In the present paper, 26 food waste streams were selected according to their exploitation potential and investigated in terms of pectin content. The isolated pectin, subdivided into calcium bound and alkaline extractable pectin, was fully characterized in terms of uronic acid and other sugar composition, methylation and acetylation degree. It was shown that many waste streams can be a valuable source of pectin, but also that pectin structures present a huge structural diversity, resulting in a broad range of pectin structures. These can have different physicochemical and biological properties, which are useful in a wide range of applications. Even if the data could not cover all the possible batch by batch and country variabilities, to date this represents the most complete pectin characterization from food waste streams ever reported in the literature with a homogeneous methodology.
In June 2007, a project started in Flanders (Belgium) in which we will apply phytoremediation to clean soils that are diffusely polluted with heavy metals. Uptake ranges of heavy metals by rape seed, maize and wheat will be enhanced by increasing the bioavailability of these heavy metals by the addition of biodegradable physico‐chemical agents and by stimulating the heavy‐metal uptake capacity of the microbial community in and around the plant. In addition, the harvested biomass crops will be converted into bioenergy by using different energy‐recovery‐techniques. The energy and heavy metal mass balances will be compared for four different energy‐recovery techniques (anaerobic digestion, incineration, gasification and production of biodiesel). The overall information obtained will result in an economic evaluation of the use of phytoremediation combined with bioenergy production for the remediation of sites which are diffusely polluted with heavy metals. In the present review we will first explain the most important research steps investigated in our phytoremediation project. Secondly, an overview of literature discussing the phytoremediation capacity of rape seed to clean soils that are contaminated with heavy metals and the possibilities to produce biodiesel from this (heavy metal polluted) rape seed will be discussed in more detail.
Pectin containing agricultural by-products are potential sources of a new class of prebiotics known as pectic oligosaccharides (POS). In general, pectin is made up of homogalacturonan (HG, α-1,4-linked galacturonic acid monomers) and rhamnogalacturonan (RG, alternate galacturonic acid and rhamnose backbone with neutral side chains). Controlled hydrolysis of pectin containing agricultural by-products like sugar beet, apple, olive and citrus by chemical, enzymatic and hydrothermal can be used to produce oligo-galacturonides (GalpOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GalOS), rhamnogalacturonan-oligosaccharides (RGOS), etc. However, extensive research is needed to establish the role of POS, both as a prebiotic as well as therapeutic agent. This review comprehensively covers different facets of POS, including the nature and chemistry of pectin and POS, potential agricultural residual sources of pectin, pre-treatment methods for facilitating selective extraction of pectin, identification and characterization of POS, health benefits and important applications of POS in food and feed. This review has been compiled to establish a platform for future research in the purification and characterization of POS and for in vivo and in vitro studies of important POS, so that they could be commercially exploited.
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