The MFFF-cluster congratulates PhD’s


The Mild Fractionation of Food (MFFF) ISPT cluster is proud to announce the graduation of 5 of its PhD candidates. The objective of this cluster is to explore new production concepts and technologies for the extraction of complex molecules and proteins from various process flows.

Shima , investigated the use of adsorption as a technology for industrial scale tuning of the flavor profile of beer. Marlies explored the concept of minimal and mild fractionation of food products in her thesis and looked at the link between mild processing and resource efficiency. Anton showed how the economic footprint of separation plants can be reduced during his research on mass transfer in chromatography. Jochem found that focusing on process efficiency alone can lead to a lock-in in agro-food processing chains. Victor researched the differences in filtration of concentrated solutions and found that working at high concentrations is more efficient and more sustainable. All extremely relevant research for this cluster.

PhD - Notebook with glasses

Dr. Shima Saffarionpour

Last November, the Delft PhD candidate Shima Saffarionpour defended her PhD thesis on flavor tuning of beer successfully. Dr. Saffarionpour worked within the ISPT project “Mild separation of flavor active components” for the past 4 years at the Biotechnology Department. She investigated the use of adsorption as a technology for industrial scale tuning of the flavor profile of beer. This project was a collaboration between Heineken, ISPT, WUR and the TU Delft. Parallel to the adsorption, stripping was investigated at the WUR. A miniaturized high throughput screening technique was executed at the TU Delft with the aim of finding the optimal adsorbents (solid auxiliary phase) for the selective capture and fractionation of flavor active components, like for example esters. These components are responsible for the fruity flavor of beer. With this technology a better control on the taste of beer can be achieved in industrial practice. The work of Dr. Saffarionpour led to four scientific journal papers and one patent and shows the strength of industrial – academic collaborations to achieve innovation.

Dr. Marlies Geerts

Food products often contain highly refined ingredients, with the advantages of mostly constant quality, easy of handling and global sourcing. However, the production of these highly refined ingredients requires harsh processing conditions. In addition, consumers no longer appreciate products containing highly refined ingredients because they are perceived as “unnatural”. This explains why sustainable concepts aim to limit processing or to use mild conditions if processing is unavoidable. Mild fractionation not only gives a more natural impression of products based on these ingredients but also potentially adds to resource efficiency. In my thesis, I explore the concept of minimal and mild fractionation and the research questions that arise. Here, aqueous fractionation is used as a mild process for the fractionation of starch and protein from yellow pea (Pisum sativum) and protein from soy beans (Glycine max). The functional properties of the protein- and starch-enriched fractions are investigated and related to the applicability and the resource efficiency of those fractions.

Dr. Anton Schultze-Jena

I studied bioprocess engineering and biotechnology in Germany and Portugal. I do my PhD at WUR in the Food Process Engineering group. As an external AIO I worked at TNO and since the beginning of this year at WUR-FBR. Now I am in the last months of my PhD. I found it instructive to work with ISPT, especially because it gave my project industrial relevance and application. Participating in cluster meetings was very interesting for me. I investigate the mass transfer in preparative chromatography under high viscous conditions in addition to other important aspects of chromatography. For example, we have shown that economic footprints of separation plants can be reduced by working at the right concentration. Moreover, good predictions of molecular diffusion in pores can be obtained with chromatographic data. Furthermore, I have learned to design and execute experiments, trained students and wrote scientific articles. I think that working with the ISPT has prompted me to focus again and again on the applicability of my research. It also brought me into contact with many interesting people with diverse professional backgrounds.


Dr. Jochem Jonkman

My name is Jochem Jonkman and from April 2014 till October 2018 I worked on my PhD thesis supervised by the Operations Research and Logistics group and the Food Process Engineering group of Wageningen University and supported by the Mild Fractionations for Food cluster of ISPT. By taking a supply chain perspective while analysing agro-food processing, I found out that focusing on process efficiency alone could lead to a lock-in in agro-food processing chains. New alternatives for supply chain set-ups, for instance with decentralised processing or novel intermediate products, could lead to an increased economic margin, while also reducing the environmental footprint of the agro-food industry. In one of the case studies, I calculated that the carbon footprint could be reduced up to 30% without compromising the economic performance. During my research, the insightful and motivational collaboration with ISPT and the industrial project partners was vital for developing the case studies and maintaining the link between theory and practice. Thanks to everyone for the great time!

Dr. Victor Aguirre

My name is Victor Aguirre, on November 12th I satisfactorily defended in Wageningen University my PhD thesis, which was done within the ISPT/Mild fractionation cluster. My research focused on the filtration of concentrated solutions, like the ones that we find in the food and biotechnology industry. Somehow the behaviour of concentrated solutions during filtration had been overlooked by scientists, and just now we identify potential opportunities to improve this process. We found that the underlying phenomena during these separations can differ significantly from what occurs with diluted solutions, which have been vastly investigated over the last 4 decades. In summary, I can say that working at high concentrations can be more efficient and more sustainable, which aligns very well with the objectives of the cluster. I have to admit that the cluster meetings were very important to hear the opinion of the industrial partners, and according to that feedback steer the project to a more practical and applicable outcome.