six research projects in the field of bioeconomy awarded

20/12/2021 15:28

The Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) has approved the funding of six research projects in the field of bioeconomy. The FWO is proud to present the selected projects, which will receive total funding of three million euros. Encouraging bioeconomy research is one of the guidelines of the ‘bioeconomy policy plan’, which Flemish Minister for science policy Hilde Crevits presented earlier this year.

The policy plan is built around three axes: encouraging research, innovation and closer collaboration between industry and agriculture. With this plan the minister wants to make better and more use of biomass. The applications that already exist demonstrate the possibilities of bioeconomy. Specific research will enable us to make even greater use of biomass in the future.

One of the research projects is that of professor Lise Appels (KU Leuven). The aim of her project is to derive, in an environment friendly manner, substances with antibacterial properties from marine algae, and then add these to e.g. paints that prevent the degradation of ships by bacteria. “The advantage of our research is that we do not make new substances from fossil fuels. All elements that we use to make these antibacterial coatings are already present in nature,” prof. Appels says.

The research project of professor Korneel Rabaey (University Ghent) is also focused on sustainability, of food packaging in particular. “Today it’s already possible to convert CO2 into products such as ethanol or methanol, which are then fed to bacteria which will produce edible protein. Our project investigates whether the same method can be applied to produce plastics for food packaging. This way we create a new sustainable route for the production of food packaging,” prof. Rabaey says.

In the research project of professor Bert Maes (UAntwerpen), non-edible sugars from organic waste such as old paper, cardboard, corn stalks or brewery waste are converted into molecules from which different building blocks for the production of plastics such as PET are made. “These molecules are exactly the same as those already being used, but this time they are made up of atoms from organic waste instead of petroleum,” prof. Maes says.

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