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Professor Karin Schroën part-time chair holder of the new Membrane Processes for Food group

Prof. Karin Schroën is appointed as part-time professor Membrane Processes for Food within the Membrane Science and Technology (MST) cluster at the University of Twente. Besides, Karin Schroën is professor in Food Process Engineering at Wageningen University. She is specialized in food technology and holds MSc and PhD degrees from Wageningen University, the Netherlands.

She became a full professor in 2012, and currently she heads a research group of approximately 20 people that takes the micrometer scale as a starting point of investigation. Based on insights obtained at that scale, novel mild process technology is designed, typically for separation (with membranes) and structuring purposes (emulsification, encapsulation etc). She has 188 publications in scientific journals to her name, approximately 15 book chapters, and 7 patents. She is frequently asked as a (keynote) speaker at conferences, workshops etc.

The new chair Membrane Processes for Food will substantially strengthen the broad nature of the MST cluster. It brings in two very important aspects, a focus on more fundamental process technology and a focus on a strategically very important application field for membranes: Food. In order to feed a rapidly increasing world population with nutritious and tasty food, it is key to develop technology that can be used to efficiently separate or concentrate food ingredients. Membranes are expected to play a pivotal role in this, allowing mild treatment of enriched food raw materials that can be effectively used in the production of (novel) foods, or that can be applied to remove bacteria from foods (‘cold sterilization’); therewith adding to food safety.

What is good to note, is that bio-based materials as used in the production of foods have great variability. Furthermore, various sources can be used to obtain similar functionality in the food. This implies that for flexible food production leading to well-controlled properties in foods, general insights in the underlying separation / fractionation mechanisms are needed. The chair of membrane processes for food will investigate effects occurring at nano- and micrometer scale e.g. particle behavior in flow, clogging of individual pores etc, as a general starting point for the design of membrane processes.

For the MST cluster, the chair extends into an application area related to food processes. Where synergy can be clearly found related to the fundamentals of this research with other cluster PIs, the specifics of food processes widens the footprint of membrane applications.