iBET

Food, Water and Energy Nexus

 

Food, water and energy - they may not seem like they are connected but the systems that help produce and bring fresh food and energy as well as clean, abundant water to you, are intertwined.

Our consumption of food, water and energy - directly or indirectly - impacts ecosystems and natural resources that society depends on for its survival. Recent events like droughts, oil spills and increasing food prices tell us that we can no longer view our food, water and energy systems in isolation. Instead, we all must understand how and where these three systems intersect — the nexus (1).

Consider:

  • Energy is required to treat wastewater and transport drinking water;
  • Water is required to make electricity and produce transportation fuels;
  • Energy and water are required to grow food;
  • An increasing portion of certain crops is being used for fuel instead of food; and
  • Water quality can be adversely impacted by food and energy production.

 

(1) in Food, Water and Energy: know the nexus, 2013 GRACE Communications Foundation.

 

Food and water quality, safety and security

Development of advanced processes for water treatment that allow freshwater resource availability through the use of sustainable processes such as membranes, advanced oxidation processes or bio-based treatments. These treatments have to be designed towards providing reliable and clean sources of water to different regions in the world with different socio-economic realities.

Chemical, microbial and parasitic contaminations can cause safety and quality problems in food and water. The drivers for food and water safety, quality and security are as diverse as fraud, introduction/development of new technologies (e.g. nanotechnologies), human demographics and eating behaviors, international travel and trade. The effects of these drivers are investigated and proposals for mitigation come out through new analytical methodologies ((bio)chemical, microbiological, molecular biology, new generation sequencing…) and new process developments for water treatment and reuse.

 

Food, water and energy sustainability

Evaluate the ways of processing efficiently agriculture resources to achieve a sustainable economic growth in the future. Conversion of agro food by-products, wastes/surplus and effluents, into marketable products such as materials (such as biopolymers), chemicals (such as pharmaceuticals, flavors, antioxidants and organic acids), energy (methane and biohydrogen) and water through tailored, advanced, (bio)technological processes.

 

Food traceability and authenticity

The ability to track any food, feed, food-producing animal or substance that will be used for consumption, through all stages of production, processing and distribution is addressed in this area. In sector-specific legislation that applies to certain categories of food products (fruit and vegetables, beef, fish, honey, olive oil) new methodologies, chemical and biological, for identification of their origin and authenticity are to be developed.

 

Sustainability of production

To evaluate the ways of processing efficiently agriculture resources to achieve a sustainable economic growth. Conversion of agro-food and forest by-products, wastes/surplus and effluents into marketable products such as biopolymers for packaging and/or chemicals (e.g. pharmaceuticals, flavors, antioxidants and organic acids).