Project

Project title:

Combined strategies for the optimization of water use in the fresh-cut processing industry.

Acronym:

aqUAFRESH

Objective:

The main goal of aqUAFRESH project is to obtain a new sanitation strategy, technologically feasible and economically competitive for the fresh-cut F&V (fruits and vegetables) industry.

The aqUAFRESH project want to improve food safety, and optimize process costs and efficiency in the fresh-cut industry by developing a new combined system that integrates all important parameters of the washing process. This new strategy will optimize energy, water, surface and chemical use in the fresh-cut washing process, and will provide the fresh-cut industry of a reliable disinfection alternative to Chlorine, that will guarantee food safety to the consumer.

Brief description:

The fresh-cut industry needs to cope with increasing demands on food safety, competitiveness and environmental impact. These challenges include the need for novel strategies and processes to reduce the water and energy usage, minimization of waste and improvement of efficiency to promote sustainability, always ensuring food safety. The project aqUAFRESH focuses on the use of water, given its great impact on the production costs and environmental performance of the fresh-cut industry, as well as on the quality and safety of end products. Fresh cut industry is one of the major water-intensive food industries, since washing with fresh water is the main technological operation performed by this industry to remove dirt and to reduce the microbial load of the vegetables. Saving, re-use and recycling of water, results in an efficient use of most of the resources. Additionally, it reduces the emissions to surface water and groundwater, and reduces other environmental impacts of processing.

A holistic approach is proposed by aqUAFRESH, based on the development of different technologies and methods with the joint aim of optimize the use of water and improve the safety of the fresh-cut products:

  • Washing equipment with improved performance regarding cleaning efficiency and hygiene.
  • Water disinfection strategy based on novel disinfectants and alternative to chlorine-based processes.
  • Reuse of water based on the assessment of water quality requirements.

An integrate concept will be developed and implemented within the aqUAFRESH project on the bases of the three pillars mentioned above. The expected contribution of these interventions will be the maximization of the benefits, in terms of water saving and food safety.

Time to completion:

24 months starting on 1st of June 2017.

Financed by:

Eurostars Programme.

Importance of aqUAFRESH project:

Eurostars Programme has a quite challenging evaluation process in order to ensure only excellent projects are selected for funding. Within this evaluation process, aqUAFRESH project was ranked 72 out of 341 participants, which clearly demonstrate the relevance of the issue addressed in this project. In the opinion of the three independent experts that participated in Eurostars evaluation process:

 

  • aqUAFRESH project “represents a potential opportunity to improve food safety issues for the benefit of the consumers, thus of the society”.
  • “The partners (Kronen and Citrosol) may certainly run the development even if not supported (by Eurostars), and they do have the strength to do so. However, a support may certainly reduce the time to market introduction and bring Europe in a leading position within the area”.
  • “There is a clear need in water business of innovations like presented in aqUAFRESH proposal. The project is very challenging and will totally fulfill the needs of research project of SMEs. The project proposal is very actual, a project type of today”.