The recently conducted Novel Process Routes project has culminated in a significant stride toward sustainable food processing. By focusing on novel processing routes and improved separation technologies for mildly processed fractions from crop and dairy materials, the project achieved a notable 50% reduction in energy consumption and carbon footprint.
Industrial partners within the ISPT Mild Fractionation Program joined forces in the Novel Process Routes project, each contributing from various points across the supply chain. Industry leaders including Cosun, FrieslandCampina, dsm-firmenich and Pentair united with a shared commitment to sustainability, aiming to reduce energy consumption per kilogram of food product while optimizing the utilization of raw materials.
New Process Routes
The project partners including the University of Wageningen, University of Delft, NIZO and with support from Royal HaskoningDHV explored enriched fractions derived from dairy and crops, designing processing routes that minimized energy consumption while maximizing the valorisation of total crops/raw materials. Furthermore, separation technologies were developed for the novel sustainable processing routes. Pilot-scale demonstrations effectively showcased the functionality of enriched fractions obtained through these innovative processes.
Transforming energy dynamics in food processing
The Novel Process Routes project demonstrated with a revolutionary new approach that lowering energy consumption for processing of food ingredients by 50% is possible. By replacing conventional ingredients with functional fractions generated through new and improved technologies and processing routes, a drastic reduction in carbon footprint is achieved.
Reducing environmental impact using Machine Learning
The project harnessed Machine Learning models to quantify the techno-functional properties – such as gelation, viscosity, emulsion stability, foaming capacity. This approach dramatically expanded the formulation space for all products. As a result, the overall impact of the product portfolio could be reduced by over 70%, compared to scenarios utilizing only isolates.
Water-only processing for fractionation
The project also highlighted the importance of targeted fractionation for plant-based proteins, exemplified by the exploration of opportunities in yellow pea-based ingredients. Water-only processing emerged as a sustainable solution for fractionating pea flour. Side streams and other raw ingredients that were developed and identified within this project found successful application in diverse food product categories. These applications ranged from healthy snacks to plant-based dairy alternatives.
Optimal use of functional properties
Tangible results from this project are new Process Routes from crops and dairy materials, Ingredient replacement by enriched fractions, Matching functional properties instead of compositions for a large Global Warming Potential drop, Water-only Fractionation processes without chemicals and with a higher yield, Membranes and models for plant-protein fractionation, and Side streams into healthy snacks and plant-based dairy replacements.
Follow-up project EProTrans
These revolutionary findings gave rise for further research. Hence, the new project EPRoTrans – Energy reduction technologies enabling PRotein Transition has been drawn up. This new project aims to use these results as a stepping stone. Its goal is to achieve promising energy savings and optimize the use of functional ingredients and side streams.