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
CeGlaFlex project: wafer-thin, unbreakable and flexible ceramic and glass
25.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT
Additive manufacturing, from macro to nano
11.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences