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CO2 is a natural alternative to produce food additives and refrigerate food

06 October 2022
INEGI is studying the use of CO2 as «driving force» for equipment to extract and refine food additives, and to preserve food at low temperatures. The prototypes of these equipment are already operational, in the validation phase, paving the way for future industrial production.

One of these equipment is the basis of a refrigeration alternative to traditional ice in the food industry, promoting carbon capture and positively impacting the environment. It is a laboratory system with innovative equipment for the production of CO2 hydrates and characterization of their refrigeration capacities. This solution promises to optimize the conservation of fresh products, while giving a new use to the carbohydrates of carbon dioxide.

"It is expected that this form of conservation will be advantageous compared to those currently used. CO2 has a low cost, is non-combustible and non-explosive. In terms of conservation efficiency and refrigeration capacity, we anticipate a superior result than the use of traditional ice, contributing to a positive impact on the environment", says Luís Esteves, responsible for the project at INEGI.

The institute's team is, therefore, responsible for the mechanical-structural and fluid-dynamic development project of the equipment, opening the way to alternatives to traditional methods, which are generally inefficient.

CO2-based system will also create natural food flavors

Alongside this, the team is also contributing to the development of two new equipment for the extraction and refining, respectively, of ingredients from natural raw materials.

An example of this is the bio residues of Agaricus bisporus L mushrooms, rich in ergosterol and ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), which can be incorporated into food flours, bakery, pastry and dairy products. Also natural aromas of oregano, thyme and rosemary will be more easily extracted through these technologies, and later incorporated into bakery or pastry products.

As Luís Esteves explains, "it will make it possible to obtain new value-added products, and natural flavors that will give rise to new flavors. In addition, the new way of refining will be more advantageous compared to those currently used, both in terms of extraction yield, as well as in terms of energy costs”.

These developments are part of the ValorNatural project - Valorisation of natural resources through the extraction of high value-added ingredients for applications in the food industry. The project brings together 14 partners to create natural ingredients with high added value for industrial applications, in the coloring, flavoring and bioactive class.

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