Research Fields

 

Process Development for Plant Raw Materials

We develop mechanical and extraction processes for isolating plant raw materials efficiently and cost effectively. The resulting fractions, namely lipids, proteins, soluble dietary fiber, and secondary plant ingredients, are then modified enzymatically, chemically, and physically to customize their functionalities. We develop resource-efficient processes for the use of renewable raw materials and thus make an important contribution to solving bioeconomic challenges.

 

Food Process Development

Our research includes the whole production chain, from the development of formulations, to processes, and product properties and their interactions. A particularly important area of work is the development of methods for texturing plant-based foods via fermentation and extrusion. Another key area is the replacement of animal-based ingredients in food items and research and refinement in the processes of chocolate production.

 

Retention of Food Quality

We study chemically, physically, and microbiologically induced quality changes and identify the indicators of spoiling along the whole processing chain. In order to prolong the product shelf-life, we are developing new physical sterilization methods such as plasma sterilization and investigating the use of natural, antimicrobial substances both on the food and incorporated into active packaging.

 

Sensory Analytics

We study the various sensory perceptions that are experienced when consumers and products like (packaged) food, cosmetics and consumer goods interact. The scientific focus lies in the physiological and psychological processes that are triggered in humans by such sensations and by chemically and sensorically active substances.

 

Product Safety and Analytics

Our expertise lies in the documentation of interactions between polymers and contact media. We systematically study the transfer (migration/permeation) of chemical substances into contact media such as a packaged food or other packaged products. We also develop analytical methods for the determination of impurities and contaminants.

 

Materials Development

We specialize in the multilayer extrusion of flat and flexible polymer materials and in the wet chemical and vacuum coating of these materials on a small pilot plant scale. The objective is the manufacture of (ultra) barrier films for technical applications and for food packaging.  To optimize packaging we develop algorithms for precise shelf-life modeling as a function of the transport and storage conditions.

 

Machine and Process Design

We develop efficient processing and cleaning procedures for the food, pharmaceutical, packaging, biotechnology, electronics, and automotive industries. In these areas we use structured process analyses and simulations to develop adaptive mechatronic, thermotronic, and fluid mechanical systems for existing processes and Industry 4.0 concepts.

 

Process Development for Polymer Recycling

We recover high-purity materials from complex mixtures of waste materials. These are first of all analitically characterized, mechanically concentrated, selectively extracted and purified. We obtain high-quality polymers as well as valuable metals (Cu, Ni, rare earth metals) from post-consumer and post-industrial waste mixtures, e.g. packaging, building waste as well as end-of-life vehicles and waste electrical and electronic equipment.