A team of researchers from Prof. Pascal Saikaly's group led by Jiajie Xu, postdoc and Bin Bian, Ph.D. student together with Sara Aleid and Yara Aldrees, M.Sc. students took home the 'People's Choice Award' at the third annual TAQADAM Showcase 2019, held on September 26th on campus. Their work entitled 'Transforming food waste into high-value products' aims to utilize the next-generation biotechnology through carbon-CPU in transforming food waste into useful fatty acids needed as livestock nutrients.
Every year, Saudi Arabia generates more than 1 billion tons of food waste and ranks No. 1 in terms of average annual waste disposal (250 kg/person). However, the high organic content in food waste makes it a valuable resource rather than something requiring treatment at a high expense. Also, the demand for fatty acids is far more than what has been supplied (500k vs. 30k tons) so far for the animal feed industry. Carbon-CPU aims to fill this gap by producing the high-value bioproducts at a much lower cost and environmental burden, compared to the traditional chemical synthesis.
"It's an exciting experience to get this award. We feel that our hard work as a team finally paid off. But most importantly, this award is a recognition of the importance of finding innovative and sustainable solutions for waste treatment in KSA. Our next step is to scale-up our technology. Waste treatment with resource recovery is under the framework of Saudi Vision 2030, and we hope our technology can make an impact on the development of a sustainable society in KSA.", Bian said.