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Bühler partners with endeco to launch new Protein Application Centre

Swiss technology group, Bühler along with German engineering company, endeco has recently launched its new Protein Application Centre, as part of the company’s expanded food innovation capabilities in Uzwil, Switzerland

The centre takes the process and product development of proteins to new heights by completing the technology solutions necessary to go from pulses or grains to finished consumer products such as dairy or meat replacements, or for intermediate ingredients, such as proteins, fibres or starches. 

With dry and wet processing options for plant proteins, Bühler now offers solutions to its customers covering the whole protein value chain – from field to consumer products, thus allowing customers to develop and validate their ideas in protein processing to produce plant-based foods, such as meat substitutes and beverages. The application centre also brings with it unique technology solutions to help maximise the value of side streams generated in the food industry.

Spanning an area of 300 sq m, the Protein Application Centre offers customers testing facilities on a small and larger scale, allowing them to test their ideas on a small but highly flexible processing line with capacity of 1 kg/h, while also being able to validate their ideas on the industrial-size production line with an infeed capacity of 200 kg/h, optimising the manufacturing process to scale production. In both processing lines, a wide variety of raw materials, such as pulses, grains, and other protein sources, can be split into their major components – protein, starch, and fibre. 

Two different processes of protein isolation are offered by the centre. The classical means is based on an isoelectric precipitation process and realised with the use of decanter centrifuges, while the alternative process is membrane fractionation. Bühler’s technology partner for the former process is Flottweg, a developer and producer of high-performance decanter centrifuges, separators and plants for solid-liquid separation. For the latter process, another of Bühler’s technology partners, Swiss company MMS brings its expertise in membrane technology, enabling the production of components with superior functionality, sensory, and nutritional benefits.  

“At every point in the process there is still a huge potential for optimisation, as sustainability is always an integral part of Bühler’s process development. This means we are searching for the most efficient processes with the lowest footprint," explained scientific lead of the Protein Application Centre, Katarina Slettengren. "Together with our sustainability team, we can offer quantification and reduction opportunities of our customer’s industrial footprint.”  

In the upstream stage, the Protein Application Centre collaborates with Bühler’s Grain Innovation Centre (GIC), where the customer can test and develop cleaning, sorting, grinding, sifting, and dry fractionation process technologies for multiple grains and seeds, such as wheat, durum, rye, corn, and pulses. At the GIC, dry processing technology to generate protein concentrates will be available to customers after the facility’s renovation is completed, by the end of 2024.  

The unique combination of the Protein Application Centre and the Extrusion Application Centre enables the direct connection from wet-separated proteins into an extrusion system. This helps to find novel and more sustainable processing solutions from the field to the fork. Bühler's CTO, Ian Roberts further mentioned that the Protein Application Centre also gave customers the unique opportunity to explore and create next-gen food ingredients for meat and dairy alternatives, while addressing the entire protein value chain in collaboration with all the other application and training centres in Uzwil.

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