The aim of this project is to implement a value chain for duckweed, a water plant that freely floats on the water surface. Duckweed has the potential to purify agricultural waste streams. In the process it produces protein that is valuable to the animal feed and food industries. This allows for residual waste flows to be reused, making this project a prime example of circularity.
Flemish agriculture is faced with a lack of nutrients, which results in environmental problems. Processing these nutrients is an expense for farmers, despite the fact that they are a valuable fuel for biomass production. Previous research has shown that duckweed can grow on residual waste flows, but in Europe there are no customers for this duckweed or its processed products yet. This project strives to develop a value chain so as to open up the market to this circular product. The focus will be on processing duckweed into a stable, marketable product for food and feed. The technical and economic parameters will be validated on a relevant scale and attention will be paid to chain implementation in the sectors concerned.
The production of alternative proteins is important because they are a key source of food for both animals and people. They are often imported from regions where tropical rain forests are making way for crop production. Moreover, these proteins are reprocessed into nutrients, which is partly causing the local nutrient surplus. It therefore comes as no surprise that in Europe there is a lot of interest in locally cultivated alternative protein sources like duckweed.