An LIT led team is developing technology to turn food waste into products including energy, nutrients and fertiliser to reduce food loss and waste across the food supply chain.
Each year, 4.2 million tonnes of food waste is generated in Ireland with 19% of the total coming from the food processing sector.
Dr Sushanta Kumar Saha leads a Limerick Institute of Technology team, including Dr Lena Madden, in partnership with Dr Ajay Menon (UCD) and Adam Lord (Food Surplus Management Ltd), in developing technology to transform organic food waste, destined for landfill, into nutrient-rich food, ingredients, clean energy and balanced fertiliser.
The project, known as WAVA, is also one of five food challenge projects shortlisted for a prize fund of €2 million euro for Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Future Innovators Prize.
Commenting on the project, Head of Research Projects and Technology Transfer, at LIT, Dr. Patrick Murray said: “The SFI-funded WAVA project is an example of transformative applied biosciences research at Shannon Applied Biotechnology Centre in LIT. The research team will develop disruptive enabling technologies to reduce food loss and waste across the food supply chain from “farm to fork”. One example would be that the technology allows us to produce Carbon Dioxide from waste food so this can be used to ultimately grow new food and value-added commodities such as omega 3’s and antioxidants.”
In total, 15 teams were announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD for the SFI Innovators Prize, which has called on research teams to develop innovative solutions to food waste and plastics.
SFI’s two challenge-based prize programmes, with a fund of €2 million each, seeks to support Ireland’s best and brightest unconventional thinkers and innovators to develop novel, potentially disruptive, technologies to address significant societal challenges.
Five teams have been shortlisted under the SFI Food Challenge and 10 under the SFI Plastics Challenge. At the end of the 12-month programme two overall winners will be announced.