Swiss-Japanese venture to upcycle food waste

Swiss-Japanese venture to upcycle food waste

Tokyo (SCCIJ) – The research division of Asahi Group from Japan has joined forces with Embion Technologies from Switzerland to develop new products from brewery by-products, contributing to a circular economy. The Swiss innovator enables industrial upcycling of food waste and the production of useful industrial biomass based products in high volume at a low cost.

Swiss-Japanese venture to upcycle food waste

A view of Embion Technologies’ lab in Lausanne (© Embion)

More than recycling

Embion will provide technology and know-how to biomass processing and deriving customized, bioactive super-extracts from plant and microbial biomass. Asahi’s R&D subsidiary company, Asahi Quality and Innovations (AQI), is the central hub for cutting-edge research in Asahi Group, engaging in research themes and core technologies that may lead to mid-to-long-term developments in Asahi Group.

The partnership aims at leveraging breakthrough technologies to create new products from brewing by-products generated by Asahi such as barley which has a very high cellulose content. Depending on the brewing process and the quality of the plant itself, cellulose may account for up to 30 percent of the post-brewing spent grain.

Transformative process

Embion’s groundbreaking platform technology reduces the polysaccharides in the cellulose to three- or four-molecule oligosaccharides. The patent-protected process extracts half of the weight of the spent barley grain in powder form thirty times faster than existing procedures. Embion uses a one-step method that uses up very little energy because it requires only a moderate temperature and little pressure.

The resulting soluble fiber powder can reduce the sucrose content of a wide range of foods. It makes up for the weight and volume difference between sucrose and the natural sweeteners that replace it. The fibers are neutral in flavor and good for human health. Also, they appear to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Grain byproducts

The collaboration between the Japanese and Swiss parties was initiated more than two years ago when Embion was developing its first super-extract called “Prembion” for supporting the antibiotics-free growing of production animals by upcycling the grain byproduct that is generated through the process of beer making.

“The Asahi-Embion partnership brings together deep skills in business and technology strategy, product ideation, technology development, and deployment. The potential of our collaboration is as impactful as our technologies”, says Georgios Savoglidis, Founder and CEO of Embion.

“We highly appreciate Embion’s technology thorough experiments. Future food and supply security demand the use of localized resources while exploring the most advanced fundamental technologies available,” adds Manabu Sami, President and Representative Director of AQI.

Three scientists in Chemical Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and Zurich (ETHZ) co-founded Embion Technologies in 2016. Georgios Savoglidis, Sviatlana Siankevich, and Georgios Fengos met while studying at the University of Patras in Greece. The startup is a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), one of Switzerland’s internationally renowned high-tech hub for fundamental and applied research in natural sciences and engineering.

Text: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ, based on material of Embion and EPFL



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