TNO is working on efficient food-production processes to cut the use of scarce resources like fossil fuels and water. And reduce emissions. We are doing this by improving process designs, implementing new technologies and experimenting with pilot processes. As well as developing our own solutions, we build upon our partners’ innovations. Thanks to computer modelling, we are able to optimise entire processes from beginning to end. That is one of our great plus points. “With the appropriate technology,” Burgering explains, “we can help companies in the food industry to grow in a sustainable manner.”
As well as familiar primary products like milk, potatoes and sugar beet, the food industry also generates numerous by-products. TNO is developing ways to turn these into valuable resources. One example is the valorisation of new proteins from food residues.
Processes in which TNO excels include recovery, separation and drying. By recovery we mean treating residues to extract useable components. Here we use “gentle” technologies in order to retain the intrinsic value of the biomolecules concerned. Further processing then separates the individual components recovered. In the case of drying, another core process in food production, we have developed an energy-saving method.
The use of electrochemistry is new for the food industry. Sustainable sources of energy like wind farms and solar cells sometimes generate surplus electricity. We are now using this to power electrochemical processes. Although still a relatively novel phenomenon, this approach looks set to open up many interesting opportunities. For example, it can be used in processes to create new or wider applications for proteins and carbohydrates. Or to disinfect process water in situ, this reducing the consumption of cleaning chemicals.
TNO puts science into practice. Our strength is that we look well beyond the technology. For example, we have a thorough understanding of the relevant legislation and regulations, and we know the true value of production residues. We are able to make the transition from the laboratory to the factory floor. That makes us an inspiring partner for the international food industry, its suppliers, multinationals and technology providers.