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Projects to extract valuable natural chemicals from agricultural waste

Research is underway on two projects to extract natural chemicals from agricultural wastes.

Green technology specialist Advanced Extraction Technology (AET) has started work on a new source for biofuels with the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) at the York science park.

AET will use super-heated water technology to convert agricultural waste material into a potential raw material (feedstock) for bio-fuel production.

BDC staff then aim to turn the material into a bio-fuel.

Dr Fabien Deswarte, business development unit manager at the BDC, said: “Exploring this type of reuse or waste valorisation is of great importance, particularly as it offers an alternative source of biofuel to food crops, which is a hot topic of debate and concern.”

AET are working with the Green Chemistry Centre for Excellence (GGCE) at York University on a second project to extract potentially valuable polyphenols (used for anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories) from citrus waste.

Citrus waste is available in large quantities, for example from the juicing industry, but has little commercial value at present, according to AET.

Professor James Clark, Director of the GCCE said: “we are not only finding high-value applications for natural chemicals derived from wastes, but we are also applying ‘green chemistry’ to do this, i.e. not using hazardous chemicals and applying simple, environmentally benign technologies.”

Both projects have been funded through the European Regional Development Fund, which is available to SMEs in Yorkshire and Humber.

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