Plant-derived proteins have large potential to replace animal-derived proteins in foods as they are much more sustainable. For the production of one kg of animal protein, 5 to 6 kg of plant proteins are needed. Unfortunately, traditional wet fractionation processes to produce plant proteins go along with high water use and loss of (native) protein functionality.
The aim of this PhD project is to develop a dry fractionation process to obtain plant proteins with minimal water use and retention of (native) functionality. The research in this project focuses on 1) optimal breakage behaviour of plant cell tissue to facilitate dry fractionation and 2) development of dry fractionation procedures using milling and air classification that lead to functional protein fractions.
The milling and air classification processes are shown in the figure below. During milling, starch granules should be physically disentangled from the surrounding protein matrix, which breaks into very small particles. In the air classification step the starch granules are separated from the smaller protein particles. Finally, the enriched protein fraction is evaluated for its functionality, e.g. in the preparation of meat replacers.
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This research project is carried out within the framework of ISPT and is financially supported by the PEAS foundation.