Valorisation of raw materials and process efficiency

friso van assema 90

Project leader: Friso van Assema, MSc
Time frame: 2011 – 2016
Project code: RE001

Research theme: Sustainable Food Systems
Project login (project members only)


Society is increasingly demanding sustainability; people are becoming steadily more aware of the environmental pressure caused by food production, a major human activity. Resources become scarcer, ecosystems are endangered and the impact of climate change is a major issue of debate in the scientific community. This situation is not only caused (in part) by food production but, conversely, affects it too. This project aims to supply the key players in the food sector with a scientific approach to quantify the sustainability of their current and future processes and food chains.

In the project, an exergy-based method is being used to quantify the resource efficiency of food processes and entire food chains including waste streams. Multi-criteria decision models (MCD models) are being developed in the project. These will enable actors in the food chain to handle conflicting issues, such as quality and cost, that often arise when optimising their activities in a resource-efficient way. In 2014, the exergy analysis and MCD models were applied in two different food chains; bread and mushroom.

We have confirmed that exergy analysis is an excellent approach to assessing resource efficiency in the bread and mushroom chains. The exergy evaluation of alternatives, for example the recycling of bread leftovers, showed that there is a trade-off between the exergetic gain of the actual recycling and the exergetic investment required to make the recycling possible. The MCD model indicates the possibility of optimising bread production and recycling so that the overall resource efficiency of the chain improves significantly.


Recent publications

Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 Exergetic comparison of food waste valorization in industrial bread production View summary
Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 Compromise programming: Non-interactive calibration of utility-based metrics View summary
Posters  2014 Designing exergetically sustainable industrial food chains  
Posters 2013 Valorisation of raw materials and process efficiency