Chip[s] Board Ltd
Sustainable Cost-Effective Technologies for L-Lactic Acid Production from UK Food Wastes (SCET-LAFOW)
About the project
Lactic acid (LA) is a naturally occurring organic acid that is used in food, feed, pharmaceuticals, leather, textiles, cosmetics, medical and bulk chemicals. LA can be produced from fossil oil, but only fermentative production can generate the highly desirable biodegradable pure lactic acid isomers of L(-) or D(+).
Recently, the demand for biodegradable pure lactic acid has increased, fuelled by its use in the production of polylactic acid (PLA); a biodegradable biocompatible alternative to fossil-based material with wide range of applications from transportation, packaging, leather, electronic devices, textiles, household, industrial appliances, and medical applications.
Raw potatoes are the most wasted food in the UK (WRAP, UK 2020a), while 12-20% of the entire production volume from potato processing industries are discarded as waste and mainly used as low-quality animal feed or anaerobic digestion (Potato Business 2020). Gypsum formation is also a problem as it has less value and is costly to dispose of, while not being environmentally friendly. Purification and downstream technologies for LA production is around 30-50% of the entire production costs, limiting commercialisation and revenue generation.
As more than 86% of commercial lactic acid are produced from food materials, our innovation uses UK waste potatoes as substrates, avoiding the unethical conflict between feeding the worlds over 8 billion population and using food materials for bulk chemicals production. We will also investigate various other compounds for pH control and some innovative technologies to reduce downstream costs.
Chip[s]Board has over the past 3 years developed a ground-breaking thermophilic bioprocess to transform various UK wastes into L-lactic acid (L-LA) and enriched animal feed at lab and pilot scale, thereby avoiding the unethical use of foods for chemical production. This ground-breaking innovation is low capital and operational cost (CAPEX & OPEX), with the ability to create more UK jobs and add foreign exchange to the UK economy when commercialised.
Chip[s]Board has access to a high L-LA producing thermophile, and in this feasibility study will transform UK industrial waste potatoes into L-LA with advanced greener upstream and downstream technologies aimed at reducing costs of extraction and purification in an environmentally friendly circular economy, producing various other co-products and recycling water and energy. This innovation will generate extra UK jobs, and foreign exchange while also solving the environmental problems of waste when fully commercialised.