Engineering of the next generation functional biomaterials

About this project

Project description

Pectin is a natural dietary fibre, mainly prepared commercially from citrus peel and is widely used in the food, pharmaceutical, or cosmetic industries. It is manufactured in India to meet its diverse industrial applications (e.g., Krishna Pectins, Cp Kelco, Yugen Chemicals) and is commercially the second most valuable food ingredient after starch, with a total value exceeding $1.2 billion globally. A key gap in India’s industrial sectors is that the commercial use of such ingredients is often hindered by a lack of proof-of-concept research that will allow rapid integration of pectin in high-value products. In India and Australia, food and pharmaceutical industries are increasingly focused on developing functional products to improve bio-performance, maintain good health and well-being, and inhibit the onset of chronic diseases, e.g., obesity or Type-2 diabetes. In particular, India’s agricultural policies aim at accelerating industrialisation through research and development into utilisation and value addition of under-utilised and perishable agro commodities to double the farmers income.
The industrial extraction of pectin is carried out with strong mineral acids (nitric acid or hydrochloric acid). However, current extraction processes have low efficiency and cause environmental pollution. Therefore, developing a novel and green extraction method with both efficient and environmentally friendly is crucial in pectin manufacturing.

In this project, we will be exploring a green and ecofriendly process employing subcritical water for extraction of pectin from perishable agro commodities in the contest of waste-to-wealth. The resulting biomass will be characterised (chemical and functional properties) and compared with those obtained using conventional extraction techniques. The project aims to develop next-generation biofunctional compounds to investigate new product development that cuts across food and pharmaceutical industries in both India and Australia.

Outcomes

Deliverables

  • New technology for pectin extraction.
  • New pectin with improved functional properties.

Outcomes

  • Reduction of the carbon footprint and environmental cost of pectin manufacturing.
  • Development of high-value food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products.
  • Reduction of the reliance of the relevant Indian industries on foreign imported high-value ingredients.
  • Improvement in post-harvest losses and value addition of agro produce.

Information for applicants

Essential capabilities

Food engineering and chemistry. A good understanding of food material properties.

Desireable capabilities

Experience in polysaccharide extraction, experience working with wet-chemistry techniques (e.g., preparing solutions, calibration curves etc.).

Expected qualifications (Course/Degrees etc.)

Honours or Master’s degree in Food Engineering/Food Science & Technology/Chemistry.

Candidate Discipline

Polysaccharides Novel biomaterials Food material science Chemical characterisation.

Project supervisors

Principal supervisors

UQ Supervisor

Dr Vassilis Kontogiorgos

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
IITD Supervisor

Associate professor Jatindra K Sahu

Centre for Rural Development and Technology