The UK rapeseed oil market continues to grow and the increased oil production to meet the demand is associated with high amounts/volumes of by-products being created. These by-products may provide an important biological resource if processed in an effective and sustainable way to make new products to generate greater economic and social value.
Currently, rapeseed press cake (by-product of cold pressed oil production) is used primarily as a supplement for animal feed; however, this high yield/low value by-product may be considered as feedstock to other value chains. Its use as feed for insects may be an alternative which addresses the increased global demand for production of novel protein-rich ingredients and the sustainable use of raw materials with a small environmental footprint, and a higher nutritional and economic value. There is, therefore, great potential for increased valorisation of rapeseed press cake by exploiting such rich source of valuable nutrients contributing to the creation of circular opportunities and progress towards a ‘zero-waste’ approach to the production of cold pressed rapeseed oil.
The aim of the project is to valorise rapeseed press cake by
- establishing conditions for its use as feedstock for production of enriched insects;
- developing and optimising “green” water-based technologies for extraction of bioactives from press cake before its use as feed;
- establishing an evidence-base for new food product development (NPD) using insects’ derived components and for biologically active extracts;
- assessing the cost-benefit associated to its valorisation.
This project will provide the student with cutting-edge training in a cross-disciplinary area. The student will be based in the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, Robert Gordon University, under the supervision of the applicants, who have extensive experience in undertaking projects focused on chemical characterisation and assessment of bioactivity of natural product derived extracts. The student will gain experience and develop practical skills in analytical chemistry, food analysis and systems, optimisation of extraction protocols, screening for biological activity in cell based models and marketing strategies. The student will spend 2 months at the company during harvest time to gain knowledge on how seeds are harvested and stored, and on quality assurance for oil productions and conditions for optimal storage of the press cake. Shorter placements (total 4 months) will be used for training in farming crickets and identifying different feeding conditions based on crude press cake or after extraction. Collectively, this technical, industrial and academic training will provide the student with an exceptional skill set that will enable the advance of industrial biotechnology in the Scottish rapeseed oil industry.
Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a First Class Honours undergraduate degree and/or an excellent postgraduate qualification in biological sciences, industrial biotechnology, food science/technology or related subjects. Please note that this position is only open to applicants with settled status in the UK.