To reduce the carbon footprint and reliance on limited stocks of fossil fuel based resources, a transition towards a biobased economy is foreseen. Such a biobased economy preferably uses resources that currently go to waste, rather than having to grow specific crops to produce sufficient biobased resources. After all, the amount of fertile, readily available land suitable for growing crops is limited and growing additional crops would either threaten nature or potentially cause food shortages caused by displacement of food crops.

Even better would be if residual flows could be upgraded into food ingredients. The Netherlands is known for its large number of food processing plants, ranging from potato processing plants to breweries and their number is still increasing. The processing of food often results in side streams with high moisture contents. The combination of being processed and wet nature of these streams makes them highly perishable. In the best case these wet sidestreams can be transported to nearby farmers, but since the number of farm animals in the Netherlands is decreasing, a small, but growing share is now processed in digesters, sacrificing their nutritional value for a bit of biogas. If dried, these by-products could be converted into food ingredients or animal fodder/ petfood. Regular dryers require too much high grade energy to make this drying step economically feasible.
That is the reason that we have been developing a novel dryer suitable for low temperature residual heat (50-90C) that allows on-site drying using often readily available and affordable residual heat from the food processing plant. This eliminates transportation costs and spoilage, preserving optimum resource value.

Furthermore, plenty of biobased residual flows are currently used in low grade applications. For instance, in the Netherlands, annually 2.9 million tonnes of agricultural- and landscaping waste are converted into compost. Industrial composting is an energy intensive process that emits strong greenhouse gasses such as methane into the atmosphere. By drying these residual flows, for instance using low grade residual heat from a composting facility, they can be converted into biobased materials such as paper, wood replacing boards or building insulation. Doing so, we’re replacing wood-based and petrol based products with their own CO2 footprint whilst avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of composting.