Work packages

The AgriLoop European and Chinese project strategy is focused around collaboration and partnership. Working together the project partners will eco-efficiently upgrade under-exploited agricultural residues into a portfolio of high added-value bio-products able to generate new bio-based markets or to compete with, and gain market share of, oil- and food crops- based equivalents.

Work package descriptions

The key contact for each work package can be found here.

Work package 1: Foundational circular & strategic flows

European Leader Dr Jan Broeze, Wageningen University & Research and Deputy Leader Professor Miguel Mauricio Iglesias, The University of Santiago de Compostela

Chinese Leader Dr Gang Li, Beijing Technology and Business University

This work package develops tools and data for early assessment of innovative circular valorisation of agri-residues for proteins and biopolymers. For that, it estimates volumes of agri-residues generated in the European Union and China and also their composition. Based on insights in processing steps, some developed in technological work packages of AgriLoop, this work package identifies optimal processing pathways and heuristics for estimating yields to proteins and biopolymers. This work is combined with quantitatively estimating hazards and sustainability effect of the circular pathways. In combination with stakeholder preference analysis, this work contributes to prioritising and quantitatively assessing new options of valorising agri-residues as underexploited resources for protein and biopolymer production.

Work package 2: Upstream proteins & chemicals recovery

European Leader Professor Annalisa Tassoni, University of Bologna and Deputy Leader Professor Cristina Silva Pereira, ITQB NOVA, Lisbon

Chinese Leader Dr Hui Hu, Institute of Food Science and Technology, CAAS

This work package will be based on Safe and Sustainable by Design guidance (WP1) and upscaling WP4 (EU) and WP3.01/3.02 (CN) targets aiming at carrying out an integration between technology and industrial application.

Work will carried out; (1). The WP2 on both European and Chinese sides will develop a wide array of integrated flexible green pre-treatments and upscalable extraction processes from selected agro-industrial organic by-products and waste (e.g. tomato, grape and apple pomace, brewery spent grain, peanut and potato processing residues) to obtain added-value biochemicals namely proteins (EU/CN), plant polyesters (EU), polyphenols, among which resveratrol (EU/CN), carotenoids (EU), polysaccharides and pectines (CN) with targeted structures/functionalities (2). The extracts will be characterised for their chemical, physical, biological properties leading to a knowledge-based clarification of the correlation mechanism between the structural characteristics of food components and their biological functional activities. The potential industrial applications will be also identified (i.e. food, feed, packaging) (3). Predictive data-driven models on structure / functionality relationships and a data library for optimal extraction design, will be built.

Work package 3: Microbial conversion

European Leader Professor Maria Reis, NOVA University of Lisbon and Deputy Leader Professor Ramon Ganigue, Ghent University

Chinese Leader Dr Wei GAO and Professor Zhiyong RUAN, Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, CAAS

  • 3.01 Microbial fermentations for proteins and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) production
  • 3.02 Fertilisers and polyesters

From the European side, this work package will advance and optimise the biological conversion routes of agri-residues into proteins and polyesters, based on targeted and integrated advances that equally weights all critical points of the technology chain i.e. feedstock transformability processes eco-efficiency, end-products quality, circularity. Specifically, novel technologies will be developed for (1) Pre-treating agri-residues such as brewer spent grain, tomato paste and potato peels; (2) producing microbial protein and polyesters, such as polyhydroxyalkanoates;  (3) extracting products by insects, predatory bacteria and supercritical fluids; (4) modelling for process integration and optimization. 

From the Chinese side, this work package will conduct a systematic analysis of characteristic components and preprocessing techniques for typical organic agricultural waste generated in industries such as grain and oil production, soybean processing, and brewing. Utilising preprocessing methods and microbial selection technologies, such as ultrafine grinding and ultrasound-assisted acid extraction, uniformity and standardization of organic agricultural waste will be achieved. Efficient and viable waste treatment methods will be developed to transform the wastes into usable resources. Nutrient components and potentially harmful substances will be systematically analyzed in the aforementioned agricultural waste.

Work package 4: End-products and value chains

European Leader Professor David Bolzonella, University of Verona and Deputy Leader Deputy Leader: Michael Pil, Avecom 

Chinese Leader Dr. Xiaolong Yao, School of Ecology and Environment, Beijing Technology and Business University

This work package will demonstrate in close-to-real environment the best innovative value chains developed in WP2 and WP3, considering WP1 early guidance and feedback. WP4 will utilise agricultural waste for the extraction of valuable compounds like peptides, pigments, polyesters and polyphenols and for the production of bioplastics and microbial protein.

The recovered molecules will be blended to obtain a portfolio of products for the farming sector, with a frugal design mindset. The products will be mulching films, horticultural pots, biopolyester-based blends, multi layers and composites with tailored thermo-mechanical, fertilizing, bactericidal and barrier properties suitable for applications in agricultural and industrial sectors. Microbial protein produced by fermentation from products of agro-waste will be tested as feed in the aquaculture sector. The leftovers from the above production will be digested, nutrients recovered by ultrafiltration and osmosis and used in agriculture as an alternative to chemical fertilisers.

After initial testing at laboratory scale, selected processes for biochemical extraction and production of proteins and bioplastics will be scaled-up in several pilot plants across Europe using innovative cascading biorefinery design.

Beside the technological aspects, the sustainability assessment will also be considered. Environmental, social and economic dimensions of the described value chains will be evaluated in terms of advanced life cycle assessment. A particular focus will be on the safety aspects of the tested products. Partners of WP4 will define a business model for the developed value chains which will be compared to conventional production.

WP4 will be based on the evaluation of data of agricultural organic waste bioconversion technology methods and economic benefits obtained in work package 1 and in conjunction with the pilot application results of these technologies in work package 2, 3 and 4. The following objectives will be accomplished:

(1)  Construct a full biotransformation and low-carbon cycle model of “agricultural waste to food & feed & agricultural materials to agricultural production and processing” on the basis of correlation mechanism and regulation technology.

(2) Complete a comprehensive demonstration of the three types of products mentioned in (1), which is expected to be launched in Junan County, Shandong Province.

(3) Comprehensively evaluate the environmental, economic and social sustainability benefit indicators of the comprehensive demonstration of the full biotransformation and low-carbon cycle model of agricultural organic waste in typical areas, and clarify the biomass flow direction, key component content, value-added level, and other pertinent information.

(4) Develop a comprehensive assessment system for the carbon sequestration function of agricultural waste throughout its entire life cycle and value chain, while establishing a replicable and scalable model for the biotransformation and low-carbon recycling of agricultural organic waste based on this framework.

Work package 5: Communication, dissemination and exploitation

European Leader Emma Needham, Biorenewables Development Centre

Chinese Leader Jinjin Zhu, Institute of Food Science and Technology, CAAS

This work package will (1) Define a strategy to communicate project findings to a large audience and disseminate results to a carefully identified set of stakeholders to favour their exploitation (2) Implement knowledge transfer and training activities to disseminate best practice to farmers and bio-based sector, and policy recommendations (3) Develop and deliver an exploitation plan to optimise effective commercialisation of project outputs.

Work package 6: Coordination and management

European Coordinator Professor Nathalie Gontard, INRAE and Project Manager, Baptiste Dauphin, INRAE Transfert

Chinese Leader Professor Aimin ShI, Institute of Food Science and Technology, CAAS

This work package will (1) Strategically: steer the project to reach its objectives and deliver outputs that generate the expected outcomes (2) Operationally and contractually: set up the procedures and tools so that the project progresses in line with the Grant and Consortium Agreements and that its work plan produces quality results in due time as well as liaison with supporting organization, the Ministry of Science and Technology, P.R.C (3) Administratively: organise project meetings and collaborative work, prepare project reports and ensure efficient internal exchanges among partners.