energy, materials and molecules offering both economic and environmental benefits.
The EU-funded NOAW project is developing more efficient processes for turning agricultural waste into marketable bio-based products. Researchers are seeking to improve existing and widely used waste-conversion methods. They are also working towards breakthroughs in agro-waste molecular science, with a view towards developing more robust, more effective and eco-friendly waste-conversion processes.
The ultimate aim is to develop a set of processes that, when implemented in a specific sequence, can achieve virtually full conversion of agro-waste. The resulting outputs are a collection of high-added-value bio-fertilisers, bio-chemicals, bio-energy sources and material building blocks. Together, they can replace a significant range of non-renewable equivalents.
A holistic, life-cycle-based approach encompassing the full chain of agricultural production, waste disposal and waste conversion is fundamental to the NOAW project. A key step for the project is the creation of innovative software-based assessment tools for closed-loop agro-waste management.
The new tools allow agriculturists to develop complete and coherent waste management strategies. These can include new processes and process sequences that take into account many variables, such as the full and diverse range of European regional and seasonal specificities.
Throughout the project, exchange of knowledge and data among a broad community of agro-scientists is being supported through the Knowledge Exchange Stakeholders Platform. The NOAW project team is also working with cross-sector business clusters. They are gathering insights into the potential for new business concepts that could help to accelerate the uptake of NOAW strategies within agriculture.