ResTA – support for R&D activities of resource valorisation

Purpose of the activity
Partners
The focus themes
Mineral resources
Wood
Food
Contact

Programme activities are carried out by the Estonian Research Council in accordance with Decree No. 1.1-2/20/99 of the Minister of Education and Research of 30 March 2020. It lays down the conditions for the activities under the “Support for research and development in the field of resource valorisation” or ResTA programme.
The total budget of ResTA is EUR 10 821 810, of which 85% (EUR 9 198 538.50) will be covered by the European Regional Development Fund.

Purpose of the activity

ResTA program supports research and development, which adds value to Estonian wood, food and mineral resources industries. The aim is to build research capacities in these fields, grow the number of specialists, and develop cooperation between companies and research institutions. In this way, the coherence between research and development and economic growth in Estonia and Europe will increase.
Activities are steered by sectoral expert committees, which include representatives of ministries, professional associations in the field, companies and public sector institutions.

The partners

Eligible research institutions that are partners in the ResTA programme:
• University of Tartu
• Tallinn University of Technology
• Estonian University of Life Sciences
• Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies
• Biotechnology competence center – BioCC

The focus themes

The research of the ResTA programme covers the areas in which Estonia has the best opportunities to use the available resources more efficiently and to give them maximum added value. These areas include mineral resources, wood and food.
The areas to be developed with the help of ResTA are divided into narrower focus topics, which were jointly selected by ministries, state agencies, professional associations, companies and universities. At the same time, the common goal is to seek opportunities for the maximum valorisation of raw materials, to provide the highest economic added value and to develop and introduce technologies that are sustainable for raw materials and have the least impact on the environment, creating business opportunities for both new and existing companies.

1. Research related to Estonian mineral resources

The aim of R&D activities related to mineral resources is to support research focusing on the retrieval, exploration and exploitation of mineral resources containing critical elements.

Research projects focus on the following topics:

1. Quality and properties of Estonian carbophosphorite as a potential phosphorus raw material and its complex processing technologies.
2. Concentrations and distribution of rare earth metals in Estonian carbophosphorite: control mechanisms and separation possibilities.
3. Distribution and forms of vanadium in graptolite argillite and separation technologies.
4. Potentially useful components and genesis of oreization in the phenomenon of polymetallic oreization of pre-Cambrian rocks.

2. Research on decomposition and chemical valorisation of wood

The aim of the activity is to create preconditions for better valorisation of wood in the Estonian wood industry, which requires changes in higher education, science and business.
Practical research will be supported, which is primarily aimed at researching the valorisation of underused wood species, low-quality wood assortments and production residues in the wood industry in Estonia. The principles of circular economy and cascade use are applied in the valorisation of wood in order to minimize residues and by-products.

Research projects focus on the following topics:

1. Chemical valorisation of lignocellulose and further valorisation of bleached chemical-thermal wood pulp in order to:
a. provide an important substitute for traditional petrochemicals, including the creation of biodegradable packaging materials by chemical pulp recovery using environmentally friendly solvents and derivatization. Potential applications would be novel packaging materials for the food industry, whose performance and biodegradability can be made user and environmentally friendly in the process. Bio-based textiles and composites are also in the focus;
b. identify opportunities for valorisation of bleached chemical-thermal wood pulp and untreated secondary wood pulp streams. Lignin separation for the production of lignans of different sizes and functionalities. Separation of high quality lignin from wood residues.
2. Fractionation of lignocellulose, chemical and biochemical recovery of intermediates, including:
a. optimization of industrial fermentation processes for wood sugars in bioreactors, synthetic biology methods for the development of industrial cell factories designed for the production of chemicals and proteins;
b. chemical conversion of lignocellulosic biomass into novel high value chemicals and monomers for the polymer industry; polymerization and use of the obtained bio-monomers in high-tech applications (plastics with high temperature resistance, novel paints, coatings, etc.);
c. chemical and enzymatic valorisation technologies of lignin. Various products are developed from lignin and the phenolic fragments isolated from it – parent compounds used in the synthesis of materials, resins, adhesives, oils, plastics, construction materials, etc.
3. Thermochemical recovery of underused wood species, low quality wood assortments, and production residues, including:
a. development and optimization of thermochemical enhancement and biorefining technologies for the production of second and third generation biochemicals from lignocellulosic material; including the study of the possibilities of using residual biomass and by-products generated in the production process based on the principles of the circular economy;
b. production of chemicals for gasification and gas fermentation of wood industry residues.

3. Research on the separation and valorisation of food raw materials

The aim of the research supported under this action is to acquire new knowledge for ensuring food safety and quality, and for enhancing the bioactive components of plant/animal by-products, as well as to identify opportunities for the application of innovative methods for the development of food technologies.

Research projects focus on the following topics:

1. Comprehensive mapping of microbial, biochemical and chemical factors influencing food safety, quality and shelf life, and establishment of modern monitoring systems, including:
a. designing a modern, interdisciplinary cost-effective food safety and food quality monitoring programme for the food industry;
b. extending the shelf life of food and ensuring its quality and safety.

2. Innovative enhancement of food and food raw material components, including:
a. methodological platform for the development of innovative food technologies based on the use of high-throughput modern research methods (ohmic methods, microcalorimetry, etc.);
b. solid phase fermentation processes in food valorisation;
c. enhancement of cereals and milk;
d. the use of unique bacteria in food valorisation.

3. Reduction and enhancement of plant/animal by-products, including:
a. the use of bioactive components of plant by-products to increase the shelf life and healthiness of food of animal origin or to enhance the value of food of animal origin;
b. the conversion of sour whey into high value-added functional foods;
c. research into the role of antinutrients and fiber in novel foods and foodstuffs, and the optimization of their use in food technologies, including the optimal use of food waste and the creation of added value.

Contact:

Indrek Tulp
ResTA programme manager
indrek.tulp@etag.ee
+37 2731 7384, +372 5625 7257