Fortifying dehydrated fruits by scalable electrohydrodynamics
Type. SERI Postdoctoral scholarship
Funding. This project is funded by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) via the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students FCS.
Duration. 1 year (2019-2020)
Contact. Thijs Defraeye (supervisor).
Staff. Daniel Onwude (postdoctoral researcher, PI).
In this project, we aim to produce dried fruits of higher nutritional density, that at the same time are appealing and affordable to low-income consumers. As alternative healthy snacks, these dried fruits will help increase the quality of consumer diets, especially for children, leading to improved health. To achieve this goal, electrohydrodynamic (EHD) drying is applied, where ionic wind is used to accelerate the convective drying process. This technology typically induces a better retention of the initial content of micro-nutrients and bioactive compounds in the fruit. We aim to take a key step forward in making EHD drying of fruit faster and scalable for industrial systems, by developing a novel type of EHD collector with optimized airflow. This development will also nutritionally fortify the fruit even more, and will increase sensory appeal at a lower (energy) cost. We will evaluate this new flow-through mesh collector by a combined numerical-experimental analysis of the drying kinetics and scalability, and by quantifying the associated gains in nutritional and sensory quality, as well as energy use. Our target is that with this novel mesh collector, we achieve: (1) a doubling of the fruit drying rate; (2) equal fruit drying rates when scaling up for drying several hundreds of fruit; (3) a 30% higher retention of vitamins (A, E or C) and total phenolic content; (4) a 10% increase in rehydration capacity; (5) a distinguishably higher sensory appeal. This scalability enables application of EHD drying in both developing and industrialized countries.