Food process intensification for much better sustainability

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademic

Abstract

Many if not most food processes require copious amounts of water. In many systems, the product first needs to be suspended or diluted, to be separated, purified or modified, after which the water needs to be removed, by filtration, centrifugation, and evaporation and drying. It will be shown in this contribution that by studying and understanding the interactions between components in the concentrated regime, new mechanisms for separation and modification can be identified, which can lead to fractionation and modification at up to 70 wt% solids, instead of a few per cent. One example is the fractionation of wheat flour into gluten and starch, and hydrolysis to starch into glucose syrup. A new mechanism was found that can effectively separate gluten and starch at 60 wt% solids by making use of non-Newtonian rheology. The gluten quality is superior to that of the conventional process. In addition, a process was developed for enzymatic hydrolysis of 70 wt% starch into glucose syrup, making evaporation of moisture redundant. Another example is, that through understanding multiparticle interactions in concentrated suspensions through ab initio computer modelling, a new microfiltration principle was identified that is able to fractionate suspensions, and that becomes effective above 20 vol% solids – and becomes more effective with higher concentrations. As a bonus, membrane fouling is intrinsically avoided and is not important anymore. While there are many other examples, the three cases serve to illustrate that much can be gained by a better insight in the intrinsic dynamics of concentrated systems, and using these dynamics as basis for new, intensified processes. This will lead to much less use of water and energy (required mostly for dehydration), and can lead to superior products at the same time. While this means a radical shift from our conventional way of thinking, it does open up many new possibilities, for combining better sustainability with better products.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event11th International Congress on Engineering and Food, 22-26 May 2011, Athens, Greece -
Duration: 22 May 201126 May 2011

Conference

Conference11th International Congress on Engineering and Food, 22-26 May 2011, Athens, Greece
Period22/05/1126/05/11

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