22 06 2021

PROLIFIC: Mastering the up-scaling challenge

PROLIFIC extracts valuable compounds from agro-industrial side streams. Protein, polyphenols or fibres shall find future application in food, cosmetics, animal feed, or packaging. During the first two years of the project partners have developed and optimized different methods to extract compounds from peas, chickpeas, coffee green beans and various fungi feedstock.

Next to the protein extraction methods mentioned above, PROLIFIC partner Celabor has developed and optimized methods such as subcritical water extraction, supercritical CO2 extraction or ultrasound-ethanolic extraction to recover polyphenols, chitosan and other fibres (cellulose / hemicellulose).

But, transferring extraction protocols from lab to pilot – and beyond – can be very demanding. Our project partner Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP) supports us here.

We are now up-scaling various protocols to extract proteins, polyphenols or chitosan. Instead of a few 100 grams of feedstock we are now handling hundreds of kilos. We essentially process them as defined in the original protocol with adaptations of individual unit processes where needed.  The first learnings and results are very encouraging. The use of bigger equipment proved beneficial, leading to better mixing and mass transfer conditions, but also tricky in realizing e.g. heating regimes developed on small-scale.

Overall the exercise showed good scalability of the protocols and confirmed the mass yield and extract quality of lab-scale trials.