Making use of wasted natural resources

The extensive use and depletion of natural resources is a strong driving force for us to seek means for decreasing the energy and material consumption, using the existing resources in the most sustainable manner, and advancing the circular economy.

Among the natural resources, polysaccharides hold a major role as extremely abundant, renewable, biocompatible, non-toxic, and highly valuable raw materials. Agricultural crops as well as wood are traditional sources for polysaccharides, the most important in industrial use being starch and cellulose. The utilization of plant biomaterials is currently being intensified: residual plant parts are explored as sources of valorized compounds, and the forestry industry faces conversion into biorefineries that aim at upgrading all material streams to useful products. We characterize hemicelluloses that are a remarkable natural resource but up-to-date are not exploited industrially.

With the advancement of bio-based economies world-wide, enzymes play a key role in biotechnical processing of raw materials as specific tools. Cell biomass that is produced as side stream from enzyme production represents a costly waste burden to factories that employ these bioprocesses, since most lack the technology to utilize the polysaccharide-rich biomass as materials. Our aim is to tackle this problem by isolating and characterizing polysaccharides from fungal cell biomass for further use.