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ANR funded project

Enjeux agroalimentaires (DS0502)
Edition 2014


Selective extraction of high-added value molecules from coffee waste, by membrane and coupled separative technologies

Selective extraction of high-added value molecules from coffee waste, by membrane and coupled separative technologies
The waste problematic from the coffee production sector affects all production countries and requires intensification of collaborative research with an international dimension, for the detoxification of coffee by-products and wastes while adding pulp extracts value. The challenge of the project is to screen the potentialities of membrane and separative technologies, and to research sustainable recycling routes as well as pulp extract valorisation.

Potentialities of membrane and separative technologies for the treatment of coffee pulp: identification of both added-value and ultimate fractions, lock-in, conceptual and technologic anwers.
The challenge of the project is to screen the potentialities of membrane and separative technologies for the coffee pulp treatment, while authorizing possibilities of innovative couplings, focusing on two aspects with respect to both environmental preservation and sustainable management: 1) extraction/separation/concentration of high-value components and 2) removal of toxic compounds from the pulp to ensure immediate reuse (animal feeding, substrate).
The project viability will be assessed from:
- technological lock-in identification for each unit operation tested;
- recoverable fractions and ultimate identification at each stage of the process, while integrating economic (investment costs and operating costs) and environmental considerations (energy, water, toxicity and volume of wastes);
- high-added value molecules isolation (hydroxycinnamic acids, other polyphenols, caffeine);
- recycle routes identification of both liquid and solid fractions;
- technological and conceptual responses proposition (original coupling, alternative treatments, strategic reorientations).

Methodogy for the coffee pulp treatment:
The complete treatment of coffee pulp includes a technical feasibility study (funded ANR 2014 'Extramemcaf' Project) which will be supported by a willingness optimization of the treatment processes and research for innovative coupling (funded Agropolis Fondation program).
The complexity of the medium to be treated and the objectives of the overall program require the implementation of major phases of work (tasks) :
- Harvesting, conditioning and supply of coffee pulp (Task 1)
- Study of solid-liquid extraction of high-added value molecules (Task 2)
- Product and extracts characterization and control of their evolution over the treatments (Task 3)
- Study of clarification treatments (membrane processes, centrifugation) (Task 4)
- Study of fractionation and purification / concentration treatments (membrane processes, evaporation, ion exchange chromatography, electrodialysis) (Task 5)
- Research for innovative coupling techniques and strategy development for the complete treatment of the pulp (Task 6)
- Creation of an International Research Network (Task 7).


- Task 1: Harvesting at different periods performed; study of the raw material variability; study of different modes of conditioning and stabilization (influence on pulp composition and on its physico-chemical properties).
- Task 3: Development and validation of analytical protocoles for coffee pulp ; study of both physico-chemical and biologic stability of pulp and extracts.
- Task 2 : Solid-liquid extraction study: the enzymatic route under test (different profils of pectinases/cellulases used) is not suitable at the moment to extract the linked fraction of the target molecules. The influence of the conditioning mode, on experiment repeatability, has been emphasized . Also, adding an anti-oxydant to the pulp could preserve phenolic acid integrity.
- Task 4: Extracts clarification by cross-flow microfiltration successful ; production of an enzymated, microfiltered (MF), concentrated and frozen extract for French partners (Task 5).
- Task 5: Ultrafiltration (UF) investigation (for soluble macromolecule retention and target molecules purification):
5.1.-comparison of different UF membranes (inorganic and organic) with cut-off between 1 and 50kDa, in dead-end and cross-flow modes.
5.2- evaluation of permeate fluxe densities for the diluted coffee pulp extract ; selection of the best membranes with regard to fluxe values.
5.3- study of the target molecules retention: the physico-chemical characteristics of the obtained extracts are similar to those before UF treatment. UF is not capable at the moment, and under the pre-treatment conditions applied, to enhance phenolic acids purity. Complementary experiments are in progress.


- Task 1: Study of the raw material variability in progress; influence of different modes of pulp conditioning.
- Task 2: Optimisation of grinding and pressuring methods; checking enzymatic route potentiality; study of other alternative methods (fermentation, ethanol addition).
- Task 4: Optimisation of the clarification step : comparison between cross-flow filtration and centrifugation methods; identification of added-value fractions and ultimates.
- Task 5: Impact of the selected clarification step on UF performance; extract concentration by nanofiltration (NF) ; identification of added-value fractions and ultimates.
- Task 6: Strategy development for the complete treatment of the pulp (at the end of the projet).
- Task 7 : Planification of a Costa-Rica mission trip in December 2016, with all partners, with the view to create an International Research Network.

Scientific outputs and patents

- Complete analytical protocoles for coffee pulp (global analyses, phenolic and other organic acids, caffeine,...)
- Master report of Zayneb Nhouchi (09.20.2015).


IEM Institut Européen des Membranes

ANR grant: 49 996 euros
Beginning and duration: février 2015 - 24 mois

Submission abstract

This pilot research project, with immediate public-private partnership, aims to assess a panel of membrane and separation techniques that may be suitable for the treatment of coffee pulp, while allowing opportunities for innovative coupling technologies. Coffee pulp causes major environmental damages due to its toxicity but also to the huge volumes to be stored and processed. However, it contains molecules recognized for their strong industrial interest, such as polyphenols known for their antioxidant properties, caffeine having psychotropic and diuretic properties, and hydroxycinnamic acids used as precursors of high added value molecules. To our knowledge, no study using membrane and separation techniques has been carried out so far to treat and recycle wastes from this sector. Thus, the solid and complementary expertise of four partners will be turn towards these problematics: 2 French research laboratories (the Institut Européen des Membranes and Qualisud, from Montpellier) ; 1 French company (Eurodia Industrie SA, at Pertuis), 1 foreign research institute (the National Centre of Food Science and Technology, CITA in Costa Rica).

The main two objectives are as follows: 1) To extract / separate / concentrate molecules of interest, for subsequent industrial development and 2) To eliminate toxic compounds from the pulp to ensure its immediate recycling (animal feeding, substrates, compost) .

The research network instrument funding will allow us to assess the viability of the project through :
- identification of technology lock-in in every unit operation tested ;
- identification of both recoverable fractions and ultimates at each stage of processing, with respect to sustainable management (ecological, energetic and economic considerations);
- offer of technological and conceptual responses : coupling, fallback, paradigm shift.

The issue of the project is to develop a complete treatment and recovery system for coffee waste by promoting innovative, competitive and sustainable technologies (coupling and concepts). To do this, we will establish an international Research & Development Partnership Program, with scientists working at all levels of the treatment process, with coffee industries (cooperatives and independent producers), investors (exporters, importers), as well as local industries (food, (bio)processing), in order to meet the key challenges facing the food processing sector (waste recycling, toxicity and volume of wastes, water and energy consumption).


ANR Programme: Enjeux agroalimentaires (DS0502) 2014

Project ID: ANR-14-CE18-0006

Project coordinator:
Madame Stella LACOUR (Institut Européen des Membranes)


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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.