Biomass is a good Danish resource, and, in contrast to North Sea oil, it never runs out, if we use it sustainably. That does Leif Jensen, owner of Jensen’s Organic in Gørløse, Denmark. At his company organic potatoes processed to potatoes ready for boiling, potato slices, potato cubes and potato wedges, which are supplied to municipalities, senior citizen centers, wholesalers and restaurants.
Two kinds of residues
“When we skin potatoes there are two kinds of residues. First and foremost, potato skin, then potato residues, which occurs when potatoes are refined after they are skined, “says Leif Jensen, adding:” We produce 10 tons a week and that leaves 45% finished potato products and 55% of the residues which we naturally wanted to find meaningful uses for, besides using it as fertilizer on my fields. ”
The ideas for other uses of residues came when Leif Jensen was invited to a series of networking meetings at Risø to create high value products from biomass. The network meetings were organized by Risø Innovation in collaboration with the Region of Zealand. The idea was to provide inspiration for interaction between businesses in the Zealand region and the research world.
“I was inspired by the network meetings and the network has been really good. It was useful for sharing visions, and I met a number of researchers and business people who were just as innovative as myself. People in the network acknowledged my ideas as interesting and could be of use.”
Potato residues become a food ingredient
The first success came with the potato residues. Leif Jensen found that potato residues could be processed into an ingredient in bread, beef, meatballs and sausages, where it can replace flour. The potato peeling machine in Leif Jensen’s business is divided so that waste is sorted inside. The potato residues can then be removed and boiled, or used directly in food production.
In December 2010 Leif Jensen obtained the necessary approvals from the Regional Food Authorities and the potato residues are now used in kindergartens and at a bakery. The idea is that Leif Jensen and the bakery together will produce a special bread for the schools. Potato residues have several advantages over the flour. There are a good deal of vitamins and minerals in potato residues, and it’s free of gluten.
That means that people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance may eat the bread.
The other portion of the project has little further prospects. During network meetings at Risø Leif Jensen came into contact with a research assistant Stefan Heiske and program manager Jens Ejbye Schmidt from the Biosystems Division, and together they began a project that could transform potato peel into biogas.
“It could make good use, because in that way I could create the heat needed for my business,” says Leif Jensen. He would even like to patent the process that has been developed, but the project has stumbled on an appropriation barrier because there are currently only allocated grants to biogas from biomass containing slurry. “I think that is something tortuous, but fortunately, Stefan Heiske and Jens Schmidt Ejbye have not given up, but will try to search again,” says Leif Jensen.
More support from Risø than from the bank adviser
There has been a second profit by participating in the network meetings at Risø. “Before, when I presented these ideas to my banker, I met often a little skepticism and the question – do you really think that could be completed? That experience I never have when Risø people are engaged in my projects. Risø researchers are optimists and see opportunities where others see limitations.”
And Leif Jensen concludes: “Just getting together with other business people like me has been worth it. I will join again the next time I am invited to such networking meetings. ”
Networks create new technologies and business opportunities
Louise V. Georgi, business developer from Risø DTU, adds that experience from previous events has led to a series of new network meetings, held in the autumn 2010. They were also about creating high value products from biomass, and led to some interesting project ideas that now are being followed.
One of the attendants to this network meeting was farmer Michael Meyer, who gained new knowledge and inspiration: “The network meeting has given me new inputs and I’ve got new angles from researchers and other businesses people. I have also got a network that I can contact in the future if I have any questions or challenges I need help to solve, “he says.
“We can thus see that it is possible to create links between research into biomass and the industry that produces biomass,” says Louise V. Georgi, and outlines the major perspectives of biorefineries: “They can produce fuel, plastics and chemicals. In addition to that, ingredients for cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries can be produced. Relevant new technologies and business opportunities for Denmark. “