The food engineering wet lab is comprised of an 81 sq. meter (875 sq. ft.) space (room 226) located in the 4,645 sq. m. (50,000 sq. ft.) 2nd-floor pilot plant of the Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center (FAPC). The lab is used for research, development and demonstration of food process engineering methods and equipment. Production is generally for research purposes, but food and agricultural materials may be processed in an inspected (FDA/USDA/AIB/State) environment.

Recent work in this lab includes dehydration of meat, vegetable, and fruit products, Clean In Place (CIP) procedure and equipment development, ventilation waste heat recovery, and spray drying of additives for natural gas wells. The food engineering lab contains packaging equipment, a steam injection cooker, cabinet dehydrator, spray dryer, tablet press, portable CIP system, and mixer. Utility services in the room include single and three-phase electrical hookups, compressed air, plant steam, sanitary steam, vacuum, hot water and tap water.

The photo of room 226 shows a 4-H group learning about jerky production. Neighboring labs in the FAPC with additional equipment (second picture), loading docks and refrigerated and ambient storage areas are available for use for food engineering projects.

Both bench and pilot scale bioprocessing equipment are available at FAPC. A pilot scale supercritical fluid fractionation column (shown at right), a 50 L jacketed glass reactor, a 250 lb./h capacity screw press for oilseed processing (shown below), a 2-70 L/h thin film evaporator are some of the large scale processing equipment available for research.

We also have several bench scale processing equipment; supercritical fluid extraction and particle formation systems (shown above at right), a spray drier, a short path distillation unit, several 250 mL to 5 L jacketed stirred reactors, two membrane systems, a Tangential Abrasive Dehulling Device for grain processing and a liquid-liquid separation system. Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC), Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA), Accelerated Solvent Extraction (ASE), Gas Chromatography (GC), High Pressure Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Mass Spectroscopy (MS) are being used for bioproduct, biofuel and biomass characterization studies.

Examples of the active research projects in Dr. Dunford’s group include development of high value health beneficial products from wheat germ and bran, evaluation of microalgae for animal waste water remediation and biomass production and recovery of surface active compounds from crude canola oil refining by-products.

In addition to the pilot processing labs, there are also analytical labs on the third floor of FAPC. These labs are used for product development, ethanol fermentation, and analysis of physical properties. Recent projects have included evaluation of sweet sorghum as a bioenergy feedstock and fermentation of waste food products such as soft drinks for production of biofuels.

 

For more information about FAPC and these researchers, please use the links below

Dani Bellmer
Tim Bowser
Nurhan Dunford