Towards understanding of structure formation in dense protein systems


Meat production is shown to be extremely inefficient with respect to use of land, water and raw materials. Besides, it is expected that the demand for meat will increase due to an increase in global population and an increase in affluence all over the world. Consumer research indicated that consumers are prepared to replace their meat by plant based products, when the products are equally attractive. Plant-derived products with pronounced fibrous structures might play an important role here. In this project we aim at the development of fibrous protein foods from plants for meat replacers.


Research on creation of fibrous structures has been under attention for several years now. A newly developed shearing device (shear cell) was used for this research. It was shown that both soy protein concentrate and the combination of gluten and soy protein isolate result in anisotropic structures with pronounced fibers. Pronounced fibre formation was not yet shown with other plant materials and the mechanism for structure formation is not yet fully understood. Therefore this project will focus on further understanding the structure formation process.


A prerequisite for further understanding of the structure formation process is ability to quantify the structure of the materials formed. Different types of methods will be used to analyse shear induced structure formation, such as MRI, NMR, rheology and several types of microscopy and scattering techniques. We will also explore the possibilities to do online measurements to be able to measure structure formation in the shear cell device over time. The analysis of the samples that show pronounced fibers might give insight in the dynamics of the structuring process. Formation of various anisotropic structures will be related to the properties of the starting materials and the processing conditions applied to come up with design rules for fibrous protein foods. These design rules will be validated by using different types of plant materials.

BSc / MSc Thesis

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