University of Zaragoza

ProfielfotoJeroen Knol July 22, 2015

Three universities, a research institute, a non-profit association and seven companies team up in this project. They are based in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands. The companies involved are a manufacturer of pulse power generators  and food companies which will be the end users of the developed technology and methods. The project started in May 2015, it lasts three years and thus three harvesting seasons. The results will be shared on this website and through our newsletter.

The group of Emerging Technologies for Food Processing at the University of Zaragoza (UNIZAR) concentrates its research activities in the area of food preservation and processing by thermal and non-thermal technologies.

Ultrasound, high hydrostatic pressure, pulsed electric fields, ultraviolet light and ionizing irradiation are the technologies that are investigated. Research interest is focused in (i) critical factors affecting efficacy of technologies, (ii) kinetics and mathematical modelling of processes and (iii) mechanisms of action to translate the basic knowledge in process innovation in order to improve food safety and quality. The group has strong links with food industry and different research groups over the world. The group has played a leading role in the development of non-thermal technologies especially ultrasound and pulsed electric fields with activities ranging from the development of equipment to the basic understanding of processing principles.

Research activities of the group on the non-thermal processing by PEF started 15 years ago being one of the pioneer laboratories investigating application of PEF for food processing. The area to which most efforts were initially dedicated was microbial inactivation as an alternative or supplement to conventional thermal processing for enhancing food safety and stability without affecting nutritional and sensorial characteristics of foods. However, in recent years an increasing number of research work has been focused on the application of PEF as a pre-treatment step for permeabilization of cells of vegetable and animal tissues to improve the efficiency of mass transfer of water or of valuable compounds from biological matrices in different processes of the food industry such as drying, diffusion and extraction process including valorisation of by-products. Improvement of the extraction of phenolic compounds during red wine-making process, oil from olives, colorants from red beet and purple potato and antioxidants from orange and lemon peels has been demonstrated at pilot plan scale or in the laboratory.

UNIZAR coordinates the FieldFOOD project. Furthermore, UNIZAR coordinates Workpackage 6 (Management). University of Zaragoza is in close contact with the industrial partners Bodegas Aragonesas and Agrinarsa to develop the applications related with wine and olive oil production.

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