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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R023948/1
Title: A predictive tool for bio-based chemical extraction
Principal Investigator: Binner, Dr E R
Other Investigators:
Farcot, Dr E
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Biorenewables Development Centre
Department: Faculty of Engineering
Organisation: University of Nottingham
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 June 2018 Ends: 31 May 2021 Value (£): 155,765
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Bioprocess Engineering Design of Process systems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Dec 2017 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 6 December 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This project will address a major challenge in the development of new products such as cancer treatment drugs and prebiotics by enabling the scalable extraction of "hairy" pectins from food processing wastes (more correctly termed co-products) for the first time. Food processing co-products are currently used for low value applications such as animal feed or sent to landfill, which results in the third largest contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. Development of these new products from food processing wastes could therefore improve health, add value to agricultural products and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Current pectin extraction methods are unsuitable for hairy pectin extraction as the acid that is used as a solvent in the process damages the hairy pectin structures, and therefore a new method must be developed. Using microwaves as the heating source during pectin extraction may lead to the ability to extract hairy pectins at scale using milder solvents such as water. However, the quality and yield of the pectin extracted is a complex function of the source plant material, the solvent used, temperature and time as well as heating method, and there is currently very little fundamental understanding of the influence of all of these factors or their interdependence. To address this challenge, the work proposed will develop a tool to predict hairy pectin extraction yield and composition as a function of the feedstock, extraction conditions and heating method (microwave or conventional heating). This tool will be used to select a suitable UK food industry co-product for hairy pectin extraction and propose a design for a novel extraction process. A preliminary assessment of the operating and capital costs, the environmental footprint and the safety issues associated with the proposed design will be made. By the end of the project, a consortium of industrial and academic partners will be assembled for the next stage of development, which will be to build a rig capable of producing kilogram-quantities of hairy pectins and test them in human trials to assess their potential uses (e.g in cancer treatment or as prebiotics to improve gut health). Human trials are currently not possible as sufficient quantities of hairy pectin cannot be extracted, and this project could therefore lead to significant impacts on health and make a major contribution to the effort to bring these products to market.

The modelling tool to be developed is intended to be applicable in the future to other biorefinery unit operations. Reducing reliance on petrochemicals by developing technologies to generate the pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fuels we need from biological sources, waste products in particular, is a priority of many researchers and companies worldwide. The fundamental understanding of biomass processing that will come out of this project will support this goal, enabling the production of a wide range of beneficial biochemicals using sustainable processes.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk