Green routes for starch modification
The research in this project addresses current societal concerns regarding environment and future (healthy) food availability. The objective is to develop new technologies to modify starch and to develop new starch- based food ingredients. The utilization of reactive extrusion and enzymes to enable starch modifications are considered innovative within the agri-food sector. The proposed innovations therefore contribute to various missions of the Agri & Food sector being A. Circular agriculture and D. Appreciated, healthy and safe foods.
This project focuses on the well-established starch sector, as part of the potato processing industry. Extrusion and biocatalysis are benign methodologies in line with many of the green chemistry principles. As such, applying these methodologies for starch-based food ingredients aids to the sustainable growth of the starch sector and therefore contribute to securing its future profitability.
Thus in this project we will evaluate the potential of extrusion technology to produce new starch-derived products and explore new biocatalytic approaches for starch modification. The purpose is to create new starch structures with enhanced functional and/or health properties for food. With the latter we want to address health related topics such as functional dietary fiber, fat replacement and slow digestible carbohydrates. Furthermore, we would also involve industrial application studies to investigate potential functionality in areas beyond food.
The expected impact of the project is high, for the starch industry as cleaner technologies and new products are being developed. Moreover, given the replication potential of the technologies involved, impact can also be generated within other parts of the agri-food sector and beyond.
Partners in the project are Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, Avebe and Novozymes.
The project is part of MMIP A3 Hergebruik zij- en restromen. It deals with biorefinery and valorisation within the food chain. The project aim to have valorisation of starch for the total use of potato using cleaner technologies. The modified starch will find its application in mainly food applications as healthy food.
The growth of our world population requires natural resources, and as a result the natural environment is affected. More people will consume more food and as a result more waste is generated. To mitigate associated environmental issues there is a need to develop greener and cleaner processes, e.g. resulting into less waste, reduced water consumption, reduced CO2 emissions etc. As part of the potato processing industry, the well-established starch sector faces the need to develop and implement greener technologies, to reduce the environmental footprint of current processes, which contributes to the transition towards a new world energy and circular economy.
Simultaneously, there is also the increasing need for healthy food. Globalisation resulted in an increased availability of food ingredients sugar, salt, starch and fats. However, unilateral intake of these food ingredients can lead to non-communicable diseases such as obesities, diabetes type II and cardiovascular diseases. To prevent a future global health crisis there is a need to develop healthy food ingredients, products and environmentally friendly processing thereof. Non-digestible carbohydrates (dietary fibres) play an important role in gut health due to the stimulation of the bifidobacteria in the colon. With the growth of the world population, a lack of conventional dietary fibre (e.g. pectin or inulin) is foreseen in the near future. Starch is one of the most abundant natural carbohydrates and provides the human body of energy as it is highly digestible. Hence, starch becomes an interesting source to be converted into slow or non-digestible carbohydrates.
The main objective in this project is to develop novel starch structures that contribute to both functional as well as health properties which are produced without the usage of harsh chemistry but solely by use of (a) reactive extrusion and (b) mild enzymatic processes, thus minimizing the generation of waste.
Using reactive extrusion, grafting of starch will be explored in this part of the project, by covalently bonding starch to other hydrocolloids. Both starch and other hydrocolloids already have wide application ranges in food, feed and industrial applications. Their primary function is to give structure, texture and/or certain rheological properties. The general aim is to combine starch with one or more natural hydrocolloids, leading to new functional properties and application potentials. The focus will be on food applications, while also the options for feed and/or industrial applications will be identified.
Mild enzymatic processes using starch branching enzymes will be applied to obtain novel starch derivatives with enhanced functional properties. The proof-of-principle of the suggested biocatalytic approaches was established in a previous project (TKI A&F project AF17102b).
The next phase of the development trajectory is:
- explore the use of novel, alternative branching enzymes to obtain remodelled starches with novel branching patterns, more specifically we explore the potential for making highly branched and high molecular weight starch derivatives with both functional as well retarded/resistant digestibility.
- generate insight in structure-functional relationship of the emerging starch structures.