On 1 December 2023, six members from cities and regions of the HOOP Network had the opportunity to visit the innovative company NAFIGATE, one of the leading global producers of P3HB biopolymer from biowaste (used cooking oils), in Prague. The meeting took place at the Microbiological Institute of the Czech Academy of Science (CAS)/NAFIGATE and provided an in-depth insight into the Hydal® biotechnology developed and patented by NAFIGATE and its financial, economic and scale-up aspects.
The visit spun off from the PDA (Project Development Assistance) service that the Lighthouse city of Albano Laziale is receiving in the frame of the HOOP project and it was co-organised by ANCI Lazio (Association of municipalities of Lazio region, representing this Lighthouse in the HOOP project), the HOOP coordinator CETENMA and Nafigate Corp . The scope of this study tour was to dive deeper into the solution for the valorization of used cooking oils (UCOs) into the bioplastic P3HB that was proposed to Albano Laziale and the other HOOP Lighthouses by the HOOP technical partners. The meeting was also attended by members of the HOOP Network members that shown interest in this biotechnology such as the Region of Sardinia, the Municipality of Castellammare di Stabbia and the Municipality of San Cesareo, CONOE (National Consortium for the Collection and Treatment of Used Vegetable and Animal Oils and Fats – Italy) and COSIR (Consorzio Servizi Imprese Riunite a r.l.) for them to gather first-hand information.
All debates arose and knowledge generated will be further refined during the next HOOP PDA meeting, scheduled for 12 December 2023 where the aforementioned stakeholders and HOOP technical partners in charge of the financial, business and technological PDA will gauge in a strategic hybrid session to further push for the creation a novel value chain for the creation of bioplastics from UCOs in Italy.
Hydal® biotechnology exploits waste oils as a rich source of carbon for bacteria, which in turn use in their metabolism to synthesize P3HB, a fully biodegradable, non-toxic and biocompatible polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). This material finds application in different industries, including cosmetics, biomedicine, packaging, agriculture, and 3D printing. The extraordinary efficiency of the technology is evidenced by the fact that bacteria can produce up to 0.70 kg of P3HB from 1 kg of UCO. Bacteria belong to a natural strain and they’re not genetically modified, thus ensuring the commercialisation of the polymer for Halal-friendly and natural biomaterials applications.
The technology contributes, on the one side, to the reduction of the use of fossil fuel-derived polymers and virgin plastics and, on the other side, to the creation of an alternative valorisation route to UCOs. These are nowadays almost exclusively used to produce biodiesel, a valorisation route that is expected to face regulatory barriers in the future. Finding UCOs valorisation alternatives is an issue of main concern, because UCOs are an environmental threat if disposed of inappropriately.
The visit to the Microbiological Institute of CAS/NAFIGATE offered an in-depth understanding of UCO fermentation technology and explored investment opportunities in the biotechnology space. This unique experience allowed attendees to see the innovative technology in action and discuss its environmental and financial benefits.
NAFIGATE Corporation stands as a leader in the field of sustainability and biotechnology, contributing significantly to the creation of high value-added products and the adoption of eco-friendly practices. The collaboration between HOOP partners, especially the coordination between CETENMA, ANCI Lazio, CONOE and COSIR, represents an important step towards the promotion of sustainable solutions in the Italian industrial context.
For more information and interview requests, representatives from European cities and regions can join the HOOP Network free of charge.