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1. WO2020109661 - METHOD FOR PRODUCING BIOACTIVE ORGANIC PRODUCTS FROM FOOD AND FEED PRODUCTIONS SIDE STREAMS

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

METHOD FOR PRODUCING BIOACTIVE ORGANIC PRODUCTS FROM FOOD AND FEED PRODUCTIONS SIDE STREAMS

FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure relates to processing food and/or feed productions side streams and more particularly to a method for producing bioactive organic products from said food and/or feed productions side streams. The present disclosure further concerns an arrangement for processing biomass from food and/or feed productions side streams.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

Industrial processing of raw materials in food and feed production industry generates large amounts of by-products, which constitute a serious disposal issue because they often emerge seasonally and are prone to microbial decay. For example, the food and feed production and industry produce in addition to its main products several so called side streams. The problems related to untreated and under processed biomass, such as food and/or feed productions side streams present a growing threat to the environment and particularly to clean water. If side streams are discarded, they are considered waste which generates environmental loading and handling fees. Restrictions concerning incineration and landfill disposal of biodegradable and other organic waste are constantly becoming more stringent. It is therefore of importance to acknowledge the potential of side streams and develop ways to utilize them profitably. In addition, exhaust gases produced in the food and feed production and industrial processes require efficient handling methods.

There are disadvantages and risks also e.g. in biogas production because of digested sludge or reject liquids. In practice, biogas production is always a centralized solution. Composting has high operating costs and a long processing time and use of organic or inert prop is necessary. On a commercial scale composting is always a centralized solution. Incineration for energy production is limited by regulations; it is an expensive solution because of high operating costs and investments. Landfill is, in practice, not an alternative in many countries; the disposal of biowaste in landfills is a significant environmental threat.

Attempts have been carried out to handle organic material. Patent publication EP 2919900 B1 discloses a method and arrangement for processing organic waste. Existing methods and arrangements have, however, only partly provided satisfactory solutions. There is still a need to provide an improved process, where particularly aeration is improved.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure provides a method and arrangement, which at least partly overcome the shortcomings of the prior art. The object of the present disclosure is achieved by a new and improved method and an arrangement which are characterized by what is stated in the independent claims. The preferred embodiments of the disclosure are disclosed in the dependent claims. The disclosure is based on the idea of producing bioactive organic end products from food and/or feed production side streams. The method and arrangement are implemented in a food and/or feed production site providing starting material straight from said production process to a process according to the present disclosure. The transfer of starting material i.e. biomass directly from the food and/or feed production process into the process of the present disclosure minimises the risk for any contamination or spontaneous anaerobic microbial process.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for producing bioactive organic product from food and/or feed production side streams, wherein the method comprises providing biomass originating from food and/or feed productions side streams comprising from 2 to 45 % (dry weight) of crude protein, minimum of 10 % (dry weight) of carbohydrates, minimum of 2 % (dry weight) of lipids (fat), maximum of 75 % (dry weight) of total fibers, where maximum of 15 % (dry weight) of fibers is lignin, and moisture content of minimum of from 30 to 85 %, providing an arrangement for processing biomass comprising a vessel with an inlet for feeding biomass into said vessel, and with an outlet for discharging processed biomass in a form of bioactive organic product from the vessel, and optionally a buffer tank for storing biomass prior to feeding into said vessel, feeding biomass into said vessel or optionally into the buffer tank through a buffer tank inlet, optionally moving the biomass gradually from the buffer tank into said vessel, moving biomass on at least one support structure in said vessel to the outlet of said vessel, supplying gas by at least two aeration blowers into the vessel and directing gas into the biomass carried on at least one support structure, through at least one hollow pipe means, recovering processed biomass at least partly in the form of a bioactive organic product from the vessel, recycling at least part of gas into biomass as recycled gas, and discharging exhaust gas from the vessel via gas discharging means.

According to an embodiment the method comprises that the temperature of the biomass originating from food and/or feed productions side streams is from 10 to 80 °C, preferably from 30 to 50 °C.

According to an embodiment the biomass from food and/or feed productions side streams comprises soy, almond, hemp, shiitake mushroom, sesame, oat, nut, quinoa, hazelnut,

cassava, faba bean, and/or seaweeds, or a combination thereof, or suitable mixtures of these.

According to an embodiment the method comprises supplying gas into the biomass by directing gas into the biomass through the pipe means which are hollow and comprise holes along the pipe means.

According to an embodiment the method comprises moving biomass on at least one support structure in said vessel in direction from the inlet to the outlet of said vessel from said at least one support structure to another at least one support structure to at least partly prevent incoming biomass to mix with biomass present in the vessel, and moving and turning over biomass on said at least one support structure with moving means comprising one or more blades having different blade angles on each support structure, and wherein moving means move biomass from the center of the support structure to the edge of the support structure, or from the edge of the support structure to the center of the support structure.

According to an embodiment the method comprises that the blades comprise rough or uneven surface.

According to an embodiment the method comprises directing gas into biomass carried on at least one support structure through at least one pipe means projecting from at least one support structure.

According to an embodiment the method further comprises removing moisture from exhaust gas.

According to an embodiment the method further comprises directing the exhaust gas comprising carbon dioxide (C02) into a cropping system, such as a farming bed, covered farming bed, raised bed, greenhouse, grow tunnel, or plant wall, or into soil.

According to an embodiment the method further comprises a step of monitoring temperature, pH value, oxygen concentration, methane concentration, ammonia concentration, relative humidity, volatile fatty acids, hydrogen sulphide, and/or microbial activity of the method.

According to an aspect of the disclosure there is provided an arrangement for processing biomass from food and/or feed productions side streams, wherein the arrangement comprises a vessel for processing food and/or feed productions side streams, an inlet for feeding biomass into said vessel, an outlet for discharging processed biomass in a form of bioactive organic product from the vessel, optionally a buffer tank with a buffer tank inlet, supporting means comprising at least one support structure for carrying biomass in said vessel, moving means for moving biomass on at least one support structure in said vessel to the outlet of said vessel, supplying means for supplying gas by at least two aeration blowers into the vessel and configured to direct gas into the biomass on said at least one support structure, gas discharging means for discharging exhaust gas, gas recycling means for recycling at least part of gas into the biomass, and recovering means for recovering processed biomass in the form of bioactive organic product from the vessel.

According to an embodiment the moving means on at least one support structure in said vessel are configured to move biomass fed via the inlet into the vessel in direction from the inlet to the outlet of said vessel from said at least one support structure to another at least one support structure to at least partly prevent incoming biomass to mix with biomass present in the vessel, and the moving means are configured at the same time to move and turn over biomass on said at least one support structure and move biomass from the center of the support structure to the edge of the support structure, or from the edge of the support structure to the center of the support structure, and the moving means comprise one or more blades having different blade angles on each support structure, wherein the blades comprise rough or uneven surface.

According to an embodiment supplying means comprise at least one pipe means projecting from at least one support structure, wherein the pipe means are hollow and comprise holes along the pipe means.

According to an embodiment the arrangement further comprises condensing means for removing moisture from exhaust gas.

According to an embodiment the arrangement further comprises means for at least a partly directing exhaust gas back to the vessel as recycled gas.

According to an embodiment the arrangement further comprises means for directing the exhaust gas which comprises carbon dioxide (C02) into a cropping system, such as a farming bed, covered farming bed, raised bed, greenhouse, grow tunnel, or plant wall, or into soil.

An aspect of the present disclosure is a use of the arrangement according to the present disclosure for processing biomass from food and/or feed productions side streams.

Another aspect of the present disclosure is a use of the method according to the present disclosure for processing biomass from food and/or feed productions side streams.

Still another aspect of the present disclosure is a use of a bioactive organic product obtained by the method of the present disclosure as a soil improvement material, feedstuff, nutrient, or source for bioactive agents.

The present inventors have surprisingly developed a novel method to process food and/or feed production side streams by utilizing an improved bioreactor. The present disclosure offers a solution which transforms food and/or feed production side streams into valuable bioactive organic end products. Especially, moist and water-carrying masses and side streams, which will quickly decompose if untreated and which are built up in large amounts, can be treated using the present method and arrangement. Soybean curd residue (SCR, okara) is a by-product of soy refinement creating notable annual waste problem. Untreated okara has only limited use as food or feed. Despite its high nutrient content okara is nowadays considered to be waste which is inefficiently refined or mainly incinerated and transferred to landfills. The processing of okara in a decentralized production model is presently unprofitable. The utilization of okara by using traditional methods requires an energy-inefficient drying process and a costly removal of the okara. Furthermore, sensitivity to contamination hinders the use of okara as feed and use in food processing. Disposing is often the only alternative due to transportation costs, disposal charges and poor energy efficiency in refinement. E.g. in China 2,800,000 tons of okara was generated 2010. Drying of okara is problematic, because water is embedded in the structure. The same problem relates to drying of okara sludge, since decomposition creates problems due to a big amount of water in sludge.

An advantage of the present method and arrangement is that a nutrient-rich, safe and pathogen-free bioactive organic end product is obtained. Another advantage is that the volume of the original biomass is reduced. Further advantages are that the disclosed method reduces disposal charges through reduced gate fees, reduces transportation costs of the waste management, reduces methane emissions and other environmental pollutants and enables decentralized waste treatment on site, as a fixed part of the production process. Recovering valuable nutrients and taking them back for reuse is indispensable for the sufficiency of global food production.

The present disclosure presents an aerobic process, where microbes decompose food and/or feed production side streams, e.g. okara in optimized conditions and without additives. If biomass originating from food and/or feed production side streams, such as okara, is fed directly from the process into the present bioreactor, the fed biomass is hygienic. After potential transportation, okara is hygienized at rising temperatures, losing about 50-70 % of its mass. The process generates water and carbon dioxide as well as

the finished product with all its valuable organic and non-organic nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphate, potassium). Thus, nutrients released from the food and/or feed productions side streams are recovered as a bioactive organic product and recirculated. The bioactive organic end product can be used for example as an organic fertilizer. The arrangement of the present disclosure can be placed on-site, where the biomass is produced. An aerobic process of the present disclosure is a closed system. Therefore, no bioaerosols, such as hydrogen sulphide is released into the environment. This is an advantage compared to open composting processes, such as drum composting or tunnel composting.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

In the following the disclosure will be described in greater detail by means of preferred embodiments with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which

Figure 1 presents a flow sheet of an embodiment of the disclosure.

Figure 2 presents a flow sheet of a second embodiment of the disclosure.

Figure 3 presents a flow sheet of a third embodiment of the disclosure.

Figure 4 presents a flow sheet of a fourth embodiment of the disclosure.

Figure 5 presents a flow sheet of a fifth embodiment of the disclosure.

Figure 6 presents a flow sheet of a sixth embodiment of the disclosure.

Figure 7 is a flow diagram example of the biomass treatment process optimized for okara.

Figure 8 presents typical temperature curves of a) biomass degradation with aerobic microbial treatment in Example 1 , and b) biomass composting process.

Figure 9 presents a flow sheet of a seventh embodiment of the disclosure.

Figure 10 presents a flow sheet of an eight embodiment of the disclosure.

Figure 1 1 presents a flow sheet of a ninth embodiment of the disclosure.

Figure 12 is another flow diagram example of the biomass treatment optimized for e.g. okara.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

Next the method for producing bioactive organic end products from food and/or feed productions side streams and some preferred embodiments thereof are described in more detail by referring to figures.

Unless otherwise specified, the terms used have the meaning commonly used in the art, such as field of biomass treatment, biomass processing and microbiology. Some terms may, however, be used to describe in a somewhat different manner and some terms benefit from additional explanation.

The term“biomass originating from food and/or feed productions side streams” refers herein to material originating from“food and/or feed production side streams” or material from“food and/or feed industry side streams”, which comprises from 2 to 45 % (DM=dry weight) of crude protein, minimum of 10 % (dry weight) of carbohydrates, minimum of 2 % (dry weight) of lipids (fat), maximum of 75 % (dry weight) of total fibers, where maximum of 15 % (dry weight) of total fibers is lignin, and moisture content of minimum of 30 to 85 %. Preferably carbohydrates are easily degradable carbohydrates, such as sugars and starch. Said biomass may comprise any food and/or feed production and industry side stream products fulfilling the abovementioned criteria of crude protein, carbohydrate, lipid, fiber and moisture contents. Examples of such food and/or feed productions side stream are biomass from processing of soy, almond, hemp, shiitake mushroom, sesame, oat, nut, quinoa, hazelnut, faba bean, cassava and/or seaweeds as well as any mixture thereof fulfilling the abovementioned criteria of crude protein, carbohydrate, lipid, fiber and moisture contents. Seaweed may be e.g. Pyropia yezoensis, Ulva species, Ascophyllum nodosum. Said biomass may comprise e.g. Soybean Curd Residue (SCR, also referred to as okara) from soy. The biomass from the processing of almond may comprise e.g. from almond hulls or almond shells.

The term’’bioactive organic end product” refers to a nutrient-rich product obtained from food and/or feed productions side streams. Nutrient-rich product refers to products which contain main nutrients usable by plants, but in addition containing other useful nutrients such as carbon, for microbes in a cultivation area.

The term“side stream” refers to by-products from industrial processing or from production prior to industrial processes, such as fish production, fishery industry, farming, plant production, mushroom production, seaweed production. Especially, industrial processing of plant-derived raw materials generates large amounts of by-products. These by-products may constitute a serious disposal issue because they often emerge seasonally and are prone to microbial decay. On the other hand, they are an abundant source of valuable compounds, for example secondary plant metabolites and cell wall materials, which may be recovered and used to functionalize foods and replace synthetic additives with ingredients of natural origin.

The term“bioreactor” or“an arrangement for processing biomass from food and/or feed productions side streams” refers to a cylindrical, vertically mounted vessel of the present disclosure. The bioreactor preferably comprises from four to ten support structures or levels. The amount of support structures is determined based on estimations of the residence time on each level, the efficiency of biological degradation and the reactor capacity. The biomass enters the first (i.e. highest) support structure from the top of the vessel through an opening near the vessel wall. Mixing arms are mounted on a rotating shaft and equipped with several mixing blades that move inside the biomass. The rotation of the shaft and hence the movement of the blades makes the material move toward the center of the reactor. When the material reaches the center of the reactor, it falls to the second level through an opening around the shaft. The same movement pattern takes place on the second level but toward the walls of the reactor, where there are openings through which the biomass falls again to the next level. Said openings may be partly or completely open or closed. The residence time is not the same on each level. The microbiological activity varies on each level and there are constant mass losses of biomass as it transforms as a result of microbiological activity.

In addition to the bioreactor vessel, the arrangement consists of aeration blowers, an exhaust gas blower, a motor for mixing, an end product conveyor, exhaust gas treatment unit and possibly a feeding system or a biomass pre-treatment system. If the biomass cannot be fed to the bioreactor by gravity, it is conveyed to the reactor using a suitable conveying equipment (e.g. belt, screw or pneumatic).

The term“micro-organism” refers to any micro-organism capable of decomposing biomass or food and/or feed production side streams. Such micro-organisms include bacteria and ray bacteria (former Actinomycetes) (and fungi) that are suitable for aerobic microbiological decomposition of organic matter. The start of aerobic decomposition is ensured by inoculating each type of biomass with a suitable decomposing micro-organism. Means for inoculating micro-organisms comprise adding microbes. Micro-organisms are present inside the vessel and after the first inoculation at the beginning of the process subsequent inoculations are not necessary during the process. A skilled person in the art can determine suitable microorganism to be used in the present invention based on the type of biomass. The method may comprise a step of monitoring microbial activity of a process. No organic or inert prop, such as lignin, is required in the present process.

Micro-organisms may include micro-organisms which compile new biomass, which enables the presence of nitrogen as organic nitrogen and not immediately soluble. For example, okara contains majority of nitrogen as organic nitrogen and not as soluble

mineral nitrogen. The process of the present disclosure not only degrades biomass, but also compiles new biomass. Nutrients are not only preserved but are transformed into more rational form.

The following detailed description refers to embodiments of the present disclosure. The presently disclosed embodiments are to be considered solely as illustrative and not restricting the scope of the invention.

The present disclosure relates to a method for producing a bioactive organic product from food and/or feed productions side streams, wherein the method comprises providing biomass 1 originating from food and/or feed productions side streams comprising from 2 to 45 % (dry weight) of crude protein, minimum of 10 % (dry weight) of carbohydrates, minimum of 2 % (dry weight) of lipids (fat), maximum of 75 % (dry weight) of total fibers, where maximum of 15 % (dry weight) of fibers is lignin, and moisture content of minimum of from 30 to 85 %, providing an arrangement for processing the biomass 1 comprising a vessel 3 with an inlet 4 for feeding the biomass 1 into said vessel 3, and with an outlet 5 for discharging processed biomass in a form of bioactive organic product 6 from the vessel 3, and optionally a buffer tank 33 for storing the biomass 1 prior to feeding into said vessel 3, feeding the biomass 1 from the food and/or feed production process into said vessel 3 or optionally into the buffer tank 33 through a buffer tank inlet 34, optionally moving the biomass gradually from the buffer tank 33 into said vessel 3, moving the biomass 1 on at least one support structure 8 in said vessel 3 to the outlet 5 of said vessel 3, supplying gas 12 by at least two aeration blowers 37 into the vessel 3 and directing gas 12 into the biomass 1 carried on at least one support structure 8, through at least one pipe means 15, recovering processed biomass at least partly in the form of a bioactive organic product 6 from the vessel 3, recycling at least part of gas 12 into biomass 1 as recycled gas 46, and discharging exhaust gas 17 from the vessel 3 via gas discharging means 16.

The temperature of the biomass 1 feed i.e. biomass 1 originating from food and/or feed productions side streams is from 10 to 80°C, preferably from 30 to 50°C, such as 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, or 80°C. In case biomass 1 is fed to the bioreactor i.e. vessel 3 or buffer tank 33 directly from a food or feed production process, the temperature is preferably 70°C.

Biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams may comprise material originating from soy, almond, hemp, shiitake mushroom, sesame, oat, nut, quinoa, hazelnut, faba bean, cassava and/or seaweeds or suitable mixtures thereof. Biomass 1 may comprise any food and/or feed production side stream fulfilling the criteria of comprising from 2 to 45 % (dry weight) of crude protein, minimum of 10 % (dry weight) of carbohydrates, minimum of 2 % (dry weight) of lipids (fat), maximum of 75 % (dry weight)

of total fibers, where maximum of 15 % (dry weight) of fibers is lignin, and moisture content of minimum of from 30 to 85 %.

Biomass 1 may comprise from 2 to 45 % (dry weight) of crude protein, such as from 5 to 40 %, from 10 to 35 % or from 15 to 30 %, for example 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, or 40 % (dry weight) of crude protein; minimum of 10 % (dry weight) of carbohydrates, such as 15, 20 or 25 % (dry weight) of carbohydrates; minimum of 2 % (dry weight) of lipids, such as 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 % (dry weight) of lipids; maximum of 75 % (dry weight) of total fibers, such as 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 % (dry weight) of total fibers, where maximum of 15 % (dry weight) is lignin, such as 5, 10 or 12 % (dry weight), and moisture content of minimum from 30 to 85 %, such as 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 %.

Preferably the method comprises continuously feeding the biomass 1 from the food and/or feed production into the buffer tank 33 or vessel 3.

The vessel 3 comprises preferably from four to ten support structures 8 or levels, such as 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 support structures 8. The amount of support structures 8 is determined based on estimations of the residence time on each level, the efficiency of biological degradation and the reactor capacity. The biomass 1 enters the first (i.e. highest) support structure 8 from the top of the vessel 3 through an opening near the vessel 3 wall. Mixing arms are mounted on a rotating shaft and equipped with several mixing blades 32 that move inside the biomass 1 . The rotation of the shaft and hence the movement of the blades 32 makes the biomass 1 move toward the center of the vessel 3. When the biomass 1 reaches the center of the vessel 3, it falls to the second support structure through an opening around the shaft. The same movement pattern takes place on the second support structure 8 but toward the walls of the vessel 3, where there are openings through which the biomass 1 falls again to the next support structure 8 or level. The residence time is not the same on each support structure 8. The microbiological activity varies on each support structure 8 and there are constant mass losses of biomass 1 as it transforms as a result of microbiological activity.

Using a vessel 3 comprising at least one or several support structures 8 and moving means 10 biomass 1 fed via the inlet 4 into the vessel 3 is moved in direction from the inlet 4 to the outlet 5 from one support structure 8 to another support structure 8 to at least partly prevent incoming biomass 1 to mix with the biomass 1 present in the vessel 3.

Preferably, moving biomass 1 on at least one support structure 8 in said vessel 3 comprises moving biomass 1 in direction from the inlet 4 to the outlet 5 of said vessel 3 from said at least one support structure 8 to another at least one support structure 8 to at least partly prevent incoming biomass 1 to mix with biomass 1 present in the vessel 3, and moving and turning over biomass 1 on said at least one support structure 8 with moving means 10 comprising one or more blades 32 having different blade angles on each support structure 8, and wherein moving means 10 move biomass 1 from the center of the support structure 8 to the edge of the support structure 8, or from the edge of the support structure 8 to the center of the support structure 8.

Preferably, directing gas 12 into biomass 1 carried on at least one support structure 8 comprises directing gas 12 through at least one pipe means 15 projecting from at least one support structure 8. Pipe means 15 projecting from the support structure 8 are preferably hollow and comprise holes 35 along the pipe means 15. Size of the holes 35 is from 1 to 4 mm in diameter, such as 1 , 2, 3, or 4 mm, preferably 3 mm or less than 3 mm in diameter. Preferably, holes 15 are located so that when the height of biomass 1 on each support structure 8 is high, there are holes 35 along the entire pipe means 15. When the height of biomass 1 low, holes 35 are preferably located in lower part of the pipe mean 15. Proper aeration of the biomass 1 is important to the present method i.e. successful aerobic microbial degradation of biomass 1 originating from food and/or feed productions side streams. Gas 12, such as air, oxygen, or ozone is fed inside the biomass 1 through pipe means 15 i.e. aeration pipes on each support structure 8. The openings or holes 35 along the pipe means 15 or aeration pipes are located to ensure an even distribution of the gas 12 on each support structure 8. Formation of anaerobic pockets inside the biomass 1 is prevented using effective aeration i.e. directing gas 12 inside biomass 1 . There are several aeration pipes on every level, even though the amount of aeration pipes may vary. Generally, the most air is needed on the top levels and less below the middle line, and therefore there might be more aeration pipes on the top levels. Thus, the amount of oxygen is highest on the top levels. Higher amount of oxygen may be needed for example to drying on the lower levels. The lowest level is used for ensuring that the material is adequately dry when it leaves the reactor and therefore there are preferably more aeration pipes on the lowest support structure 8 than on the other low levels. At least two aeration blowers 37 are used in the process, as at least two blowers 37 give more flexibility for directing the air where it is needed the most. By using at least two, preferably more than two, aeration blowers 37 it is possible to balance potentially occurring pressure loss, since it is not possible to use high pressure, when supplying gas 12 or aerating the biomass 1 .

Preferably, the aeration piping system is also equipped with shut-off valves located at each level. The shut-off valves are closed when there is no material on the level or for some reason the aeration of the level is not recommended. During normal operation all the shut- off valves are fully open. Preferably aeration of the biomass 1 is carried out using slight vacuum or slight over pressure.

As the biomass 1 moves through the reactor, it is degraded and/or recompiled by different aerobic bacteria. Bacterial seeding is done on the first level at start-up to introduce the right type of bacteria into the reactor. The seeding material is produced specifically for the biomass 1 material to be treated before the start-up of a new bioreactor process and fed to the reactor with the first batch of biomass 1 to be treated.

In an embodiment the seeding is made to shorten a batch process. The seeding is made for example using okara. The collected okara is refed back to the reactor within five to six days. Preparation of the seed can be passed if the ready-made seed is available. Suitable seedings are e.g. aerobically processed okara from previous production or from another factory, or aerobically treated biowaste. Preferably, seed is mixed with the feed at the beginning of the process.

When biomass 1 is fed to the top of the reactor, bacteria start to decompose the material in the presence of oxygen. No support material, such as lignin, is needed in the process unlike in traditional composting. However, the seeding material is fed with the first batch of biomass 1 . In the reactor, aerobic bacteria decompose biomass 1 and produce carbon dioxide, water and heat. Carbon dioxide is evacuated from the reactor as exhaust gas 17 together with water vapor and in the best case could be used as C02-fertilizer in greenhouses or in fields. As the bacteria degrade biomass 1 , they release considerable amounts of heat, which causes the existing water and the water from bacterial metabolism to evaporate. Therefore, no liquid water is removed from the process. The temperature of the biomass 1 in the reactor is controlled through the addition of water spray if needed. The cooling water must be colder than the biomass 1 but the most important cooling effect is provided by the evaporation of the cooling water, as evaporation requires a lot of energy (heat).

Each support structure 8 comprises a special microbe content. During service cleaning of the equipment, microbial population from each of the support structures is collected and recovered and stored in a freezing temperature. Service cleaning may be carried out e.g. using pneumatic air, ozone treatment or steam.

As biomass 1 moves toward the bottom of the reactor, it passes through different microbiological stages. If mixed biomass 1 is treated, the temperature in the mass reaches levels where thermophilic bacteria thrive. The high temperature provides sanitation of the mass by killing pathogens. If by-products of food production processes, that contain a lot of nitrogen, are being treated, it might be more beneficial for the process to keep the temperatures quite low level in the range where mesophilic bacteria thrive. Even if high temperatures are reached at the beginning of the process through thermophilic bacterial degradation, the temperature at the end of the process is within the mesophilic temperature range. Microbes not only degrade biomass 1 but also produce new biomass. Non-degraded biomass and new biomass comprise at least 20% of the original dry matter i.e. reject.

Optionally a motor 49 driven means for blending biomass 1 is used in the method.

Optionally buffer tank 33 is included in the arrangement to secure continuous process.

Biomass 1 is fed into the vessel 3 or optionally into the buffer tank 33 by gravity or conveyed using a suitable conveying equipment, such as a belt, screw or pneumatic. Any known transfer means in the art for feeding biomass 1 into the vessel 3 or buffer tank 33 may be used.

The method further comprises a recovering step of at least partly recovering bioactive organic product 6 that is discharged via the outlet 5.

Biomass 1 may be moved using blades 32 adjusted to moving arms. Preferably biomass 1 is moved using adjustable moving means 10. The arm assemblies may be supported at the common central shaft, which revolves and causes the arms and wings to revolve with it. Moving means 10 at the same time move and turn over biomass 1 on the support structure 8. The central shaft preferably revolves at a constant speed. Preferably the moving means comprise one or more blades 32. Blades 32 in moving means 10 preferably have different blade angles on each support structure 8. Moving means 10 move biomass 1 to desired direction at desired speed, preferably at a constant speed. Preferably moving means 10 move biomass 1 from the center of the support structure to the edge of the support structure 8, and/or from the edge of the support structure 8 to the center of the support structure 8. Moving means 10, such as blades 32 transfer the biomass 1 a from one support structure 8 to a next support structure 8.

In an embodiment the blades 32 have rough or uneven surface. Rough or uneven surface may enable inoculation of microbes on each support structure 8. In a preferred embodiment blades 32 are located unevenly on each support structure.

Preferably, there are no blades 32 located in the center of each support structure i.e. near the central shaft. In other words, an area near the central shaft is free from blades 32.

The shape of the blade 32 is such that the end of the blade 32 is bended and there is a hook shaped tip. The blade angle is adjustable. Preferably, the blades 32 can be adjusted using remote control and an optical eye which monitors the biomass 1 in the vessel 3.

At least two air blowers 37 are needed to supply gas 12 and fulfil the need of air. Using controlling means 50 the amount of air blow can be optimized on each support structure 8.

In an embodiment said gas 12 is air, oxygen or ozone, or a combination thereof. The amount of gas 12 fed to the arrangement should be as low as possible (still being sufficient for active aerobic degradation, cooling and drying) as lower velocity makes it easier for the bacteria to“grab” the air. The amount of air to be fed to the reactor is for example from 300 m3/h to 700 m3/h. The aeration blower 37 feeding the upper stages should preferably have more capacity than the aeration blower 37 feeding the lower stages, but this shall be determined by calculations.

The method further comprises at least one pre-treatment step for processing the biomass 1 to be fed into the vessel 3, or at least one additional process step, wherein the pre treatment step or process step is selected from the group consisting of crushing the biomass 1 , heating the biomass 1 , cooling the biomass 1 , adding water to the biomass 1 , ozone treating the biomass 1 , and oxygen enriching the biomass 1 .

Ozone treatment or oxygen enrichment may be performed if the biomass 1 has already started to decompose or rot. The addition of water to the biomass 1 to be used as a feed may be carried out if the feed is too dry.

Exhaust gases 17 produced in the process are discharged from the vessel 3 via gas discharging means 16, such as an exhaust gas blower 39.

Exhaust gases 17 are passed through an exhaust gas treatment unit 40 before they are discharged to the surrounding. The exhaust gas treatment unit 40 comprises at least one of the following: an ammonia scrubber 36, a heat exchanger 48 and a filter 28. The purpose of the ammonia scrubber 36 is to capture the ammonia escaping from the process. The ammonia reacts with sulphuric acid yielding ammonium sulphate that, after adequate pre treatment, can be used as an inorganic nitrogen fertilizer. After the ammonia scrubber 36, the exhaust gas will be led through a filter that removes any solid particles that might have been entrained with it as well as possible odours. After the exhaust gas treatment unit 40, the gas is safe for the nature and humans and can freely be discharged.

In an embodiment at least part of gas 12 is recycled back to the arrangement as recycled gas 46. Preferably, 0-100 % of gas 12 or exhaust gas 17 is recycled back to the vessel 3, preferably gas is directed to the bottom part of the vessel 3. Ammonia may be removed from gas 12 and further used as fertilizer. Gas 12 may be filtered, and the end product may be used as a fertilizer. Preferably, gas 12 may be directly used as fertilizer.

In an embodiment the method further comprises removing moisture from exhaust gas 17.

In an embodiment of the method at least a part of exhaust gas 17 is directed back to the vessel 3. For example, 0 - 100 % of exhaust gas 17 is recycled back to the bottom part of the vessel 3. The exhaust gas 17 comprises carbon dioxide (C02), but may contain other substances as well, such as nitrogen.

Preferably, at least part of gas 12 is directed or recycled into biomass in the bottom part of the vessel 3. In the bottom part of the vessel 3, in other words on the support structures 8 situated in lower part of the vessel 3, biomass 1 has already been processed and is able to function as a filter. This may reduce a need for further filtration. Furthermore, it is possible to recover nutrients and bioaerosols from the gas 12 or exhaust gas 17. Recycling at least part of gas 12 may have an effect on a composition of the gas 12 used in the process and on the process control. Furthermore, recycling at least part of gas 12 into biomass 1 , may act as a control mechanism of the process (i.e. drying, heating, composition).

In an embodiment the method further comprises directing the exhaust gas 17 comprising carbon dioxide (C02) into a cropping system 41 , such as a farming bed, covered farming bed, raised bed, greenhouse, grow tunnel, growth platform or plant wall, or into soil as a C02 fertilizer. In an embodiment where the exhaust gas 17 is directed into a greenhouse, the exhaust gas 17 is directed into farming bed, growing bed or any suitable growth platform. Growing bed, such as peat, inert, water or other suitable growth platform or culture medium filters C02 from gas 12 and prevents C02 from ending up into atmosphere.

In an embodiment exhaust gas 17, preferably exhaust gas 17 rich in carbon dioxide and/or nitrogen, to be used as a fertilizer is directed via pipe system directly into soil. Pipe system may comprise drainpipes or pipes corresponding drainpipes. Exhaust gas 17 comprising nitrogen benefits nitrogen fixing organisms present in soil. In other words, soil may act as exhaust gas 17 filter.

In an embodiment the processed biomass in the form of a bioactive organic product 6 is discharged from the vessel 3 via an end product conveyor 38.

The bioactive organic end product 6 of the process is a solid, dry material taken from the bottom of the reactor vessel 3. Often the suitable method for extracting the end product is conveying with a screw or a belt conveyor. The bioactive organic end product 6 contains all the potassium and phosphorus and most of the nitrogen contained by the initial organic side stream. The end product of okara treatment, for example, contains very high amounts of especially potassium and phosphorus as these elements are abundant in soybeans whose processing yields okara.

In a continuous monoculture plant cultivation i.e. continuous growing of one type of crop, where plant parts are not returned to soil, the soil population species becomes narrow and their amount is decreased in comparison to a productive normal soil population. Consequently, cultivated plants are not able to utilize nutrients of the soil minerals, since components promoting fertility run low in soil. The problem culminates especially in cultivation which includes several harvests in one year. Furthermore, in torrid zone, where evaporation is substantial, the continuous use of inorganic saline fertilizers results in formation of saline soil, which makes the land unsuitable for cultivation.

Bioactive organic product of the present disclosure contains high concentration of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous and includes nutrients in partially rapidly soluble format, being accessible to plants immediately after spreading to the field. Part of the nutrients dissolve slowly and the organic component present in bioactive organic product revives micro-organisms and promotes remaining of organic material in top layer of soil.

The method may comprise a step of controlling or monitoring the process. Several parameters can be monitored. These include temperature in different sections of the reactor as well as temperature, oxygen, methane and ammonia concentration, and relative humidity of the exhaust gas. These parameters are used as indicators of the performance of the process and help in adjusting for example the feed air flow. Indicators of insufficient aeration are for example too low temperature in the reactor and occurrence of methane in the exhaust gas 12. Furthermore, pH value, relative humidity, volatile fatty acids (VFA) and hydrogen sulphide in exhaust gas 12 and/or microbial activity of the method may be monitored. Volatile fatty acids and hydrogen sulphide are formed in the beginning of anaerobic decomposition.

With ammonia, significant amounts of nitrogen leave the process and thus the ammonia content of the end product is reduced. This is not a desirable phenomenon and process optimization must be done to minimize ammonia evaporation. The reason why ammonia is released from biomass 1 such as okara is that it contains considerable amounts of

nitrogen, which in turn results in rapid degradation in the presence of oxygen. Rapid degradation releases large quantities of heat. Ammonia is the most volatile at high temperatures and high pH, and therefore it would be beneficial for the process to maintain the temperature rather low. Preferably, the reactor works without insulation.

Sampling, analysing and documentation of the process is carried out by taking samples from different stages during the start-up and operation. For example, the moisture content of the biomass 1 on different stages as well as its appearance, smell, colour and other parameters are detected.

According to an embodiment, the present disclosure relates to an arrangement for processing biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams presented in Fig. 1 , comprising a vessel 3 for processing biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams, an inlet 4 for feeding biomass 1 into said vessel 3, an outlet 5 for discharging processed biomass in a form of bioactive organic product 6 from the vessel 3, supporting means 7 comprising at least one support structure 8 for carrying biomass 1 in said vessel 3, moving means 10 for moving biomass 1 on at least one support structure 8 in said vessel 3, supplying means 1 1 for supplying gas 12 by at least two aeration blowers 37 into the vessel 3 and configured to direct gas 12 into the biomass 1 , gas discharging means 16 for discharging exhaust gas 17, gas recycling means 47 for recycling at least part of gas 12 into the biomass 1 , and recovering means 13 for recovering processed biomass in the form of bioactive organic product 6 from the vessel 3. Said moving means are configured to move biomass 1 fed via the inlet 4 into the vessel 3 in direction from the inlet 4 to the outlet 5 of said vessel 3 from said at least one support structure 8 to another said at least one support structure 8 to at least partly prevent incoming biomass 1 to mix with biomass 1 present in the vessel 3. Said moving means 10 are configured at the same time to move and turn over biomass 1 on the support structure and move biomass 1 from the center of the support structure 8 to the edge of the support structure 8, or from the edge of the support structure 8 to the center of the support structure 8. Said moving means 10 comprise one or more blades 32 having different blade angles on each support structure 8, wherein the blades 32 comprise rough or uneven surface. By adjusting angles of the blades 32 on each support structure 8 the movement pace of biomass 1 on each support structure may be slowed down.

Said supplying means 1 1 comprise at least one pipe means 15 projecting from at least one support structure 8, wherein the pipe means 15 are preferably hollow and comprise holes 35 along the pipe means 15. Preferably the holes 35 are located in a way that gas 12 is directed into biomass 1 and as little as possible into the airspace of the vessel 3.

Optionally, the arrangement comprises a buffer tank 33 with a buffer tank inlet 34.

In an embodiment the vessel 3 comprises a top 29 comprising the inlet 4 for feeding biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams. In an embodiment the feeding means 31 for feeding biomass 1 into the vessel 3 may locate remote from the inlet 4, such as on the ground beside the vessel 3. Conduit means may be used to feed biomass 1 to vessel 3 or buffer tank 33.

In an embodiment the vessel 3 comprises a bottom 30 comprising the outlet 5 for discharging processed biomass 1 in the form of bioactive organic product 6. Preferably end product conveyor is used for discharging the bioactive organic product 6.

The arrangement is preferably of industrial size. The vessel 3 may be made of any suitable inert material, such as stainless steel. The vessel 3 may be coated with any suitable material. The vessel 3 is airtight, air proof or operates under light vacuum apart from an inlet 4 for feeding biomass 1 to be processed into the vessel 3, an outlet 5 for discharging processed biomass 1 from the vessel 3, supplying means 1 1 for supplying gas 12 into the vessel 3, and gas discharging means 16 for discharging exhaust gas 17. Because of the closed process the odors in the surroundings of the vessel 3 are meaningless and consequently no harmful gases are released into the atmosphere.

The size of the vessel 3 may be of any size suitable for processing biomass 1 . Preferably the diameter of the reaction vessel 3 is from about 1 to 6 meters, such as 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 meters, more preferably from about 1 to 3 meters. The height of the reaction vessel 3 is preferably from about 0.5 to 10 meters, such as 0.5, 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 meters. More preferably the vessel 3 is from about 4 to 6 meters in height. In an embodiment of the invention the size of the vessel 3 is about 1 .7 m in diameter and about 2 meters in height. In another embodiment the diameter of the vessel 3 is about 3 meters and the height about 5 meters. The net volume of the reaction vessel 3 may be from 3 m3 to 280 m3. In a non-limiting example of the invention the net volume is about 3.5 m3, wherein the height of the vessel 3 is 2 meters and the diameter 1 .5 meters. In another example the height of the vessel 3 is 5.5 meters and the diameter 3.3 meters, the net volume being 47 m3. In another example the height of the vessel 3 is 5 meters and the diameter 3 meters, the net volume being 37 m3.

In an embodiment the vessel 3 comprises several support structures 8, preferably from four to ten support structures 8, such as 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 support structures 8 or supporting layers. Support structure 8 may comprise openings. In alternate layers an opening in the support structure 8 is distal to the central pole an in alternate support

structures 8 proximal to the central pole. The openings may be partly or completely open or closed.

In an embodiment the arrangement comprises a motor 49 for blending the biomass 1 .

Preferably moving means 10 are adjustable. Moving means 10 may comprise one or more blades 32, preferably adjusted to moving arms. Arm assemblies may be supported at the common central shaft. Arm assembly is preferably curved or arched. The central shaft revolves and causes the blades 32 to revolve with it. The central shaft revolves preferably at the constant speed. Blades 32 in moving means 10 are preferably configured to have different blade 32 angles on each support structure 8. Moving means 10 are preferably configured to move biomass 1 to desired direction with a desired speed, preferably at a constant speed. The shape of the blade 32 is such that the end of the blade 32 is bended and there is a hook shaped tip. The blade angle is adjustable. Shape and rough surface of blades 32 promote constant and smooth aeration of biomass 1 . Furthermore, rough or uneven surface of blades 32 maintains or helps to maintain a unique microbe population on each support structure 8. Preferably, the blades 32 are adjustable using remote control and an optical eye which monitors the biomass 1 in the vessel 3.

In a preferred embodiment blades 32 are located unevenly on each support structure.

Preferably, there are no blades 32 located in the center of each support structure i.e. near the central shaft. In other words, an area near the central shaft is free from blades 32.

The arrangement comprises transfer means for feeding biomass 1 into the vessel 3 or optionally into the buffer tank 33 by gravity or conveyed using a suitable conveying equipment, such as a belt, screw or pneumatic. Any known transfer means for feeding biomass 1 into the vessel 3 or buffer tank 33 may be used.

In an embodiment the supplying means 1 1 for supplying gas 12 into the vessel 3 are configured to feed air, oxygen or ozone, or a combination thereof. Gas 12 is fed to the arrangement by at least two aeration blowers 37. This enables to direct the gas 12 where it is needed the most and the amount of gas 12 on different stages can be adjusted more precisely.

In an embodiment the arrangement comprises condensing means 9 for removing moisture from exhaust gas 17 or recycled gas 46, latter of which is fed back to vessel 3.

The arrangement further comprises one or more pre-treatment means 18 for processing the biomass 1 to be fed into the vessel 3, wherein the pre-treatment means are selected from the group consisting of crushing means 19, heating means 20, cooling means 21 , ozone treating means 44, and oxygen enriching means 45.

The arrangement further comprises a monitoring means 22 for monitoring the process. The monitoring means 22 are configured to monitor temperature, pH value, oxygen concentration, methane concentration, ammonia concentration, relative humidity, volatile fatty acids, hydrogen sulphide, and/or microbial activity of the method.

Temperature is measured inside the biomass 1 . Ammonium concentration in the vessel 3 is monitored and adjusted. The process is controlled based on the values of these variables. Temperature sensors are preferably placed so that they measure the temperature inside the biomass 1 . Knowing only the temperature of the gas phase inside the reactor does not give information enough about the actual microbiological state on different stages nor does it give any indication of possible problems related to too high temperatures in the biomass 1 .

The arrangement further comprises insulation means 23 for thermally insulating the vessel 3.

The gas discharging means 16 comprises an ammonia scrubber 36, a heat exchanger 48 and/or a filter 28.

The arrangement comprises means for at least a partly directing exhaust gas 17 back to the vessel 3.

The arrangement further comprises means for directing the exhaust gas 17 comprising carbon dioxide (C02) into a cropping system, such as a farming bed, covered farming bed, raised bed, greenhouse, grow tunnel, or plant wall, or into soil. Preferably exhaust gas 17 comprises other ingredients than C02.

In an embodiment an exhaust gas blower 39 and/or an exhaust gas treatment unit 40 are used. An exhaust gas treatment unit 40 may comprise ammonia scrubber 36, exhaust gas blower 39 and/or filter 28.

The present disclosure also relates to use of the arrangement according to the present disclosure for processing biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams.

The present disclosure also relates to use of the method according to the present disclosure for processing biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams.

The present disclosure also relates to use of a bioactive organic product 6 obtained by the method of the present invention as a soil improvement material, feedstuff, nutrient, or source for bioactive agents, or as fertilizer.

According to an embodiment disclosed in Fig. 2, an arrangement of the present disclosure comprises a vessel 3 for producing a bioactive organic product 6 from biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams. The arrangement further comprises supplying gas 12 and discharging exhaust gas 17 from the vessel 3.

According to an embodiment disclosed in Fig. 3 an arrangement of the present disclosure comprises a vessel 3 for producing a bioactive organic product 6 from biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams. The arrangement further comprises supplying gas 12 and discharging exhaust gas 17 from the vessel 3 via a filter 28.

According to an embodiment disclosed in Fig. 4 an arrangement of the present disclosure comprises a vessel 3 for producing a bioactive organic product 6 from biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams. The arrangement further comprises supplying gas 12 and discharging exhaust gas 17 from the vessel 3. Water 26 is removed from exhaust gas 17 using a condenser 25. At least part of exhaust gas 17 is recycled as recycled gas 46 back into the vessel 3.

According to an embodiment disclosed in Fig. 5 an arrangement of the present disclosure comprises a vessel 3 for producing a bioactive organic product 6 from biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams. The arrangement further comprises supplying gas 12 and discharging exhaust gas 17 from the vessel 3. Water 26 is removed from exhaust gas 17 using a condenser 25. Ammonia 51 is removed from exhaust gas 17 using ammonia scrubber 36. A least part of exhaust gas 17 is recycled as recycled gas 46 back into the vessel 3.

According to an embodiment disclosed in Fig. 6 crop 42, which is harvested from plants grown from seed 52 in a cropping system 41 , is directed to food and/or feed production process 43. Biomass 1 originating from food and/or feed productions 43 side streams is fed into a vessel 3 for producing a bioactive organic product 6. The arrangement further comprises discharging exhaust gas 17 from the vessel 3. Water 26 is removed from exhaust gas 17 using a condenser 25. A least part of exhaust gas 17, and water 26 is directed into a cropping system 41 . Bioactive organic product 6 is used as a fertilizer in the cropping system 41 .

According to an embodiment the present disclosure relates to an arrangement for processing biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams presented in Fig. 9, comprising a vessel 3 for processing biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams, an inlet 4 for feeding biomass 1 into said vessel 3, an outlet 5 for discharging processed biomass in a form of bioactive organic product 6 from the vessel 3, at least one support structure 8 for carrying biomass 1 in said vessel 3, optional moving means 10 for moving biomass 1 on at least one support structure 8 in said vessel 3 to the outlet 5 of said vessel 3, supplying means 1 1 for supplying gas 12 by at least two aeration blowers 37 into the vessel 3 and configured to direct gas 12 into the biomass 1 on said at least one support structure 8, gas discharging means 16 for discharging exhaust gas 17, gas recycling means 47 for recycling at least part of gas 12 into the biomass 1 , and recovering means 13 for recovering processed biomass in the form of bioactive organic product 6 from the vessel 3.

According to an embodiment the present disclosure relates to an arrangement for processing biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams presented in Fig.

10, comprising a vessel 3 for processing biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams, an inlet 4 for feeding biomass 1 into said vessel 3, an outlet 5 for discharging processed biomass in a form of bioactive organic product 6 from the vessel 3, at least one support structure 8 for carrying biomass 1 in said vessel 3, moving means 10 comprising one of more blades 32 for moving biomass 1 on at least one support structure 8 in said vessel 3 to the outlet 5 of said vessel 3, supplying means 1 1 comprising at least one pipe means 15 projecting from at least one support structure for supplying gas 12 by at least two aeration blowers 37 into the vessel 3 and configured to direct gas 12 into the biomass 1 on said at least one support structure 8, gas discharging means 16 for discharging exhaust gas 17, gas recycling means 47 for recycling at least part of gas 12 into the biomass 1 , and recovering means 13 for recovering processed biomass in the form of bioactive organic product 6 from the vessel 3.

According to an embodiment the present disclosure relates to an arrangement for processing biomass 1 from food and/or feed productions side streams presented in Fig.

1 1 , comprising a vessel 3, pre-treatment unit 2 comprising pre-treatment means selected from the group consisting of crushing means 19, heating means 20, cooling means 21 , ozone treating means 44, and oxygen enriching means 45, end product container 24, feeding means 31 and controlling means 50.

Preferably, the bioreactor is located where the biomass 1 to be treated is produced and thus transportation of the biomass 1 is avoided. It is also possible to locate the bioreactor in a place where it serves a larger amount of biomass producers, keeping the distance between the biomass producer i.e. food and/or feed production and the treatment unit (bioreactor) as short as possible.

In the process, biomass 1 is treated aerobically, which reduces the weight and volume of the biomass 1 by transforming it to a useful end product and gases. The bioactive organic product 6 contains the nutrients fed into the reactor in the biomass 1 , and in the product the nutrients are in a highly concentrated form.

Table 1. Chemical and physical characteristics of food and/feed production side streams or mixtures (compositions) thereof suitable as starting material.


In an embodiment of the present disclosure Soybean Curd Residue (SCR, okara) obtained from soy production process is used as biomass 1 feed. The process may be carried out as presented in Fig. 7. The process proceeds as follows: Biomass 1 from soy production process is fed into the reaction vessel 3. Optionally feeding of continuous culture may be carried out. Temperature is from 60 to 70°C and moisture is 70 - 80 %. On the uppermost support structure temperature rises fast and C02 is formed. There is no need for 02 excess. Soluble carbohydrates (about 4 %) and short-chain fatty acids begin to decompose. Thermophilic decomposition continues at the second support structure 8. Decomposition of carbohydrates (about 4 - 6 %) and short-chain fatty acids continues, and long-chain fatty acids begin to decompose. Thermophilic decomposition continues at the 3rd support structure 8. C02 is formed, decomposition of long-chain fatty acids continues, cell wall polysaccharides begin to decompose, and decomposition of proteins starts. Thermophilic decomposition continues at the 4th support structure. C02, NH3 and internal water are formed. Long-chain fatty acids, cell wall polysaccharides (fibers) and proteins continue to decompose. Thermophilic decomposition continues at the 5th support structure. C02, NH3 and internal water are formed. Smelling components are formed. Long-chain fatty acids, cell wall polysaccharides and proteins continue to decompose. Thermophilic decomposition continues at the 6th stage. C02 is formed. There is no need for 02 excess.

Long-chain fatty acids, cell wall polysaccharides and proteins continue to decompose. New CH-chains start to build up. Mesophilic decomposition at the 7th stage. C02 is formed. New CH-chains are formed. There is no need for 02 excess. Long-chain fatty acids, cell wall polysaccharides and proteins continue to decompose. New CH-chains are decomposed. At the end of the process at the bottom of the reactor with decreasing moisture the reactions stop.

In another embodiment of the present disclosure Soybean Curd Residue (SCR, okara) obtained from soy production process is used as biomass 1 feed and the process may be carried out as presented in Fig. 12.

EXAMPLE

Fullscale piloting

Partly anaerobically degraded biomass was fed into the vessel via inlet. The temperature of the mass was low, and the biomass was heated with inlet gas to reach the minimum temperature which is required for the natural aerobic microbial degradation. As the defined operation conditions were required, several reaction parameters were constantly monitored. Temperature, humidity as well as methane, ammonium and oxygen concentrations of the exhaust gas indicated the function of the process and helped in adjusting for example the feed air flow. Aerobic microbial degradation is typically related to increase in the mass temperature as presented in Figure 8. Processing biomass with this present method increases the temperature as high as 80°C. For comparison to that, the temperature of typical composting process has its maximum at 60 - 65°C. The increase in temperature indicates actual operation of aerobic decomposition of biomass.

In the pilot experiment, oxygen was fed inside the mass as air through aeration pipes. The performance of aeration was monitored by comparing the oxygen concentrations in inlet and outlet gases. It was seen that the oxygen content decreased during the process maintaining, however, high enough for aerobic microbes. As third verification of correct performance of the process, the humidity of the outlet gas was very high reaching the maximum at near 100%. The metabolism of microbes generates carbon dioxide and water, the latter of which could be detected from the outlet gas. The temperature of the process was high enough to vaporize the water the microbes produced.

In this pilot experiment, the biomass was partly anaerobically degraded before it was fed to the reactor, this means the process should have been efficient in turning the process aerobic. The anaerobic process was detected from the outlet gas as remarkable methane occurrence at the beginning of the reaction. The proper aeration system and evenly distributed air terminated the anaerobic degradation during the aerobic process, and methane was no longer detected from the outlet gas.

The mass weight loss of the biomass was around 70% from the initial mass. The temperature of the end product was measured as 65°C and moisture was 18.0 - 44.0 Wt.%. This experiment was performed also for okara as a starting material. Processing biomass with the present method requires adjustment of process parameters and is highly dependent on the properties of the starting material. Okara has a low dry mass content and the water is within the cells. Okara contains high amounts of crude fat, crude protein, easily degradable carbohydrates (Table 2), which are important for aerobic microbes. NDF:s (non-degradable fibers) surround the protein which make okara challenging to further utilize within food and feed industry.

Table 2. Chemical composition of Okara, (Oy Soya Ab, Hanko, Finland)


In another experiment, the starting material was the soy refining residue okara. The feed was already started to degrade anaerobically and had its water content of 80 wt.-%. Soy refining residue okara was mixed with a small amount of the end product obtained from the previous piloting. The end product worked as a seed for the process, which was carried out as former described. Biomass and okara used in piloting had both started to degrade anaerobically. Okara, is easily degraded by anaerobic microbes and its treatment with aerobic microbial methods is challenging. The reaction, however, terminated the metabolism of these anaerobic microbes in both cases.

LIST OF REFERENCE NUMERALS USED

1 . Biomass

2. Pre-treatment unit

3. Vessel

4. Inlet

5. Outlet

6. Bioactive organic product

7. Supporting means

8. Support structure

9. Condensing means

10. Moving means

1 1. Supplying means

12. Gas

13. Recovering means

14. Rotating means

15. Pipe means

16. Gas discharging means

17. Exhaust gas

18. Pre-treatment means

19. Crushing means

20. Heating means

21. Cooling means

22. Monitoring means

23. Insulation means

24. End product container

25. Condenser

26. Water

27. Shredder

28. Filter

29. Top

30. Bottom

31. Feeding means

32. Blade

33. Buffer tank

34. Buffer tank inlet

35. Hole

36. Ammonia scrubber

37. Aeration blower

38. End product conveyor 39. Exhaust gas blower

40. Exhaust gas treatment unit

41. Cropping system

42. Crop

43. Food and/or feed production process

44. Ozone treating means

45. Oxygen enriching means

46. Recycled gas

47. Gas recycling means

48. Heat exchanger

49. Motor

50. Controlling means

51. Ammonia

52. Seed