Researchers at the University of Borås are developing methods to grow fungi on materials that would otherwise have become waste. The goal of the project Ways2Taste is to produce climate-smart materials, including a new source of protein.
The university is home to a unique research environment that addresses two of the world's major environmental challenges -- a lack of resources and a growing amount of waste -- using fungi that convert residuals and wastes from companies and households to food, feed and biofuels.
"We usually say there is no waste—only resources. But our knowledge is not enough to utilize these resources. Ways2Taste is a new way of dealing with what would otherwise be waste," said Mohammad Taherzadeh, project leader and Professor in Bioprocess Technology at the University of Borås.
Another participant in the project is the Food & Nutrition Science department at Chalmers University of Technology, along with 18 regional companies. The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
The waste products used in Ways2Taste come from bakeries, ice cream factories, breweries, feed companies and food stores. They are divided into three categories: from relatively pure, such as day-old bread from bakeries, to really dirty, such as slaughterhouse by-products and fertilizers. The researchers will investigate how, via different processes, fungi can be grown on the waste to produce a fungal biomass. From this, several different end products can be created, including food.
"It will be a climate-smart protein that can look like, for example, ground beef. But we will also work on producing pigments, bioplastics, animal feed and ethanol," said Mohammad Taherzadeh.
A goal of Ways2Taste is to go one step further when it comes to resource recovery than biogas production, incineration, or composting.
"The difference is that we can develop new materials and not only solely use the waste products as an energy source,” he said. “Many materials will be scarce in the future and our process can play an important role."
In the longer term, the research group wants to build a fungi center in Borås.
"We want to be able to work nationally to develop useful fungi and help companies to use fungi in their production," said Mohammad Taherzadeh.