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Food waste is converted to ethanol

Published: 18 March 2015

Food waste from Swedish households are converted to ethanol by Professor Paul Christakopoulos and his research group at Luleå University of Technology. Making biofuel from food waste has many advantages for the environment.

-–  A Swedish city of Luleå size produces about 25  tonnes of food waste each day and 9 125 tons per year. From this we can produce 475 tonnes of ethanol, says Paul Christakopoulos. Sweden's well-developed systems for sorting waste is a prerequisite for us to have access to sufficient volumes of ethanol. With 60 liters of ethanol per tank and provided that a car drives two weeks on a tank, it means that we can fill the tank of 380 small and mid-sized cars every year.

By adding biocatalysts, enzymes, the food waste is converted to glucose (sugar). After fermentation  the sugar then is converted into ethanol. Producing ethanol from food waste reduces carbon emissions.Ethanol is often made of materials that are used as food. Critics argue that ethanol production is at the expense of food production. An advantage of the recycling of food wastes is that ethanol production is no longer competing with food production.

The research group at the Department of Chemical Engineering designs biotechnological processes for converting various raw materials such as biomass, into green products, such as biofuels, chemicals and polymers. In a partnership with the steel group SSAB biocatalysts are used to reduce emissions from steel production.

Spring 2015 will start the construction of the Northern Sweden's first biorefinery / research laboratory in Northern Sweden. The aim is to extract various kinds of green products from biomass. The laboratory is funded by the Kempe Foundation and Luleå University of Technology


Paul Christakopoulos

Paul Christakopoulos, Professor and Head of Subject, Chaired Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 492510
Organisation: Biochemical Process Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering