Get updates on COVID-19 research at COVID-19 Resource
Crop Biotech Update

Russian Scientists to Develop Method to Convert Food Waste into Biofuels

November 22, 2017

Recent studies from the United Nations have revealed that about one-third of all food products produced for human consumption are discarded. The total volume of discarded products is 1.3 billion tons per year. With this much waste, a way to utilize discarded food products will be extremely important.

One approach is converting food waste into biofuel, which would carry both environmental and energy benefits. However, these approaches don't solve the food disposal issue since only a part of the waste biomasses is converted to fuel and the leftovers are still disposed.

Scientists from Skoltech and the Russian Academy of Sciences' Joint Institute for High Temperatures have recently proposed converting food waste into biofuel via hydrothermal liquefaction, a process used to turn wet biomass into oil. This method makes it possible to produce biofuel directly from wet biomass. The research team experimented with various types of food waste, including parmesan cheese, ham and apples. They then analyzed the molecular composition of the biofuel produced.

The team found that meat and cheese were converted into a water-soluble fraction and a water-insoluble oil. Apples were only converted into a water-soluble fraction. The composition of the biofuel produced from the meat and cheese was very diverse and was more like tar than oil. Knowledge of the composition of products obtained from hydrothermal liquefaction will allow scientists to develop optimal methods of processing to produce fuel suitable for powering cars.