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Protein Mining of Cereal side-streams Exploring Novel Technological Concepts

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PROMINENT (Protein Mining of Cereal side-streams Exploring Novel Technological Concepts)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-12-31

CONTEXT: There is a global need to increase dietary intake of plant protein for, sustainability, food security and nutritional benefit. Efficient use of currently available raw materials has large potential for increasing the number and volume of plant protein food ingredients. The side-streams from cereal grain processing offer a large under-exploited raw material potential for new food ingredients. Better use of side streams for foods would improve process and raw material efficiency. Moreover, availability of new protein ingredients creates new business opportunities of new plant-based food and protein product concepts.

OBJECTIVES: The objective is to develop techno-economically feasible and sustainable technologies for concentration of proteins from solid and liquid cereal side streams and for improvement of protein ingredient functionality for new sustainable food concepts that meet consumer demands. The sub-objectives of PROMINENT are:
1. To develop techno-economically feasible and sustainable technologies to fractionate, concentrate and isolate protein from solid and liquid cereal side streams.
2. To tailor the techno-functional and sensory properties of protein rich fractions (e.g. solubility, emulsifying and foaming) by enzymatic technologies and to develop from lab to pilot scale new consumer food concepts where the new protein ingredients are utilized either as performance proteins or in protein rich/high protein product formulations.
3. To assess the process scenarios and protein ingredients developed to ensure that the protein recovery is sustainable and that the basic socio-economic performance of the product system will be advanced
4. Establish business cases for new value chains on resource efficient and sustainable plant based proteins obtained from cereal side streams for food ingredients and products.

Fulfilling the objectives necessitates collaboration throughout the value chain. Companies from both ingredient and food production clusters and research partners covering technology research and analytical platform will induce development of novel technological concepts enabling new business development. Only protein ingredients accepted and liked by consumers will be economically viable and able to enhance food security, hence, the project will pay attention to end-user perspective.
The PROMINENT work started by characterization and supply of protein-containing streams from wheat and rice processing. Chemical composition, protein characteristics, microstructure, and also safety aspects (microbiological quality, hazardous components) were analyzed, and data used as a basis for selecting appropriate processing concepts for protein separation. The characterized fractions were used as raw material for protein concentration. The needs and expectations with respect to use as food ingredient.

Several technological strategies were screened and developed to fractionate and concentrate proteins from the raw materials. The fractionation strategies for solid raw materials were divided into three subtasks: 1) dry fractionation of cereal samples, 2) wet/aqueous processing of cereal samples, and 3) deep eutectic solvent (DES) extraction (focus on denatured protein samples). For liquid streams, downstream technologies were investigated to perform the concentration and purification of proteins from the liquid raw materials. Requirements for pre-treatment steps as well as microbiological process control were investigated, and process performance was studied with regard to product yield and quality. For protein isolation from liquid matrices, chromatographic techniques were investigated by systematically studying adsorption and desorption behaviours to isolate and fractionate proteins. The most potential protein concentrates and/or isolates from solid and liquid streams were produced at a scale that they could be characterized in their techno-functionality (solubility, foaming, colloidal stability, water holding capacity, and gelling behaviour) and benchmarked to commercially available protein samples. Strategies to improve the functionality of the protein samples were evaluated based on the protein content and other components present in the samples and the enzymatic functionalization of the protein fractions was started.

Along with development of the fractionation technologies for the proteins, evaluation of the technical and economical feasibility of the developed process concepts was performed to support the selection of the most potential technologies for demonstration in larger scale in the project. Data for the light techno-economic assessment (TEA) was gathered by i) ranking the potential raw materials, ii) listing all relevant process concepts, iii) selecting concepts that were stated as “potential” in the laboratory trials and iv) collecting the experimental data from the laboratory trials. The mass and energy balances were calculated using the gathered data, and linked with a cost model (variable costs, revenues and fixed costs). The techno-economic prefeasibility was evaluated for the selected cases and sensitivity analysis conducted to account for uncertainties in processes and integration.

Activities related to environmental and social sustainability and safety issues were also initiated. Since the side-streams are currently not used for food purposes, special focus has been put on the safety aspects from the beginning. Relevant information on the quality of different side-streams has been produced and critical parameters and potential quality risks at an early stage were identified. Scoping and methodological discussion of environmental life cycle assessment of new potential protein ingredients was also started.
Dissemination of PROMINENT activities outside the project consortium has been actively performed. Besides the information delivered by webpage and press-release, PhD and MSc thesis works, conference presentations (oral and posters), trade-journal publications and interviews have been conducted.
The PROMINENT project has performed substantial investigation of technologies feasible for protein separation, concentration and isolation from cereal side stream matrixes. The studies and results (when complete) are expected to benefit both industry, stakeholders, policy makers and scientific communities to give insight how cereal side streams can be valorized for foods.

In line with the original plans, the expected results of PROMINENT include:
1) Delivery of new protein ingredients
2) Improvement of cereal raw material usage efficiency
3) Demonstration of new food prototypes using cereal proteins
4) Offering consumers new sustainable plant protein foods with high eating quality.

These results are expected to deliver impact at different important aspects: 1) impact on process and product economy, 2) impact on protein self-sufficiency and agronomic policies, 3) impact on consumer well-being and health.
PROMINENT work chart