Two Days of Insights, Demonstrations, System Tours and Expert Sessions into How PEF Can Improve Your Product, Enhance Your Production Line and Reduce Costs

On October 11 and 12, Elea Technology will host the annual PEF Advantage Day at its headquarters in Quakenbrück, Germany.

In a wide-ranging supporting program full of technical presentations, machine demos and discussion panels, researchers and partners from Elea present the benefits of Pulsed Electric Field technology for industrial food processing.

PEF (Pulsed Electric Fields) technology is using high voltage pulses to open the structure of various agricultural products including vegetables. This changes the cell membrane and temporarily “opens” the pores.

There are various areas of application for PEF in the food sector. On the one hand, the opening of pores has the effect that the respective ingredients can be extracted more easily, for example when extracting juice, oil, colour or other valuable compounds. On the other hand, undesirable substances can also escape more easily. A potato, for example, loses excess water through cell disruption, which softens the potato structure and positively influences further processing in all subsequent production steps. The principle of PEF is based on a physical phenomenon called electroporation and does not involve any chemical or thermal treatment.

In recent years, the PEF process has proved particularly successful in the potato sector, i.e. in the processing of potato chips and fries. However, the novel technology is also becoming increasingly established in other application areas, such as fruit, vegetables, and biotechnology.

The PEF Advantage Day will focus on the application of Pulsed Electric Fields in industrial vegetable processing and in the field of biotechnology. The first event day will highlight the benefits of treating different kinds of vegetables with PEF. The fast and efficient cell disintegration allows an easier processing of the raw material. One of the first processing steps in vegetable processing is the blanching step to reduce enzyme activity and to manage product texture and reduce breakage. The PEF induced cell disintegration releases intracellular liquid. The loss of turgor pressure allows a controlled tissue softening. 

Along with improved mass transfer also heat transfer is accelerated, so any blanching needed for enzyme inactivation can be shortened by up to 50 %. Shorter blanching means less thermal damage of product structure and less product losses. Selecting a suitable temperature time profile, PEF use allows to control enzyme activity and a targeted management of product texture. Also, Elea PEF is positively impacting on cutting and causes less breakage and fines along with longer knife durability. All in all, the product quality is improved and the total yield of the processing line increased.

PEF impacts on several subsequent processing steps as well, such as drying, freezing or even frying. The mass transport, which is involved in each of those, is facilitated due to on open structure allowing an optimization of processing conditions in terms of temperature and time. This is not only beneficial looking and energy requirements and production costs but also for product quality. Less heating translates to retained fresh product character and structure. In case of frozen products, smaller ice crystals are formed after Elea PEF treatment which will better preserve the structure of the product. Reduced leakage after thawing or an improved shape retention during freeze drying are observed.

Another interesting application is the potential of PEF in the field of biotechnology. PEF a is a gentle and resource-saving technology for cell disruption and brings process optimization, as well as energy savings. Microbial cells can be affected in different ways to stimulate growth and facilitate the extraction of valuable compounds, such as lipids, proteins and other functional biomacromolecules. Fermentation processes are accelerated, yield and capacity increase, and quality improves. PEF also provides a low-temperature solution for inactivating harmful microorganisms and extending shelf life.

Different scales of PEF systems are available for solid and liquid processing via belt or pipe, with capacities ranging up to 100t/h for cell disruption, 40 t/h for extraction and 5.000 l/h for inactivation. Pilot scale systems are available for testing or smaller production purposes. As all systems are manufactured on highest global standards and enable monitoring of all important process parameters, the systems are easy to integrate in existing production lines.

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