Have you ever thought that a solution to our plastic problem could come from wastewater? With the Interreg North-West Europe project WOW!, that’s exactly what’s happening! Wastewater often contains sugars, fatty acids, and starch that can be converted into PHA bioplastic by bacteria. WOW! has previously demonstrated the possibility of producing PHA based on sewage, and this time, the focus was on residual streams from food processing industries. To showcase the material’s potential, prototypes of products with the added value of rapid biological degradation have been created, such as a fishing float and a mudguard for MTB bikes. How do we go from a residual stream to a product? That’s what we covered in a Whitepaper.
In recent years, MNEXT has collaborated extensively with partners from Germany, Finland, and Ireland in the field of PHA from aqueous residual streams. It’s time to share the results!
Textures and Challenges
The whitepaper is a result of the WOW! project and provides valuable insights into the production, applications, circularity, and logistical challenges of PHA, derived from the residual streams of a beer brewery and fruit juice manufacturer. Mithyzi Andrade Leal, one of the researchers at MNEXT, notes, “My research primarily focused on the production and extraction of PHA. The different residual streams ultimately resulted in PHA with varying characteristics. Brewery-derived PHA has a flexible texture, while Fruit-derived PHA is much more brittle.” We are proud of the results of the project, but, of course, we’re not done yet. There is still a journey ahead before fishing floats made from residual streams hit the store shelves. Jappe de Best, Lector at MNEXT and project leader of WOW!, says, “While large-scale production is possible, there are still challenges. Optimization and prediction of the (quality of) PHA production, defining applications, and conveying the story to a broader audience are crucial steps. We are open to collaboration and new ideas to ensure the long-term success of PHA.”
Join In: Shape the Future of PHA
Production If you’d like to contribute to a greener future and have ideas on how to overcome these challenges, feel free to contact us. Your input can be essential for the success of large-scale PHA production. This whitepaper is part of the WOW! project. In this project, we not only explored PHA but also other possibilities for valorizing wastewater. To learn more, check out the website of the WOW! project and discover more about this innovative initiative.