How to feed the world within the bounderies of the ecosystem? In order to do so, we need to redesign our food industry in a sustainable way, with process technology that helps us maximize nutritional values, and minimize waste. A huge task that no sole company can easily undertake on its own. That is why the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) unites parties from both the food industry, as well as from universities and other industries, to tackle this task together.
The food industry applies process technology to meet the nutritional needs of the growing world population. But with food processing come sustainability issues, in particular in energy and water use.
Drying and dewatering is the most energy intensive process in the food industry, improving these technologies will have an enormous effect on sustainabilityPeter de Jong – expert on food and agriculture
In our program Drying & Dewatering we aim to develop new technologies that use less energy and result in a reduction of CO2 emissions.
Closing the nutrient cycle
Our program Mild Fractionation for Food (MFFF) works on closing the nutrient cycle. Together with our partners we aim for a reduction of both the carbon and water footprint of production processes by more than 30%. If we want to establish a circular economy, we need a new technology to reduce energy use, CO2 emissions and water usage.
Fascinating: the agricultural sector of the future
In Groningen ISPT is involved in the Fascinating project. Fascinating is working on our future agricultural system: a circular system that balances sustainability, nature, healthy food and economic impact.
The agriculture of the future rests on 4 pillars:
- Healthy and balanced nutrition: making the step from quantity to quality. How can we translate a healthy diet into our agricultural system? What does the consumer want?
- Sustainable production of nutritional crops: we express quality in terms of nutritional value and economic value. How do we balance food production with nature, without CO2 or nitrogen emissions and with enhancement of biodiversity?
- Energy-efficient and sustainable processing: with the current processing processes, we lose a lot of nutrients from the crops and we use a lot of energy. By making existing technologies energy efficient and developing new technologies, we can use all nutrients in an energy-efficient way.
- Non-food use of residual flow: after processing agricultural products, you still have a large residual flow that you cannot use for human or animal consumption, such as cellulose, soil and manure. We use these residual flows in a circular manner as raw materials for the chemical industry or as an energy source.
UN Sustainability Development Goals
To establish a sustainable society by 2030, the UN adopted 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDG’s). In 5 of them the food industry can play a crucial role, for instance Clean Energy.
- How can we reduce our energy use in the whole production process?
- Do we use fossil or renewable energy?
- Can we improve the design of the dryer?
- Can we use a different drying processes, like extracting water with a high capacity membrane system?
- How can we adjust packaging?
- How can we close the nutrient cycle?
- What about sustainability at the farm, like carbon footprint reduction, biodiversity, and landscape and nature preservation?