In Europe’s agricultural sector half of its residual biomass is currently wasted as it is challenging, due to specific plant properties and technologically, to upcycle feedstock to higher-value products. Certain agricultural side streams are rich in phenolic bioactive ingredients and possess antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory properties, potentially even anticancer and antiviral activities. However, technologies capable of preserving the complexity and functionality of these compounds in a way that is safe, sustainable and can do so in financially viable quantities are currently lacking.
PHENOLEXA focuses on the investigation of four types of agricultural residues: olive and grape shoots and leaves, onion and chicory leftovers. The main aim of PHENOLEXA is to realising the full potential of these compounds by the development of a benign, efficient and environmentally friendly biorefinery process to procure high-value polyphenolic bioactive compounds (BACs) with preserved, tailored and/or improved functionality and targeted biological activities (antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral, anti-aging, mood stabilising) to be used in pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and cosmeceutical products while also generating some functional fibres and colourants to be used in food products. Innovative technologies will be developed to demonstrate the technology of the bioactive ingredients’ isolation.
One of the main results of PHENOLEXA is the creation of lab scale prototypes of cosmetic, nutraceutical, pharma, and functional food products.