Development of resource efficient processes to reuse of food waste for construction of membranes and filters for water purification and facemasks respectively
Start date: 2021-11-15
End date: 2025-11-14
Filter and membranes are semipermeable barriers, often produced from fossil-based polymers, and used for air and water purification. Membrane filtration facilities suffer from extensive membrane fouling, which demands frequent membrane replacement, that is accompanied with environmental concerns associated with plastic waste. On the other hand, due to the corona virus pandemic, consumption of disposable masks have been increased dramatically, and several billions of masks are discarded as waste every day. Therefore, green alternatives membranes and filters are required to replace the fossil-based membranes and filters. This project aims to introduce a new generation of sustainable membranes and filters produced from filamentous fungi grown on food waste. Processing of fruits and vegetables results in generation of several million tons of residues every year. This project will use the waste for the cultivation of filamentous fungi to obtain fungal microfibers. Fungal fibers together with the cellulosic fraction of the food waste will be used for construction of porous filters and membranes.
We aim at implementation of the production process to the existing infrastructure in the textile and paper industries to speed up the uptake of the fungal membranes and filters. The performance of the membranes for removing of contaminants from a challenging wastewater (containing dyes, chemicals used during the dyeing and finishing of textiles, and micro plastics) and wine clarification will be examined. The filters will be evaluated for being used in facemasks. In long term, the outcome of the project will contribute to development of circular bio-economy by resource efficient processes, which convert food waste to membranes and filters.