Competitive Edge: ChainCraft’s technology converts organic waste into medium chain fatty acids

September 17, 2020 |

Q: What was the reason for founding your organization – what was the open niche you saw that could be addressed with a new product or service? What was the problem, or gap, or opportunity?

Three key needs were the basis behind development of ChainCraft:

  1. Valorization of organic waste streams. Food waste is estimated to cause an economic loss of 1 trillion USD annually {Lux Research, 2020}. Furthermore, only 16% of biowaste in Europe is to an extent re-used, much of which is converted to biogas, an imperfect and currently not profitable solution {BIC & Zero Waste Europe, 2020}. We developed a solution to use this feedstock for products of higher environmental and economic value.
  2. More sustainable supply of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). MCFA of chain length C4 up to C8 are typically produced from petroleum or palm kernel oil. Both feedstock processes result in many environmental problems, including high carbon footprint and risk of land use change by deforestation. We felt the need for more sustainable supply of these MCFA.
  3. Low availability and high prices of the C6 MCFA (caproic acid), which has substantial added value for various applications.

Q: Tell us about your organization. What do you do?

We develop biobased chemicals from organic waste streams by use of biotechnology. Current commercial examples are our Medium Chain Fatty Acid products from food residues. Our product is a mixture of the C2 up to C8 linear fatty acids, unique in its high concentration of caproic acid (C6) and butyric acid (C4). For the coming years we plan to add fractionation and derivatization to our production processes.

The production process of our MCFA’s is based on mixed open culture fermentation and chain elongation. Please contact us in case you are interested in hearing more about this. Furthermore, we have various other projects in the pipeline, all driven by biotechnology, organic waste stream valorization and market needs for more sustainable solutions.

Q: What stage of development are you?  Choose one:

Commercial stage – have mature products or services on the market.

Q: What do your technologies, products or services do and accomplish – how does it (they) work, who is it (they) aimed for?

Our production process is all about natural (non-GMO) fermentation. It resembles the situation in your stomach, where a mixture of microorganisms is helping you digest all type of foodstuff. We have found the optimal conditions for our process to yield an attractive mixture of fatty acids. This exact mixture of fatty acids provides great benefits to livestock farmers in terms of gut health and productivity improvement of their animals, when added to the feed in dosages of 0.2-0.5% weight. The mixture also holds value for other industries, for instance in agrochemicals, plasticizer and food applications. Naturally, the fractionated and derivatized products will open up even more new markets for our technology in the future.

Q: Competitively, what gives your technology, product or service set an edge in cost or performance, sustainability, or any other aspect, that makes it stand out from the crowd, In short, what makes it transformative?

The cost advantage we can provide our customers is based on 2 elements: low-cost feedstock and efficient process technology.

Our feedstock comes from other organizations, which often have to pay a gate-fee to dispose it. Therefore, we can create value with these partners and are able to source constantly at low cost. Availability is not a concern as the annual volume of organic residual waste in Europe alone is estimated at 60 mln tons {BIC & Zero Waste Europe, 2020}.

Our technology is resilient and low-cost as we utilize a non-GMO, open/mixed culture fermentation at mild process conditions. Therefore, there is less need to sterilize our equipment and our process is less sensitive compared to single culture fermentations.

Besides these cost advantages, our process is substantially more sustainable compared to current production processes of MCFA’s as our carbon footprint and energy need is lower and there is no risk of land use change effects.

Q: What are the 3 top milestones you have accomplished in the past 3 years?

  1. Successful commissioning and start-up of our 2,000 tons/year MCFA plant in the Port of Amsterdam in 2019.
  2. Successful introduction of our unique MCFA based product in the animal feed market.
  3. Development of novel applications for our MCFA portfolio in cooperation with various partners.

Q: What are the 3 top milestones you will accomplish in the next 3 years?

  1. Increasing utilization of our MCFA plant to 100%.
  2. Engineering and construction of our flagship plant, ~10x the size of our current facility.
  3. Launching our MCFA based products in various other markets.

Q: Where can I learn more about ChainCraft?

Click here to visit ChainCraft’s website.

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