Circular-Bio Annual Conference – Building bridges beyond borders

More than 80 participants came together on-line and on-site to join the . During the conference, they discussed which material flows are available in the cross-border region along the German-Dutch border, which innovative valorisation concepts are being developed, and which product ideas are being promoted right now.

In sessions on the topics Future Fuels, Healthy Building, Food & Feed Solutions and Utilisation of Residual Material Streams from Horticulture, innovative approaches were presented and possible solutions for existing issues were discussed. Sarah Refai led through a day of interesting talks and in-depth discussions.

After a short presentation about the goals and contents of the Circular-Bio project by Dennis Herzberg, Timo Johannes Koch from Savanna Ingredients / Pfeifer & Langen gave a comprehensive keynote on scale-up challenges in the food industry. He described the challenges Savanna faced when scaling up the production process of Allulose, an alternative sugar. He underlined the importance of demonstrating the process in a continuous production environment. But at the same time, approval processes and application development need to be performed – synchronising these three processes can be challenging. The second keynote was given by Theo Verleun, who talked about opportunities and hurdles to incorporate insects in our food. Insect Valley Europe tries to build a network to establish a helpdesk for entrepreneurs active in this exciting field. He emphasized the importance of developing the whole value chain from feedstock supply and storage, over larvae productions and automations systems, the pre- and post-processing, as well as regulatory aspects. Although complex issues still lay ahead, he was sure that insect (ingredients) will become a part of our diet.

The session on “Turning healthy and sustainable – Transformations in the Building Industry” presented innovative approaches for biobased materials in the construction industry. Steffen Witzleben from Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University showed the huge demand for climate friendly solutions in the building sector, but also underlined the manifold requirements e.g., for structural stability, fire and water resistance and longevity. Jeoffrey van den Berg (NewFoss) showed the potential of grass fibres for insulation panels and how the company scaled-up the manufacturing process together with partners. Julia Krayer and Lina Vieres presented the developments done by Fraunhofer UMSICHT in the field of fungi-based products that can be moulded or even 3D-printed.

“Moving forward -Innovations in Fuels” was the topic of the third session. It remains a competitive market, in which fuel properties and standards play a pivotal rule, like Klaus Lucka from the company TEC4FUELS explained. Dina Genzink represented Q1 Energie, which is one of the largest petrol station operators in Germany. She gave an overview on the projects in bio-LNG as well as e-fuels, Q1 is active in. Horst Mayran (Agrihumin) showed that even sewage sludge might be a feedstock for the production of fuels in the form of biogas and bio-coal.

The final session centred around the utilisation of residual material from Horticulture. Giulia Viero from ECOR focused on using fibres from residue streams to produce different kinds of cardboards, e.g. for furniture or wall coverings. In contrast, Hans Derksen (Biorefinery Solutions) showed how high-value food-grade ingredients can be produced from agri-food side streams. BRS is producing functional ingredients for e.g. food supplements or vegan products from cabbage leafs or onion peels. An interactive discussion with Giulia Viero, Hans Derksen and Pim Deuling (Bluehub/Platform Tuinbouwreststromen), moderated by Patrick Lemmens closed this session and the conference day. The on-line participants gathered on wonder, while on-site attendees enjoyed some snacks and drinks during continued discussions on the manifold topics of the day. We are looking forward to the next Circular-Bio events in 2022, that hopefully can also happen as hybrid events.