Cluster Objective and Scope

The objective of this cluster is to explore new production concepts and technologies for the extraction
of complex molecules and proteins from various process flows. An enthusiastic group of industrial partners, universities and technology providers started activities regarding:

  • Tool development for evaluating new processing configurations for the agro feedstock focusing on product and process functionality, material efficiency and economics
  • Development and demonstration of mild fractionation technologies (e.g. high capacity membrane systems, industrial chromatography)
  • Case studies for the participating industries


It is has been estimated that implementation of the results will help companies to achieve their sustainability and business goals. Both carbon and water footprint of the production processes are
to be reduced by >30% in 2020!


Started activities

1. Conceptual process synthesis towards the agro chain

Methodology to systematically synthesize the optimal route for bio refining by conversions of raw food materials into the optimal product portfolio with (almost) no degradations and low-value side streams. Based on the composition and structure of the raw Agro-feedstock and a perceived product (portfolio), scenarios of possible separations, fractionations, transformations, stabilization and transformations will be analysed to arrive at an optimal product portfolio. This should combine the three criteria of (1) product (portfolio) quality, (2) cost-effectiveness and (3) eco-efficiency. This will be done by choosing a number of representative supply chains of interest to the participating partners, and evaluating the design strategies while working on these examples.


2. Evaluation emerging mild fractionation technologies

Benchmark of emerging mild fractionation technologies and process concepts of integrated technologies against robustness, up-scaling possibility, cost of ownership, environmental costs, material functionality changes. The result will give input for current and future cluster activities on which technologies should be developed further and industrially implemented.


3. High capacity chromatography

Development of new processes for continuous chromatography of agro-streams (plant or dairy based) with high volumes, targeting fractions with valuable compounds in a food grade environment. The challenge is to separate/fractionate relatively inhomogeneous and viscous bulk streams in a sustainable and economically feasible manner.


4. Bio-refinery of solid raw materials for food purposes

Development of mild bio-refinery processes that (a) are highly efficient from an eco-perspective (low energy and water use, high biomass valorisation efficiency, (b) maintain natural functionality of important components, and (c) generate non-pure but application-dedicated fractions. The functionality will be demonstrated with a number of model products, which will be defined in collaboration with the partners. It is envisaged that new mild fractionation techniques will have consequences for current production chains for food: the food formulation will be based on less refined fractions, whereas intensive drying stages will be avoided as much as possible. Redesign of process chains will be done in close collaboration with activity 1.


5. Membrane fractionation of agro materials at high concentrations

Understanding the physical properties of protein and carbohydrate (read fibres) in membrane systems and design strategies to overcome the physical trap and increase capacity.


Additional activities on specific technological developments are foreseen.

Cluster Director Peter de Jong
Cluster Director
Peter de Jong