Mild fractionation of plant based materials for sustainable plant based protein foods

The World Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that in 2050, we will need to produce more foods, in order to feed the global population. Most of the extra food is needed as proteins. However, a major part of our crop production is in the form of grains to use as cattle feed, ultimately to produce meat based protein foods. In the conversion of plants to meat, we lose a 75 to 90% of the raw materials. This shows that we could easily solve the pending world food shortage, by at least partly replacing meat consumption by consumption of plant based protein foods. Nutritionally, proteins from plants as peas, lupine or soy are excellent sources of protein, but directly most consumers do not prefer a diet based on only these legumes, In addition, direct consumption of these legumes may well lead to the consumption of too many calories, leading to an aggravation of the overweight pandemic.

The standard way to extract proteins from their plant resources is using a traditional wet extraction process, which involves several steps, requiring the use of organic solvents and extensive washing steps. Even though the use of plant based proteins may be more sustainable than the use of meat proteins, the traditional separation procedure is so resource-intensive that this cancels a large part of the gain we made. So it is necessary to improve the sustainability of the process for better plant based protein foods.


The aim of this project is to optimize fractionation steps of soy for improving the sustainability of the protein extraction process. In addition, the various applications of soy fractions such as meat analogues, yogurt and cheese will be also considered. The ultimate aim is to produce more sustainable plant protein-based foods with excellent nutritional quality.


Soy flour will be fractionated in a milder manner. Firstly, the defatting step is either avoided or replaced by a more mild process. Secondly, the washing steps can be reduced and the extreme pH changes can be avoided. All this parameters influence the functional properties of the protein fractions recovered. For preparing meat analogues, the shear cell technology will be used. However, we will also investigate underlying properties such as gelling and water binding properties. Last but not least, an exergy analysis will be used for the sustainability assessment of the production process and the final product comparing it to pork meat and conventional dairy products.

BSc / MSc Thesis

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