The project, in partnership with Premier Foods, involves the development and application of continuous flow ohmic heater (CFOH) technology that will be tested on a range of the manufacturer’s sauces.
Dr Caroline Millman, senior lecturer and healthier lives research theme lead at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “This is an exciting project, bringing together industry and academic partners, combining our expertise to jointly develop a scalable and energy-efficient heating solution. It will build on existing technology developed by NCEFE and apply it in real-world processing conditions.
Continuous flow ohmic heater technology
Ohmic heating passes electrical current through food, heating it up evenly and requiring less energy than current processes.
Bridge between research and practical application
“This approach will bridge the gap between research and practical applications and has the potential to transform conventional heating and processing methods. This in turn could create new business opportunities, secure jobs, and contribute to the UK's food and energy security.”
Funding has been provided by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, as part of the Better Food for All Programme – an investment of up to £20m to support to development of ‘innovative solutions’ to address significant nutrition challenges.
Key areas being studied in this pilot-scale study include the challenges surrounding uneven heating, reduced food quality through over-processing, energy efficiencies and negative environmental impacts. The results could inform future spending on food processing technology.
Premier Foods head of creative solutions Chris Horton added: “As a leading manufacturer in the food industry, we can't wait to embark on this innovative project alongside our esteemed academic partners.
“By harnessing our collective expertise in this way, we stand the best chance of making a breakthrough on a more environmentally friendly heating approach which could revolutionise cooking and processing methods within our sector. I'm excited to see what we can achieve together."
In 2023, the global cooking sauces and condiments market was valued at $242.8bn (£199.3bn), with the UK market worth £3.9bn, according to Statistica. The Waste & Resources Action Programme pegged food systems – both in the UK and around the world – as the course of one third of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, a spinout from the University of Edinburgh, Exergy3, has been awarded £3.6mn in funding to trial its new decarbonisation technology at a Scottish whisky distillery.