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Advanced Portable Processing Platform

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2018-33610-28509
Agency Tracking Number: 2018-00764
Amount: $97,917.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.5
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-08-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-07-31
Small Business Information
Raleigh, NC 27616-1905
United States
DUNS: 080448980
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Michael Druga
 (678) 373-6751
Business Contact
 Michael Druga
Title: President
Phone: (678) 373-6751
Research Institution

The food industry is changing as traditional business models increasingly shift toward socially good enterprises with a need for transparency, ingenuity, and agility. This shift demands innovative products that satisfy multi-faceted goals that employ improved nutritional content, sustainable agricultural practices, supply chain flexibility, and accountability for food waste. This demand creates an opportunity for novel processing systems. A portable, small-scale, advanced thermal food processing system is an ideal solution, providing a versatile technology that can address the changing market needs relating to scale, flexibility, yield, cost, and rate of innovation. Advanced thermal processing using an electrical heating source, such as microwave or induction, is a necessary component of small-scale systems because it can yield a high product quality when compared to traditional thermal processing and can make use of portable and/or renewable electric energy sources. In order to produce safe and shelf stable food products, a thermal treatment is used to kill pathogens and spoilage microorganisms, as defined by reaching a specific minimum temperature for a specific minimum time (hold time and temperature). Traditional thermal processing technologies require a prolonged come up time (i.e. to reach critical processing conditions), or the time to get to the hold temperature, resulting in degradation of nutrients, flavor, color, and texture. Alternatively, advanced thermal technologies have the ability to minimize the come up time and therefore retain product quality, while still achieving the hold times and temperatures as needed for food safety and stability. SinnovaTek has unparalleled access and experience with two advanced thermal processing technologies, namely, continuous flow microwave (through years of commercialization and development) and continuous flow induction (through its partnership with Induction Food Systems). Currently, data to demonstrate which processing technology is best suited for a small-scale portable processing system does not exist. SinnovaTek has a fully functional small-scale microwave thermal processing development platform and has completed a demonstration unit for an induction system. This project will include modification of the induction system to become interchangeable with the microwave system in the development platform for the purpose of gathering this data. Comparative studies will elucidate the differences in the modular technologies with the remainder of the development platform remaining identical. The thermal process systems will be tested and compared across four diverse foods (applesauce, blueberry puree, sweet potato puree, and milk), selected for their challenging viscosities and thermally sensitive nutrients or colors. Both heating systems will be tested with each food for stability, energy efficiency, thermally sensitive nutrient retention, color degradation, sensory degradation, yield loss, and pipe fouling. A small-scale development platform will go through an initial upfit to add a modular thermal process system, integrating both induction and microwave for the purpose of comparitive testing. The goal of the platform and of Phase I will be to conduct experiments and to collect data toward making an informed decision of which technology is a better fit for a portable small-scale processing system. The metrics used to make this comparison will include product quality, economic considerations, and system robustness according to the following attributes:The rapid come up time will result in a high product quality:High nutrient retentionLimited product fouling (short time at high temperatures results in less protein denaturation)Retention of natural color, flavor, and textureThe system uses electricity instead of boilers relying on natural gas, resulting in:Ability to use renewable energyResilience in isolated areas when powered with renewable energyThe system should be economicall

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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