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Pulsemaster's Solidus PEF batch unit

Mark de Boevere

Pulsed Electric Field for French Fries and Chips – Introducing the Solidus PEF Batch Unit

Pulsemaster, an innovative Dutch company, introduces the Solidus, a highly effective Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) pilot-scale batch unit under its brand. This unit is designed to determine the effects of PEF on whole potato tubers for the production of French fries and crisps, uniquely avoiding tissue damage prior to the PEF treatment.

For the first time, the food and scientific sectors have an instrument to assess the impact of PEF on plant cell viability in intact plant tissues or whole solids, such as large whole potato tubers, before installing industrial-sized PEF systems.

This advancement enables the production of industrial-scale data on benefits throughout the entire production of French fries, crisps, and specialty potato products, as well as other raw materials like sweet potatoes, cassava, and carrots, which opens up new shapes and product opportunities.

Traditionally, solid plant materials mechanically fragmented prior to PEF treatment, such as plant tissue slices, cylinders, strips, cubes, or discs, have already experienced considerable tissue damage, likely impacting the nature of the PEF-induced changes. This issue is resolved by using the Solidus unit. Pulsemaster’s Solidus PEF pilot-scale batch unit enables the determination of the impact of PEF on plant cell viability in intact solid plant tissues or whole organs. With this batch system, trials with PEF can be conducted with whole solids, such as single potatoes, vegetables, or fruits, up to several kilograms or pounds per batch, to improve food processes, create new processes and products, and measure value.

Today, PEF technology is commercially used in the potato industry. It induces electroporation, leading to increased cell membrane permeability, which also affects tissue structure to soften potato tissues, resulting in better cutting quality and accuracy, smoother surfaces of French fries and crisps, less product breakage and feathering, improved diffusion processes, and lower oil uptake.

Additionally, electroporated potato cells are more prone to the release of intracellular compounds such as reducing sugars involved in the Maillard reaction, reducing the tendency of fried potatoes to brown during frying. With Pulsemaster’s Solidus, the full technological potential and benefits, process-product interactions, and savings during processing steps like peeling, cutting, blanching, drying, frying, and freezing can be fully explored.

This leads to improved output of French fries in tons per hour, reduced costs of ownership, and higher product quality, prior to installing Pulsemaster industrial-sized PEF systems up to 100kW per system to meet the growing demand for higher input capacities as high as 154,000-176,000 lbs of potatoes per hour (70-80 tons per hour).

Optimizing PEF treatment of potato tubers requires precise selection of optimal electric field strength, pulse duration, repetition time, and temperature of treatment. Using whole solids, such as intact potato tubers, for PEF product development yields more representative results than small, mechanically fragmented potato pieces.

Mark de Boevere, Managing Director of Pulsemaster, states, “A strong point of our approach is the use of a sufficiently large PEF chamber to fit large potato tubers, without restricting the range of electric field strengths. The PEF treatment chamber is fully encapsulated, and the electrode system is properly grounded, allowing safe operation. Off-the-shelf components and standardized parts are used in engineering the Solidus PEF pilot-scale batch unit, with the electric field strength adjusted by the output voltage and the specific energy calculated based on the number of pulses applied.”

Pulsemaster’s versatile Solidus PEF pilot-scale batch unit is available for sale or trial rental. It is a non-thermal cell membrane permeabilization treatment, effective in enhancing process optimization in the food industry.

PEF’s appeal lies in its gentle processing and preservation of food’s nutrients in solids and liquids. Commercial-scale development of pulsed electric field systems continues at Pulsemaster to increase yields and reduce the cost of processes like drying, osmotic treatment, freezing, extraction, and diffusion processes.

Mark de Boevere adds, “The potato industry and the scientific sector, in particular, can utilize Pulsemaster’s Solidus for PEF product development and research before using our industrial-sized PEF systems. The Solidus PEF batch unit allows evaluation of the PEF treatment’s impact during the manufacturing of your product.”