In the EU-funded project Whey2Food the University of Hohenheim and the Fraunhofer IGB, together with partners from industry, are investigating how high-quality whey proteins can be obtained for food with the assistance of a new electromembrane process.
Whey, which occurs as a waste material from cheese production, contains valuable proteins. In the project Whey2Food these proteins are selectively enriched for use in food products.
© Universität Hohenheim
The production of cheese and casein results in large quantities of whey. 81 million tonnes of the watery waste material come together per year in the EU alone. Nowadays about 40 per cent of this is already processed by filtration to make whey concentrate and further processed to provide a wide range of whey products. However, most of the whey still remains unused.
In addition to lactose and minerals, whey contains above all valuable milk proteins. Dr. Ana Lucia Vásquez, who heads the project at the IGB, describes the economic potential and the objective of the new project: “The proteins could be used in the food industry as a natural binding agent and as emulsifiers.” She further explains: “They are equally well suited as a functional food supplement in baby formula or dietary foods or as a source of proteins in sports drinks for athletes.”
For these applications the proteins first of all have to be isolated from the whey. There are already basic methods of obtaining specific milk proteins, for example the antithrombogenic casein macropeptide, from whey. However, the chromatographic techniques used for this purpose are complex and are not suitable for a high throughput. Whey concentrate is obtained by means of ultrafiltration. In this process the little whey molecules – water, minerals and lactose – pass through the pores of a membrane while proteins are retained. But here the proteins are only concentrated as a whole, but not separated according to functional protein fractions. Additionally, residues are quickly deposited on the membranes. This fouling impairs the filtration capability so that the membranes frequently have to be cleaned.
To enrich proteins selectively and to add them to foods in accordance with their nutritional or technological-functional properties, the Whey2Food project intends to further develop an electromembrame process initially investigated at the University of Hohenheim. “The method combines pressure filtration through a porous membrane with an electric field. The proteins are not only separated according to their size, but at the same time according to their charge,” Vásquez explains. Compared with ultrafiltration this increases the yield and reduces the cleaning required. “In preliminary tests trials we were able to demonstrate that peptides or protein fragments such as casein macropeptide can be separated from two further typical whey proteins, alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin, with the help of the electromembrane process,” says Professor Dr.-Ing. Jörg Hinrichs from the Institute of Food Science and Biotechnology at the University of Hohenheim.
Now the researchers want to optimize the process for industrially relevant quantities and in conformity with the hygiene and cleaning standards required for food manufacturers. “We will then test the process under realistic conditions in continuous operation with an automated pilot plant on the premises of our project partners Rovita and Schwarzwaldmilch,” says Vásquez. A further advantage of the electromembrane process is a reduction of the fouling. This also lowers the operating costs and the energy consumption.
Since the 1st November 2013 the project “Whey2Food – Enhanced protein fractionation from protein sources for their use in special food applications” is being funded within the scope of the EU-funded 7th Framework Research Program (Grant Agreement No. 605807). The German research partners Fraunhofer IGB and the University of Hohenheim as well as the Belgian VITO institute are developing the process together with a European consortium of companies.
Dr. Claudia Vorbeck | Fraunhofer-Institut
Gluing with the Laser
30.06.2015 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
Innovative Modular Process Makes Plastic Film Coating Highly Efficient
09.06.2015 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.
What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water—the system has thermalized to a new thermal...
Physicists from Regensburg and Marburg, Germany have succeeded in taking a slow-motion movie of speeding electrons in a solid driven by a strong light wave. In the process, they have unraveled a novel quantum phenomenon, which will be reported in the forthcoming edition of Nature.
The advent of ever faster electronics featuring clock rates up to the multiple-gigahertz range has revolutionized our day-to-day life. Researchers and...
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
23.07.2015 | Event News
10.07.2015 | Event News
25.06.2015 | Event News
31.07.2015 | Trade Fair News
31.07.2015 | Transportation and Logistics
31.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy