MSCA-Doctoral student in Food and Pharma on membrane concepts for food waste upcycling, Lund University, Sweden

MSCA-Doctoral student in Food and Pharma on membrane concepts for food waste upcycling, Lund University, Sweden

Description of the workplace

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top universities. The University has around 45 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

The Department of Process and Life Science Engineering (PLE) covers a wide range of industrially relevant research, including e.g. plant-based meat analogues, carbon capture and formulation and purification of biopharmaceuticals.  The position is a joint position between the Food Bioprocess group and the Membrane group in the Department of Process and Life Science Engineering. The Food Bioprocess group is one of the leading groups in Sweden and the valorisation of plant-based proteins is one of the group’s key research areas, while the Membrane Group is the most established membrane research group in Sweden and has with MemLab – the Industrial membrane process research and development centre – an excellent infrastructure to develop and optimize membrane processes from lab to pilot scale.

Subject description

The project will focus on the removal and recovery of phytic acid and proteins from oilseed press cake (rapeseed and hemp) and oat fibre residues by membrane processes. The oilseed press cakes are by-products from vegetable oil production and oat fibre residues result from oat beverage production. Currently, high phytic acid concentrations limit the use of the by-product streams, e.g., in the food industry, since phytic acid is an anti-nutrient chelating mineral, and thus high concentrations of it increase the risk of iron deficiency of consumers. The project will combine membrane processes with mild protein extraction methods to reduce the phytic acid content. Ultrafiltration with diafiltration will be used to concentrate and purify the protein, while reverse osmosis will be used to concentrate the phytic acid. Furthermore, forward osmosis and electrodialysis will be explored as concentration and purification alternatives. The protein-rich retentate will be tested for extrusion into meat analogues, while concentrated and purified phytic acid has great potential as raw material for the dental care and pharmaceutical industries.

The project is part of the Horizon Europe MSCA Doctoral Network Mem-Fast – Membranes as Enablers for Future Biorefineries: from Fabrication to Advanced Separation Technologies.

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