The production of microalgae and mushrooms from process water or food by-products is an alternative for the recovery of by-products obtained from the fermentation process, while allowing ingredients and compounds derived from these biomasses to be obtained with high added value applications in food (human and animal), cosmetics, pharmaceuticals or agriculture.

At AZTI, we work on the development of new processes for the growth of microalgae and filamentous fungi, which make it possible to obtain products rich in protein and other nutrients (fibre, fatty acids, organic acids), as well as hydrolysates from these biomasses, with higher yields and, therefore, in an efficient and economically viable manner.
From our research we know that:

  • The yields obtained from microalgae biomass are around 100%, compared to conventional processes with synthetic means
  • The increase of protein in the by-products fermented by fungi is between 20 and 50% with respect to the initial content, which allows to improve the value of the by-products as a source of protein in animal feed

Sectors of application

Food companies generating process water or by-products with high sugar content (juice companies, vegetable preserves, fruit and vegetable wholesalers, dairy industries, breweries)

Benefits for your company/product

This is a circular economy solution that allows:

  • Reduction of the pollutant load of its effluents, process water or by-products and, therefore, reduction of the treatment and management costs for the companies generating these by-products.
  • Obtaining new value-added ingredients that allow fermentation companies to diversify their market.
  • Reduction of process costs for obtaining these ingredients compared to conventional processes.
  • Improvement of the added value of by-products with low protein content (fruits and vegetables).


  • Preliminary technical feasibility study of the fermentation process with the selected by-product or process water (6 months)
  • Feasibility study for scaling at pilot level (10 months)
  • Implementation study at industrial level: approach to the scaling process, cost-benefit study, market plan (8 months).

We make a difference

The projects developed at AZTI in the line of obtaining ingredients by fermentation, are considered from the point of view not only of innovation or research of new growth processes, but also from the economic viability and real possibilities of scaling these processes.

With more than 15 years of experience in the valorisation of food sub-products, at AZTI:

  • We help companies to reduce economic, technical and legal uncertainty when setting up a business, advising them with the most appropriate technologies for each case and with the valorisation of the by-products generated.
  • We have laboratories specialized in the characterization of by-products as well as a pilot plant equipped with technologies (both traditional and innovative) to validate the production of valuable products.
  • We are experts in the development of new food products and in obtaining bioenergy.
  • We have alliances with engineering firms for large-scale assemblies, with managers and with potential recipients of these by-products.

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