Department of Processes (DPRC)

The Department of Processes (DPROC) is involved in the study of new processes of technological interest intended to improve the preparation, functionality, preservation, quality, safety and traceability of foods. Particularly, high pressure processing and supercritical fluids are used, as alternatives to the traditional thermoprocessing and other conventional procedures, with the aim of obtaining new foods and processes as well as to extract and separate chiral and achiral compounds of high added value.

Thermophysical properties of food under pressure are measured and mathematical modelling of processes is performed for their optimization.

Functional foods are obtained by adding carotenoids as a source of healthy compounds and the role of bioactive components of foods is studied by performing the stereodifferentiation of chiral markers.

Food classification and discrimination is studied based on origin, processing and storage, from the spectra fingerprint (m/z) of the compounds (volatile or derivatives). Prediction ability of unknowns is possible. Also, research on the elaboration of dry-cured Iberian hams is carried out.

Research in bacterial biotechnology is focussed on the generation of basic and useful knowledge for the development of bacteria, enzymes and metabolites which may be used for the improvement of food production and microbial activity in the gastrointestinal tract. To these goals new approaches including post-genomics and biotechnological processes are used.

In addition, studies are carried out about phase change materials for their use in the cold chain.

Departamento de Procesos

Research Group on Bioactivity, Chirality, and Supercritical Fluids (BIOQUIFLU)

  • Dra. Marta Herraiz Carasa

Research Group on Bacterial biotechnology (BIOBACT)

  • Dra. Rosario Muñoz Moreno 
  • Dr. Félix López de Felipe Toledano 
  • Dra. Blanca de las Rivas González del Rey

Research Group on Innovative Processes and Food Quality (INNOTECHFOOD)

  • Dra. Laura Otero García 
  • Dra. Miriam Pérez Mateos 
  • José Mª Barcenilla Moraleda 
  • Mª Victoria Santamaría Barceló
  • Ignacio Rodríguez Rodríguez 

The Department has laboratory and pilot plant equipment for high pressure processing and hyperbaric storage, at temperatures both above and below 0ºC. The effects of pressure on quality parameters are evaluated. Specific sensors for volume change, ultrasonic and thermal conductivity measurements under pressure are also available. Thermophysical properties of food under pressure are obtained and mathematical models of processes are performed.

There are available two plants for extraction with supercritical fluids and a plant of simulated moving bed chromatography.

Other techniques in use include gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to analyze volatile compounds and fatty acids; liquid chromatography to determine carotenoids and phenolic compounds; multidimensional gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and on-line coupled liquid chromatography-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify chiral and achiral compounds.

Pilot scale drying sheds and a MS-electronic nose (ChemSensor) using quadrupole mass-spectrometer technology coupled with chemometric analysis are available. It is an excellent tool to complement sensory analysis and has a wide range of applications in quality control, process optimization, traceability, and fraud detection.

Enzymes useful for the technological improvement of bacteria or for food technology are overproduced or inactivated by the use of biochemical and molecular techniques. Functional genomics based approaches are used for the analysis of specific stress responses in food bacteria in relation to environmental conditions associated to food elaboration processes or to their ingestion. These skills aim to explain the overall response and adaptation of microorganisms subjected to these types of stress.

Different methods for thermic field characterization in phase change-materials are also available.

Head of Departament

Blanca de las Rivas González del Rey