Functionalized carbohydrates for replacement fossil-based ingredients
Sugar beet pulp is a by-product obtained during the production of sugar from sugar beet and is one of the most important side streams in the Netherlands. Annually, Cosun produces over 2 million tonnes of sugar; coproducing more than one million tonnes of sugar beet pulp. Sugar beet pulp is currently only used for low value applications such as biogas production. Sugar beet pulp consists of a cellulose and a pectin rich fraction. Cosun is close to the first market introduction of products based upon the cellulose fraction. For the total use concept of sugar beet pulp the aim of this project is the valorisation and application of the low cost uronic acid (pectin) rich side stream from sugar beet pulp. The pectin rich stream will be used for replacement of fossil based ingredients by fossil free ingredients in non-food end products. To enlarge the application of this pectin rich stream as ingredient new application areas have to be developed. In addition functionalization of the carbohydrates in order to modify their properties, such as hydrophobization is needed to further enlarge their application potential. Thus, the whole chain from resource to end applications has to be taken into account for maximal exploitation of the uronic acid rich side stream from sugar beet pulp.
In the previous TKI-project AF-17024, Non-food applications of carbohydrates from sugar beet biorefinery, it was shown that uronic acid rich (pectin) side streams of beet pulp could be produced by extraction and (enzymatic) hydrolysis on pilot (>100 kg) scale and that further upscaling is feasible. In addition, it was found that these type of pectins are excellent biological-based retanning chemicals for the leather industry and can be used in automatic dishwash formulations. However, the market perspective of pectin needed for these applications is not large enough to bring the complete uronic acid rich stream to the market and justify investment in large scale production. Thus, to increase the total use of this stream of (novel) products, first of all development of new precompetitive technology is needed by screening different pectin derived products on basic physical and application properties. This ultimately will result into the portfolio expansion that is needed in different application areas to strengthen the business case for these products. For this purpose, together with the partners, different scenarios are formulated, including modification of the pectin rich stream from beet pulp.
The project contributes to Mission A3 re-use organic side and residual streams. It deals with biorefinery and total valorization studies. In addition the end-users would like to replace their fossil based ingredients by fossil free ingredients in non-food end products. The whole chain from resource to end applications is taken into account for maximal exploitation of a side stream.
The subject of the project is the design of robust system solutions for new raw materials for multiple valorization and total use. Here, we focus on the total valorization of sugar beet and especially the uronic acid (pectin) rich side stream in sugar beet pulp. The sugar beet pulp is currently only used for low value applications such as biogas production. For current and future economic production of sugar and other sweeteners, valorization of its by-products (sugar beet pulp, leaves) is mandatory for a future economic profitability of sugar beet biorefinery operations. For the (end) user partners in the consortium: they are eager to replace fossil based ingredients in their products by fossil-free ingredients with unique properties. The driving forces here are biodegradability, less or no toxicity, biobased origin of materials and the same or improved functionality.
The main objective is the valorization of the pectin rich stream that will be used for replacement of fossil based ingredients by fossil free ingredients in non-food applications. Therefore, the pectin rich stream will be chemically/enzymatically modified. This involves for example the introduction of functional groups. These products will be tested in model systems. The most promising synthesized carbohydrates will be further optimized, this includes both the synthesis reaction as well as functionality. Next step is that protocols will be designed how to synthesize these products at larger scale for end applications.
Every six months there will be a progress meeting between the partners. Next to informal meetings to discuss the outcome of the experiments.