Tailoring the interactions of oil bodies and co-extracted proteins for development of novel food systems

Background and goal of project
In food industry, highly refined ingredients are being used that are produced through harsh conditions. Next to this, the pure ingredients are mixed again to formulate the final product. Besides the inefficiency of these process steps, the harsh conditions are also detrimental for the quality of the side streams. For example, during the plant oil extraction, a protein rich fraction is highly damaged, due to organic solvents, high temperature and high pressure applied.

On the other hand, mild aqueous extractions are promising alternatives to fractionate biobased feedstock. Milder process conditions allow all fractions in the side-streams to keep their native quality. For example, after aqueous extraction of plant oils, in the form of oil bodies (spherical oil droplets surrounded by a phospholipid/protein layer), the remaining proteins and polysaccharides are more flexible, easy to separate and  highly techno-functional comparing to the cases where organic solvents are being used.

My aim in this project is to understand the way that oil bodies  interact with the other co-extracted components during aqueous  extraction, in order to:

1.       Optimize the extraction process: Use milder processing conditions, and decrease the water and energy usage during the extraction.

2.       Find novel applications of the natural oil-in-water emulsion: Use oil bodies in conventional products that required synthetic engineered emulsions and monitor their performance.  

Highlight of the past year

It was shown that when the aqueous oil body extraction is performed at neutral pH, the obtained oil bodies are highly stable, but the extraction yield was lower comparing to alkaline pH values. This discovery allows the use of milder processing conditions during the extraction, however the yield has still to be increased by applying a pre-extraction cell disruption technique.

Type of student projects envisioned

The next projects on oil body extraction will focus on investigating the molecular interactions and optimizing the extraction process at neutral pH. If you are interested in sustainable production of hydrocolloids and intermolecular interactions, please contact us.

02-03-2017 Juliana Romero Guzman plaatje.PNG