FOOD & BEVERAGES

PROCESS SOLUTIONS FOR PLANT-BASED PROTEINS

There will be an estimated nine billions mouths to feed in 2030, which will drive up the demand for protein by more than 50%. It is time to tap into alternative sources of protein, whether plant-based (veg) protein or animal-based (non-veg) protein. However, plant-based proteins (also referred to as vegetable proteins) are often temperature-sensitive and challenging to process properly. Hosokawa Micron provides mixing and drying systems that can tackle these challenges with efficient and sustainable solutions.

Sources of plant-based proteins include brewers spent grain, okara (soy, oats, almonds, rice), cereals (fermented wheat, corn gluten, fibers & starches), seaweed (alginates), fruit & veg pulp. Plant-based or vegetable proteins offer a wide range of commercial opportunities for food producers. The challenge is not only to maximize the efficiency of protein production, but also to achieve the highest quality of protein meal since – due to a higher digestibility rate – this can play a key role in reducing the carbon footprint.

Beans – a source of plant-based proteins

Technological solutions for alternative protein sources

In recent decades, the food processing industry has been working hard to develop new methods for the efficient production of high-quality protein from alternative sources. At Hosokawa Micron, for example, we have developed effective drying systems to turn ‘new’ plant-based proteins into high-quality protein powders for the Food & Feed industry.

Selecting the right drying process

The drying phase is particularly vital when it comes to obtaining the maximum amount of high-quality protein powder from your processing line. Under-drying of the wet press cake can result in the growth of fungi or bacteria, but over-drying can cause scorching which will damage the delicate nutrients in the protein. The right drying process is therefore necessary to extend the shelf life and safeguard characteristics such as digestibility and mouthfeel as well as the nutritional value and quality of the protein powder.

Key considerations when drying plant-based proteins:

  • Drying is an energy-intensive process, which has environmental implications. It is therefore important to maximize the efficiency of the drying process.
  • The product temperature / heat impact on the material during the drying process has an impact on the protein quality. A very short residence time (‘flashing’) is therefore desirable during drying in order to optimize the quality of the protein powder.
  • The protein drying system should be based on hygienic design principles in order to prevent the undesirable growth of bacteria and ensure adequate and ergonomic cleanability of the powder processing equipment.

Drying, milling and classification in one machine

Thanks to its unique design, the DMR flash mill dryer enables the precise adjustment of a wide range of parameters – including the RPM of the mill disc and classifier wheel, the process airflow, the feed rate and the inlet and outlet temperature – to carefully manage exposure time inside the drying chamber, particle size distribution and product moisture. This maintains the optimal product temperature as the particles pass upwards from the mill disc at the bottom to the rotating classifying wheel at the top of the chamber.

The Hosokawa Micron R&D team will help you to identify the right parameters to achieve the highest possible quality of protein meal. Besides ensuring that the plant-based proteins retain their beneficial properties, this all-in-one process step can give you an important edge in terms of efficiency, return on investment (ROI) and sustainability.

Use case

Take the humble peas, for example. One of the oldest known vegetables offers plant-based protein levels of 20-25% and good processing attributes. Grown across the world, the peas is increasingly identified as a super plant in terms of its ability to help meet the escalating demand for protein to feed the world’s population.

In the processing of pea proteins, the raw material initially has an average moisture content of 90%. The process typically begins with mechanical de-watering using a decanter: a high-speed rotating device which removes some of the water. This improves the energy-efficiency of the subsequent process because less water has to be evaporated.

After decanting, the material still contains about 70% moisture. It is discharged into a Nauta® mixer to be agitated/homogenized. Via a special feeder unit the material is then continuously fed into a DMR flash mill dryer, which transforms the material into a fine powder with a moisture content of just 5% in a matter of seconds.

 

The DMR is capable of handling products with a moisture content ranging from a few percent to more than 80% in suspensions, slurries and pastes. The ability of the DMR to directly transform a slurry into a uniform dry powder in a single process step, not only quickly but also efficiently – using approximately 10-20% less energy per kilogram of evaporated water than conventional ring dryers – makes it an excellent choice in the drying of proteins from a wide variety of sources for human consumption.

Peas - source of plant-based protein

Plant-based proteins and sustainability

Our drying technologies are specially developed to maximize energy efficiency and throughput speeds while also minimizing downtime due to maintenance and cleaning. Moreover, our 'total solution' approach to the design of your complete production line, including the drying, milling and classification steps, optimizes your overall efficiency and reduces your footprint. As a result, Hosokawa Micron's DMR flash drying technology supports the shift to more sustainable production methods, in addition to helping companies tap into opportunities for producing high-quality plant-based proteins as part of their own contribution to feeding the world sustainably.

Read more about Hosokawa Micron's commitment to sustainability

Need help setting up your powder processing system?

Test Centre in Doetinchem, the Netherlands Test Centre in Doetinchem, the Netherlands

Hosokawa Micron's experts in powder processing, drying and milling technology can provide suggestions and advice to help you take full advantage of the rapid growth in the use of alternative sources of plant-based proteins in the Food & Feed industry.

Our development and engineering team is always on hand to help you explore new and innovative processes and applications. Testing is the foundation for a successful product or process. Our test facilities in the Netherlands offer outstanding opportunities to test ingredients, machinery, parameters and process flows, whether in the laboratory, as a pilot set-up or on an industrial scale, to ensure you achieve the necessary product quality and operating efficiency to generate the maximum return on investment for your business.

We also have rental equipment available for batch drying.

Common plant-based protein challenges

If you're interested in discussing the production challenges and opportunities related to processing plant-based proteins, please feel free to contact us at Hosokawa Micron. We can help you on a range of issues related to this fast-growing sector, including:

  • How to achieve the highest quality powders for better absorption and digestion
  • The best drying and milling techniques for plant-based proteins
  • The advantages of the unique DMR flash drying technology over traditional drying and milling methods
  • How to plan, design, test and improve your protein powder processing system

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU?

To learn more about our powder processing equipment and systems for plant-based proteins, contact us:

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