Valorisation of waste streams within the agri-food sector

  • James Young

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Over the twenty-year period between 1998 and 2018 the number of full-time farmers within the Northern Ireland (NI) agri-tech sector dropped from 22,524 to 16,964. As expected, this has also resulted in a commensurate loss in the total cattle livestock which has decreased from 1.77 million to 1.63 million. Despite this, NI beef and sheep meat production accounted for 15% of the total UK output and represents 27% of the gross agricultural turnover in 2017 or £1.3 billion in 2016, while animal by- products accounted for revenues worth £53 million. While the sector produces a number of high-quality food products, a significant amount of waste is generated during processing. Given increased global competition in the sector and new challenges including climate mitigation it is desired to enhance the overall value and image of the sector and hence valorisation of wastes is increasingly attractive. This project investigates valorisation of waste streams in the agri-food sector, particularly those which would have been traditionally sent for rendering or exported at low value to other countries for upgrading. The project specifically focuses on the production technologies for specialist chemical compounds from meat by-products and evaluation of the energy potential for plant-based wastes. Overall the data generated within this work aims to boost the agri-tech sector by creating additional revenue streams through diversification of the product portfolio. The main achievements of this project are associated with the production of traceable nutraceutical products and their intermediaries with proven analysis of the traceability system and the quality of the nutraceuticals exploited. These products will be processed by sustainable separation and extraction techniques that are efficient along with the understanding of global economics and market size of nutraceuticals. Furthermore, focussing upon the release of energy from specific biomass and kinetic modelling of such material in terms of reaction progress, rate of reaction and activation energy associated with each heating rate applied to the material.

Note this thesis is heavily redacted for reasons owing to the commercial sensitivity of the subject matter. It would substantially prejudice the commercial interests of the author, the University or an external company if the entire thesis were made available in unredacted format. Note that pp 11-147 & 18- -307 are permanently redacted.
Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsKnowledge Transfer Partnership & Elmgrove Foods Ltd
SupervisorColin McCoy (Supervisor) & David Rooney (Supervisor)


  • agriculture
  • agri-food
  • agri-waste
  • valorisation
  • energy
  • modelling
  • nutraceuticals
  • chondroitin sulfate
  • cholic acid
  • berry pomace
  • filtration
  • ion exchange
  • high performance liquid chromatography
  • capillary electrophoresis
  • Raman
  • traceability
  • validation
  • BET
  • SEM

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