Based on its recent analysis of the waste oil upcycling industry, Frost & Sullivan recognises Suzhou Hydal Biotech Co. Ltd. (hereinafter as “Suzhou Hydal Biotech”) with the 2015 European Frost & Sullivan Award for Technology Innovation for turning waste cooking oil into a biodegradable polymer, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). With this technology, Hydal addresses the two biggest concerns of the waste oil upcycling industry: the limitations of feedstock suitability and sufficiency of feedstock supply. Hydal has obtained evaluation on excellent level both for technology and business potential.
Using Hydal’s innovative technology, waste cooking oils, along with inorganic salts as nutrients, are fermented by naturally occurring microorganisms in the presence of water, air, and steam. The fermentation produces PHA, which is an energy source for the microorganisms and stored as grains in the produced broth. The produced PHA is harvested by isolating and disrupting the microorganisms and then extracting and precipitating the polymer using a solvent, which is recovered and removed. The quality of the waste cooking oil was found not to affect the quality of PHA produced.
As Hydal is able to use any cooking oil, feedstock suitability and sustainability are non-issues. This technology benefit helps the industry avoid the potential oversupply of bio-based waste oils when they are deemed unsuitable for motor oils application. Moreover, microorganisms have been known to be tolerant toward toxic elements; as such, the possibility of waste oil contamination and consequent disruption is remote.
“In China, the huge surplus of used frying oil has resulted in a black market that recycles the oil for cooking, causing major health risks,” said Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Jennifer Tan. “Suzhou Hydal Biotech will make the most of China’s huge waste cooking oil market and resolve its accompanying problems with its unique technology.”
Hydal’s technology is more environmentally sustainable than waste oils re-refining technologies. Current re-refining technologies, such as vacuum distillation, are energy intensive, whereas Hydal’s fermentation-based technology uses less energy, in milder operating conditions. Additionally, by virtue of being fermentation-based, the Hydal solution is modular and can be easily scaled to the required capacity.
Besides solving the challenge of waste oils disposal, Hydal’s PHA emits less greenhouse gases and is almost carbon-neutral due to ‘free’ energy gains from kitchen waste processing. The twofold benefit, from the technology and end product, aligns the technology with the ‘Innovating to Zero’ Mega Trend, as it ensures zero carbon, zero waste, and zero emissions.
Apart from adding to the technology’s marketability by being biodegradable, Hydal’s PHA also costs less than those in existing markets because the feedstock is unwanted waste. The only feedstock costs incurred are on the collection and transportation of waste cooking oils. The well established cooking oil collection infrastructure in Europe and many countries of the world is a potential avenue for technology licensing.
“Unlike with waste oil re-refining, Hydal’s flexible technology makes it unnecessary to
decontaminate and screen the waste cooking oils,” noted Tan. “Producing PHAs instead of
conventional biofuel also widens its range of usefulness because the PHAs can be used for a multitude of applications.”
Overall, due to its strong performance in the waste oil upcycling industry, Suzhou Hydal Biotech is truly deserving of the 2015 Frost & Sullivan Technology Innovation Award.
Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has demonstrated
uniqueness in developing and leveraging new technologies, which significantly impacts both the functionality and the customer value of the new products and applications. The award lauds the high R&D spent towards innovation, its relevance to the industry and the positive impact on brand perception.
Frost & Sullivan Best Practices awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis and extensive secondary research to identify best practices in the industry.