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Steering protein functionality using smart dehydration

Arunitha Koodaliedathil Sreeprakash (PhD Candidate), Karin Schroën (promotor), Izabella Bouhid de Aguiar (supervisor), Henk Miedema (Wetsus supervisor)

Duration: 2022 – 2026

Funding: EMPOWER - European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 101034321

Introduction
The ‘Nutrition Targets’ set by the World Health Organisation, and the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ defined by the United Nations emphasize the urgency of healthy and sustainable food. As pointed out in the Green Deal of the EU, a more sustainable society requires the transition from animal-based to plant-based proteins1. This project targets protein-containing streams in the (potato) food industry that are currently considered waste. If these proteins could be separated or fractionated effectively they provide a alternative protein sources for animal-based proteins. Apart from sustainability issues, this strategy also adds to the product portfolio of food manufacturers2.

Key words
Microfluidics , Coalescence, Potato proteins, Emulsions

Technological challenges
In general, the protein concentration is low in the previously mentioned streams, thus effective separation and dehydration methods are needed. Because of this, extensive water removal is needed in order reach appropriate starting materials for the food industry. All this asks for effective separation and dehydration technologies. It is however essential that the methods employed preserveation protein functionality, are used to steer functionality toward different applications in food. The functionality studied in this project is the coalescence properties of oil droplets coated with these particular plant proteins. As for process conditions, special attention will be paid to the effect of temperature and the oxidation level on protein functionality.

Research goals
1)     Study the emulsifying abilities of potato proteins using a microfluidic device and determine the optimal concentration of protein required to stabilize the emulsion.
2)     Investigate the effect of protein oxidation on emulsification.
3)     Study the effect of operating temperature during protein separation on emulsification. 

Figure 1 Overview of the research project

References
[1] Cué Rio, M., Bovenkerk, B., Castella, J. C., Fischer, D., Fuchs, R., Kanerva, M.,& Röös, E. (2022). Sustainability Science, 1-19.
[2] Liu, Z., Wu, Z., Li, R., & Fan, X. (2013) Journal of food engineering, 114(2), 192-198.
[3] Hinderink, E. B., Kaade, W., Sagis, L., Schroën, K., & Berton-Carabin, C. C. (2020) Food Hydrocolloids, 102, 105610.