Advanced microwave oven for controlled research experiments.
Advanced microwave oven for controlled research experiments. Photo: Dagbjørn Skipnes © Nofima

The project will increase consumers’ access to safe, healthy and convenient food through novel energy efficient processing techniques. It will also improve utilization of raw material, by-products and waste, for which valorisation strategies will be developed.

We aim at developing sustainable food production systems addressing novel, innovative technologies for processing of potatoes and vegetables (e.g. carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, black salsify, celeriac, pea and legumes). The novel processing technologies, including 3 types of Microwave Heating will be utilized to demonstrate the potential to combine savings in energy and water consumption and improvement of sensorial and nutritional quality. Pre-treatment using Pulsed Electric Field (PEF), and Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE) will add value to underutilized by-products and waste.

Mathematical modelling and innovative process design will be used to optimize the conditions for the innovative processing technologies, with the aim to improve energy and cost efficiency. Modelling will also be used to predict how process design influences the kinetics of nutrient retention, functional properties of treated foods, and how they contribute towards desired properties and quality. Additionally, innovative canning technology introducing modified can geometries will complement process design to further optimize energy efficiency.

The global volume of vegetable food waste, not including agricultural waste, is estimated to 400 million tons/year. Valorisation of unused biomass during processing thus enhances food production sustainability and contributes to a lower ecological impact. Waste will be reduced in the food supply chain by pre-treatment for stabilization and efficient extraction with minimal use of solvents, for recycling into the food chain. This will be investigated using the novel technologies PEF and SFE in combination with mild technologies like Low-oxygen milling and Dry-On-Water technology.