Stena Metall, a Swedish company that processes and recycles all types of waste, is one of several applicants to receive a European Union grant of about 7 million Swedish Kronor (nearly $937,000 CAD) to develop an innovative technology for microwave drying of food scraps.
Food scraps are difficult to deal with at restaurants, ships, meat and fish counters and other environments that handle food products. The waste can be bulky and can also create problems with smells, vermin and hygiene.
“The goal of this project is to develop a microwave drier which reduces the weight of the food waste by 85 per cent,” says Christer Forsgren, head of technology and environmental science at Stena Metall. “Due to the lack of space, recyclable resources such as food waste are currently often mixed with waste which could be used for energy recovery.”
Microwave heating sterilizes and dries the waste, which allows it to be stored without any problems or bad smells. The process is quick. Both the volume and weight are reduced in a couple of minutes, while preserving all nutrients. The residual product is an odorless powder that looks like sawdust. Several possible areas of application include fertilizers, fuel and fodder (animal food). The project is supposed to show if there are any other areas of application.
“The goal is to develop a microwave drier which is efficient and easy to operate,” says Forsgre. “It should be approximately as big as a freezer and should be possible to use at restaurants, in shipping and in other industries that lack a user-friendly waste solution.”
Stena Metall is the main applicant in the project. Other project participants include Stena Line AB, GISIP AB, Liros AB from Sweden, the University of Poznan, Polish company QWED and British company NetAccess.