Research project Small-scale innovative food processing equipment

Complete INNOLAB

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Nathalie Bernaert

Nathalie Bernaert

Plant based products and residual flow expert


Framing introduction

Through the INNOLAB, we can fill a gap in equipment for technical food-related protein research. In terms of machinery, the Food Pilot at ILVO in Belgium is well equipped with very versatile equipment to simulate most food operations at pilot scale, including where extraction of (new) proteins is concerned. But those protein extractions in some cases do not yield such large amounts of protein. This makes subsequent pilot-scale processing experiments unfeasible. In other cases, new alternative protein sources in the exploratory phase of primary production are also only available in very small amounts for further testing and analysis. To meet the demands of SMEs to test innovative technologies even with their small amounts of protein-rich feedstocks, there is a clear need to invest in a separate space with innovative small-scale commercial equipment. These are in the range of 0.5 to 5 kg of product.

Research approach

This project enables the investment in small-scale equipment for washing, cutting, grinding, cell disintegration, separation, drying and shaping of protein-rich raw materials. The steps before protein extraction require equipment for the pre-treatment of the raw materials, while the steps after extraction lead to product developments. The project also includes the adaptation of a space housing these devices.


In combination with the other pilot devices in the Food Pilot, complete processing processes can be simulated from various protein-rich raw materials to new end products in the fruit and vegetables, meat, bakery, dairy, ready meals, and the like. This unique test environment serves Flanders as well as international companies. Up to 550 pilot tests are carried out annually in the Food Pilot, which our customers successfully transform into tangible realizations. This project is done in partnership between ILVO and Flanders'FOOD.