Dutch speciality oils company De Wit is developing a bio-based solvent for the global oilseeds sector as part of a consortium awarded a US$3.3M (€2.8M grant) European Union (EU) grant, the company announced on 9 June.

The EcoXtract solvent would provide a bio-based option for the processing of oil-rich seeds such as soyabean, rapeseed, sunflower, and minor crops such as borage, hemp and evening primrose, the company said.

The EU grant was awarded to De Wit along with a consortium of four partners by the European Commission’s European Innovation Council under the Horizon 2020 Fast Track to Innovation programme.

Alongside De Wit, the other partners are Pennakem Europe (France), Vivaorganic GmbH (Germany), New Holland Extraction Ltd (United Kingdom) and Donal Murphy-Bokern (Germany).

Pennakem and New Holland Extractions were focusing on the engineering side of upscaling the use of this new solvent while Vivaorganic and De Wit would develop value chains in soyabean processing and niche speciality oils, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Donal Murphy-Bokern would provide support in project management, communications, assessment of environmental and agricultural impacts and liaison with policy agencies.

“As the oil industry is an important player of the food industry, it is essential to us to be part of this project to deliver a safer and healthier solution to the consumer,” De Wit Speciality Oils director Gertjan De Wit said.

Family-owned De Wit produces and markets a range of speciality plant oils for the food, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical and animal feed industries.

Its products are sourced from organic seed growers that are selected from all over the world, which are then processed at its New Holland Extraction production facility in the UK.

Founded in 2018, Vivaorganic specialises in the processing of protein-rich oilseeds, particularly soyabeans, for the organic food and feed sector.

Pennakem, an affiliate of the Minafin Group, provides full service-manufacturing, pilot facilities, R&D, and worldwide sales and marketing focusing on renewable chemistry while developing new products and processes. EcoXtract is a brand of Pennakem.