Growing A Green Future

Project Details


Main research question/goal
This three-year Interreg Flanders-Netherlands project "Growing a Green Future" aimed at the development of innovative bio-based applications starting from the oils and / or fiber of the crops of hemp, rapeseed, camelina (or “false flax”), flax, marigold and Miscanthus, focusing on business cases that are technically and economically viable. The first 5 crops have oil-containing leaves and/or seeds, from which we will test the oils for new possible food and non-food applications. In Miscanthus, hemp and flax, the fibers are also considered as potential bio-based raw materials for the construction sector, paper production, packaging and crop protection. In view of increased crop rotation, risk spreading and profitability, these crops can eventually be interesting for farmers/growers. To evolve from a fossil-based economy into a mature bio-economy, the exploitation, exploration, and creation of novel balanced value chains in the agri-food chain is needed. In addition the strong local food industry in the partner countries are always looking for new, healthy, natural and sustainable ingredients and products.

Research approach
ILVO will use 3 fields of expertise in the project: 1) the Food Pilot for process and product development; 2) knowledge of genetics, selection and breeding for optimization of the cultivation and use of calendula and Miscanthus; and C) mechanical engineering of a specialized flower harvesting machine for calendula. With regard to the oil component in the research project, ILVO and partners perform seed oil (containing unsaturated fatty acids) extraction & analysis  and evaluate stability, flavor and odor. Based on this data, new possible cold and hot recipes and applications for the food sector will be developed. The marigold oil derived from the petals is also evaluated for non-food applications, such as in the pharmaceutical and in the dye & resin sector. ILVO compares the crop performance of several calendula varieties. Finally, ILVO optimizes the harvesting technique for the repeated collection of flowering blooms, to ensure that the plants continue to grow until seed harvest. Karel De Grote Hogeschool provides expertise in analysis of the oil. Agrodome, Inagro and Millvision evaluate building applications of locally grown hemp, flax or Miscanthus as materials for building blocks, insulation and boarding materials. Millvision focuses on the development of biobased quality printing paper and packaging materials. As a last business case, Miscanthus is being investigated as a feedstock for the development of a natural biocidal product (possible replacement of existing herbicides).

Throughout the different phases of the project ILVO keeps a sharp eye out for valorization opportunities. Through inspiration sessions organized with interested stakeholders, the interest and suggestions of potential partners in the new value chains will be determined. The goal is to find out which analysis and tests at kitchen and pilot scale are most relevant to support the product development based on the new vegetable oils. The extensive network with food companies also facilitates the continuous search for new, healthy, natural, sustainable ingredients and products of the agro-food chain in this project. The same participatory approach also applies to calendula's non-food and harvest story.
Effective start/end date1/01/1731/12/19

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