A fundamental difficulty in whole waste exploitation concerns the complexity of the structures; for plants and meat this is the cell matrix and the multicomponent interactions therein. A hierarchical approach is needed to tailor manipulation of isolated polymers and residues, in conjunction with the extraction of cellular contents including phytochemicals and proteins.
It is desirable to integrate bioprocesses with advanced physical processes, thereby developing hybrid processing systems incorporating closed-loop water-recycling activities. The following technologies, which have already proven their technical applicability in fields such as food, chemical and pharmaceutical processing, are candidates for consideration in the development of novel hybrid processes:
• Extrusion-extraction: in combination with enzymatic treatment this will open up the structure of the material to be extracted, or convert the raw material into valuable components (e.g. peptides, oligosaccharides).
• Supercritical CO2 extraction: a proven technology for several industrial applications (e.g. decaffeination, drug extraction from plants), though not currently used for extraction of value-added components from food processing by-products. This safe and clean technology in conjunction with enzymic pre-treatments has potential for extraction of small molecules (e.g. secondary metabolites, phytochemicals). The combination with extrusion cooking is also a recent development, as is the possibility of using enzymes with supercritical fluids as the solvent medium. • Membrane filtration: this is widely used for water purification and also in the chemical, food processing and pharmaceutical industries. Membrane filtration can be applied in product pre-concentration, clarification, sterile filtration and fractionation. The nature of the products and their susceptibility to deterioration make preservation, such as drying at low temperatures, necessary. Freeze-drying and some forms of spray-drying are candidates but may be too costly.
Many technologies have proven practical and economic relevance for other applications, but they need to be developed for the upgrading of food processing co-products.
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