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Fireworks at Kansalaistori Square, Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Fireworks in Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Europe, Africa and Asia collaborate on sources for protein, skin care and biopesticide products

Food industry co-streams which could be upgraded to more valuable products than the original ones ending up as animal feed. Scientists developed feasible and gentle methods to make good use of fish filleting residues and rapeseed press cakes. With European Union (EU) finance, a project named APROPOS has created new technologies for SME’s for the production of items such as dietary supplements and skin care products.

Raija Lantto is Head of Research Area at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and was coordinator of the APROPOS project. He commented, “Superb final results can be achieved by applying fairly simple production methods. The idea of the project was to develop technologies based on which all parts of a raw material can be used, without leaving any waste. In this project, the aim was not to produce fractions of high purity, but to develop methods for achieving practical results beneficial to both the producer and the final product. Several technologies, product prototypes and ideas were developed for use by companies.”

From 2011 to 2014, APROPOS was involved the development of production processes, in order to provide business opportunities for businesses operating in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. APROPOS project partners included: VTT, SINTEF (Norway), UPC (Spain), IVG GmbH (Germany), Aleksandras Stulginskis University (Lithuania), Manitoba Agri-Health Research Network Inc (Canada), The Energy Research Institute (India) and University of Nairobi (Kenya). Raw material producers, working on the project, included: Kankaisten Öljykasvit (Finland), and Kroppenstedter Ölmühle Walter Döpelheuer GmbH (Saksa). Fisheries processes were handled by: Nutrimar (Norway), Sybimar (Finland), and Mecpro Heavy Engineering Ltd (India). The end users of extracts included: True Cosmetics and Textil Planas Oliveras (Spain), Lasting Solutions (Uganda). There was additional support from Ecofoster (Finland), a company specialised in technology transfer.


Protein supplement for East-African population from Nile perch

Valuable products from rapeseed press cakes

Press cakes based on rapeseed oil production are currently used as feed components for production animals. In the future, this side-stream, which contains protein and other valuable substances, could even become the primary product. It has been estimated that, when used as a food ingredient, the commercial value of rapeseed protein products made of press cakes could be as high as EUR 5,000 (US$5,700) per tonne. The market price of press cakes used as fodder is EUR 150-300/tonne and the price of rapeseed oil is EUR 400-800/tonne. Annually, 15 million tonnes of rapeseed press cakes are produced in Europe and 50,000 tonnes in Finland.

As part of the APROPOS project, gentle rapeseed processing methods were developed, enabling the recovery of one-half of the protein of the seeds. The project did not aim at achieving the highest possible protein content. Instead, it succeeded in generating a fraction rich in protein and fibre, with much higher stability in drinks, for example, than can be achieved using a very pure rapeseed protein product produced commercially in Canada.

The Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) was tasked with defining the bioactive characteristics of rapeseed press cake fractions. In peptide-phenol extracts made by VTT, for instance, the UPC discovered anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, bacteriostatic, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Peptide-phenol extract has been successfully tested by two Catalonian companies producing skin care creams and medicinal wound dressings. By using an ultrasound-based encapsulation method developed by UPC, the peptide-phenol extract could be modified to a form in which the brownish-yellow colour of the extract was avoided. The resulting white emulsion could be suitable for cold creams, medical nappies for chronic care patients, and compresses for enhancing the antimicrobial qualities of the product and skin condition..

VTT developed bio-mechanical methods to produce proteins and phenols from rapeseed press cakes for food and cosmetics industry applications. The enzymatic treatment helped to improve the extraction of proteins from rapeseed oil press cakes. The most cost-efficient production method is the water-saving enzyme-assisted process, which helps to avoid the expensive drying phase of the material.

Sinapine and sinapic acid are the key phenolic compounds found in the kernel of rapeseeds. VTT manipulated the extraction efficiency, solubility and antioxidativity of these compounds, and tested the characteristics of the products with Norwegian SINTEF. It is known that the liposoluble phenol extract processed from sinapine effectively prevents problems such as the oxidation of emulsions and oils.