Technology protein biorefinery
Companies in the agro-food sector develop biorefinery processes for the proteins production from agriculture. Better understanding of component interactions, and tracing of positive and negative components will not only enable improvement of processes, but also quicker development of new biorefinery processes for increased healthy and safe food.
Within the WFBR topics, proteins are a clear common denominator. Animal proteins are increasingly being replaced by plant proteins. However, it remains uncertain what the health effects of this transition are.
Companies in the agro-food sector are developing biorefinery processes for the production of alternative proteins from agriculture (e.g. from high protein crops like pulses) or food side-streams and waste. The quality safety and corresponding functionality of the protein is expected to largely depend on the applied process. Additionally, positive and negative (by)products can be formed and/or end up in the final product as a result of that same biorefinery process. Better understanding of component interactions, and tracing of positive and negative components will not only enable improvement of existing processes, but also quicker development of new biorefinery processes and technologies for increased healthy and safe food.
Novel protein sources like concentrates and isolates from e.g. pulses and leaves are new products that enable the transition from animal- to plant-based feed and food. These fractions have specific compositions and characteristics that do not always match the intended applications. Further refinement of existing protein concentrates and isolates from novel protein sources, and/or adaptations in current processing conditions will diversify existing concentrates and isolates from novel protein sources towards tailor-made and more-specific sub-fractions that can be used 1) to overcome specific deficiencies based on a broader synergy and complementary potential and 2) to develop new high-value applications, for example by using more subtle blending possibilities.
By further/better refinement we envisage protein sub-fractions that have:
- Improved nutritional value; (essential) amino acid composition, digestibility
- Better bioactive functionality; anti-oxidant activity, glucose metabolism
- Reduced ANF content
Additional or different processing methods will also influence technical functionality, like solubility and gelling. This is however not the focus point of the current project, as it is already covered in many other projects. It may be a worthwhile addition when fractions with improved nutritional characteristics are developed.