Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


FUTURE-FOOD Report Summary

Project ID: 635759
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FUTURE-FOOD (Faster Upcoming Technology Uptake Relevant for the Environment in FOOds Drying)

Reporting period: 2015-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Future Food aims at demonstration and first market application of an eco-innovative solution for sustainable food drying. The process makes use of high pressure CO2 technology as drying medium which enables efficient drying at close-to-ambient temperatures in absence of oxygen. Research and development studies have shown it feasibility of being an ecological and economical alternative to freeze-drying, for products categories vegetables and fruits, specialty ingredients such as proteins and biopolymers. Besides good preservation of a food quality, microbial inactivation occurs in situ which attributes to ensuring food safety.

The main objectives are: (i) minimize risks that could prevent CO2 drying to enter the market and (ii) to demonstrate its market replication potential via a first application to the market.
The base of the project is to provide on the one hand prototyped products and on the other prototyped process extensions that will increase the market potential. Prototyping processing elements will demonstrate the energy reduction of the process and the full width of applications at a pilot scale. The aim is to demonstrate the full potential of this technology to the industry at a foodgrade level, resulting in validation of the process. On the basis of the prototype assessments, in close conjunction with industrial (SME) parties, the process will be certified, (economically) validated and demonstrated to the industry. The final step is demonstrating the process in a near-operational environment to identify all the benefits for consumer and the food chain.
By doing so, the drying process will evolve from a TRL 4-5 to a TRL 8. By intensive dissemination to increase visibility, the technology will disseminated to SME’s in Europe to maximize uptake of the technology in the market and realizating impact on sustainability, food safety and economy.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

First aspect to address (in Work package 1) is to optimize the energy reduction potential in the demonstration unit for drying vegetable and fruit parts. For this purpose, trials at pilot scale have been performed addressing drying and regeneration processing on the base of which modifications have been made to equipment, materials and operating procedures. Particular focus for CO2Dry was on long term processing stability. Trials will be followed by complete demonstrations and validations in a near-to operational environment.
In a second work package, the process and equipment was extended to drying solutions to powders at pilot scale. A prototype process was successfully developed at semi-continuous pilot scale and trials were performed for characterization of product and process stability. Demonstrations performed by FeyeCon to dry at 1-10 kg scale were successful and will be taken up in subsequent work packages.
A great potential benefit of the technology is the option to in-situ inactivate microbes. The inactivation of microbes is being investigated by University of Padova and University of Ghent which gives promising results.
The success of a new process is all dependent on the acceptance of its products. Evaluation of the consumer acceptance towards this novel technology first is being performed along a Pan-European questionnaire for potential consumers and by discussions with various stakeholders along the chains of the products. Product trials are being carried out to optimize the product characteristics to meet the consumer expectations, defined by key quality indicators and results from sensory evaluations.
Bringing a new technology to the market entails also validating operational limits, integration of unit operations in to complete processing lines as well assessment of compliance to European, national and local regulations. Above is ongoing, aiming at certification of this new process allowing commercialization of the technology. Market analysis illustrates that there is a great demand for the products of this technology, which combines convenience and health in food products.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The project Future Foods prepares for the first implementation of a CO2 drying process. The result anticipated at the end this project is that this novel drying technology with CO2 will evolve from a TRL level 4-5 to a TRL level 8. Current status is that the energy costs reduction potential calculations have been confirmed also in at pilot scale. Process optimizations have led to an increase of chances of a successful implementation upon commercialization. Such implementation will impact particularly the sustainability in the area of food preservation but since the energy costs often take up a large portion of the total costs in industrial scale drying process, also the economic impact can be considerable. The potential of healthy and safe dried foods allows for the availability of more healthy convenience food and can a such impact health.

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