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January 31, 2024
3 Min Read
Customers will be able to develop and validate their ideas in protein processing at the Protein Application Center.Image courtesy of Bühler
Bühler recently opened its new Protein Application Center in partnership with endeco, as part of the company’s expanded food innovation capabilities in Uzwil, Switzerland.
The center completes the technology solutions necessary to go from pulses or grains to finished consumer products, such as dairy or meat replacements, or for intermediate ingredients like proteins, fibers, 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. Customers will be able to develop and validate their ideas in protein processing to produce plant-based foods, such as meat substitutes and beverages. A topic of growing importance is to maximize the value of the side streams generated in the food industry and the application center brings unique technology solutions to address this.
“Bühler has been striving to offer customers a complete range of solutions in the field of protein. With the new center, we have taken a major step and can increase impact in terms of efficiency, sustainability, and food safety,” said Andreas Risch, head of Special Grains & Pulses at Bühler. “Now we can confidently tell our prospective customers that they can bring their raw material like peas, or beans, and together, we will develop a juicier burger, tastier bar, better and authentic cheese or beverage.”
The Protein Application Center covers 300 square meters. The center offers customers testing facilities on a small and larger scale. Customers can test their ideas on a small but highly flexible processing line with capacity of 1 kilogram per hour (kg/h), can also validate their ideas on the industrial-size production line with an infeed capacity of 200 kg/h, optimizing 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 fiber.
Collaborations have made it possible to combine expertise and cutting-edge technology under one roof. Bühler and endeco have made rapid progress in their partnership since 2022. Endeco spent almost two decades building the perfect process for what used to be a niche, protein isolation. Now, the process is successfully integrated into Bühler's Application & Training Center landscape, enhancing the technology along the entire plant-based food value chain available to customers.
The Protein Application Center offers two different processes of protein isolation. The classical means of protein isolation and an alternative process of protein isolation, membrane fractionation.
Swiss company MMS, another technology partner at the Protein Application Center, brings a strong track record of solving complex separation and fractionation challenges in the food and bio pharma industries. Its expertise in membrane technology enables the production of components with superior functionality, sensory, and nutritional benefits.
Customers can also test processes and develop new products in dairy alternatives, such as vegan drinks, yogurts, and cheeses, in a dairy application line, part of the small testing facility. In addition, the valorization of the co-produced side streams of starch and fiber will be a major research topic in the new test center.
In the upstream stage, the Protein Application Center collaborates with Bühler’s Grain Innovation Center (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 Center and the Extrusion Application Center 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, with the development of delicious veggie burgers, vegetarian chicken chunks or nuggets, and more.
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