On Friday the 12th of May 2017, around 70 people attended the industrial workshop organized by the ALBA Synchrotron in collaboration with the EU project NFFA. Companies had the opportunity to discover how synchrotron techniques can enhance the agri-food and packaging sectors.

The agri-food industry plays a key societal and economical role that is constantly seeking to introduce new products to adapt to the public's changing consumption patterns while pursuing competitiveness and reducing production costs. The ALBA Synchrotron offers cutting-edge techniques for the structural characterization of food at the micron and nanoscale to understand food processing and improve food and packaging production.

The event started with the welcoming words from Caterina Biscari, director of the ALBA Synchrotron, encouraging the participants to use ALBA's unique techniques and to take advantage of such a big infrastructure to grow in competitiveness. During the event, the attendants were able to find out the main advantages of using synchrotron light for analysis food-related materials and food packaging: the lower detection levels and higher resolution, faster experiments, the higher flexibility in experimental conditions, among others (pointed out by Miguel Ángel García, scientific director of ALBA). The modes of access to the ALBA Synchrotron for the industry were illustrated using two European projects: NFFA (talk given by Luis Fonseca, coordinator of NFFA) and CALIPSOplus (talk given by Alejandro Sánchez, responsible of the ALBA Industrial Liaison Office) that offer funding to access large facilities to SMEs.

Improving food benefits

Some examples illustrating the ALBA Synchrotron capabilities were presented such as the study performed to understand and improve the formation of velvety textures in chocolate, the characterization of lipids on fats and oils, the characterization of the process of enrichment of wheat with selenium to produce healthy pizza and pasta and a study to understand the process of producing flexible packaging for food. These talks were given by three different users from the ALBA Synchrotron belonging to industry and academia: Laura Bayés-Garcia from the University of Barcelona, Manuel Valiente from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Kang Wei Chou from the company Henkel. This workshop also counted on the presence of Edward Mitchell, Head of Business Development at the European Synchrotron  Radiation Facility (ESRF), who gave a wide and comprehensive talk about synchrotron applications for food characterization: from seeds tomography to chemical speciation in roots or ice-cream structural studies and bubbles diameter in bread. The talks were industrial-oriented and the speakers shared their invaluable experiences with the audience. The event finished with a visit to the ALBA experimental hall, its beamlines and a networking lunch for the attendees, speakers and scientists.

This has been the 4th industrial workshop organized by the ALBA Industrial Liaison Office. Like previous editions, the event was met with great enthusiasm. So far, we already devoted events to cements, pigments, ceramics and glasses (2016), the pharmaceutical sector (2015) and the chemical industry (2014). Looking forward to welcoming you in our next industrial event.

IM-agrifood1  IM-agrifood2

On the left, Miguel Ángel García Aranda, Scientific Director of the ALBA Synchrotron. On the right, networking during lunch in the Experimental hall. ©ALBA Synchrotron

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