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Together, VTT and Hosokawa-Alpine AG create more economic fractionation processes for cereals


Added fibre – Added value

For several years, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has actively developed fractionation processes for grains, berries and plants with the aim of producing various fibre fractions and fractions with high protein or high bioactive compound content. To be able to develop processes at industrial scale, VTT has signed a co-operation agreement with the German equipment manufacturer Hosokawa-Alpine AG. Together with the manufacturer, VTT can offer food companies a large-scale fractionation process and more detailed data to support their process cost calculations and investment plans.

Hosokawa-Alpine is among the world’s leading equipment and system manufacturers in the field of fractionation technology. The company’s comprehensive machines and systems make it possible to develop very diverse fractionation processes. Initially, VTT and Hosokawa-Alpine will focus on the further development of the fractionation process for oat. VTT has developed and patented a unique method for extracting beta-glucan and protein concentrates from oat grains. With the new process, both concentrates are of excellent quality and the manufacturing process is energy-efficient. The VTT process has been scaled up to industry-scale in the Hosokawa-Alpine's test centre in Germany.

VTT's new process can produce oat fraction which has very high beta-glucan content by using dry fractionation techniques, such as milling, air classification and sieving. The high fat content of oat is an important factor in fibre separation. VTT’s process overcomes this problem by removing fat by means of supercritical CO2 extraction before dry fractioning. VTT has developed the supercritical extraction phase together with MTT Agrifood Research Finland.

The oat fraction reaches a beta-glucan content of up to 35%. A fraction with a high beta-content yields many benefits in various food industry applications: 1) Addition of a relatively small amount of fraction is enough to reach the regulated beta-glucan content in the final product. The beta-glucan content is important due to its health benefit of lowering cholesterol. 2) The fraction introduces a lower level of quickly absorbable carbohydrates, such as starch, to the process. This makes the final product better suited for weight control, for example. 3) Lower level of starch prevents gelation in the final product, which improves the shell life of products such as drinks.

The fractionation process also produces oat protein concentrate, which reaches a protein content of over 70%. A very small amount of the concentrate is enough to improve the nutritional and sensory value of food products. Economically feasible production of plant-based protein products is currently possible from only a few plants. The most typical plant protein products on the market are soy-based.