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Thermophilic break-down of keratin-laden biomass waste


  • University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway                                                                                                                         
  • University of Exeter, Exeter, UK                                                                                                                                         
  • CEA, Bagnols-sur-Cèze, France                                                                                                                                 
  • University of the Free State (UFS), Bloemfountain, South Africa                                                                                   
  • University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya                                                                                                                         
  • Norwegian Research Center, Stavanger, Norway

Funded by the ERA-Net Cofund program on Food Systems and Climate


The ThermoK project addresses the use of selected thermophilic anaerobic bacterial cultures and consortia which can be optimised for keratin-laden waste material degradation. To efficiently translate this process on an industrial scale the process of keratin waste break-down needs to be improved and its efficiency increased for different keratin based feedstocks. We will address this problem using several complementry approaches that will be brought together and demonstrated at industrial scale:

  1. Establishment of stable pure and mixed cultures of thermophilic keratinolytic fervidobacteria and assessment of their performance
  2. An extensive characterization of the degradative process using exoproteomics
  3. A deep multi-omics knowledge of the functioning of the break-down process
  4. A greater understanding of the key enzyme activities within the bacterial consortia components that are responsible for keratin degradation
  5. Upscaling of the keratinolytic cultures to pilot scale and assessment of biologically hydrolyzed feather material as fish feed and fertilizer.

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