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"Development of a high power ultrasound system for the low-cost, fast, effective and quality drying of fruit and vegetables" (ULTRAVEG)
Start date: 01 Sep 2008, End date: 31 Aug 2010 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Dried food is a major element in modern food processing and a staple ingredient for an increasing variety of foodstuffs. Dried food offers many advantages for the mass production of commercially prepared goods, not least cheaper transportation costs, longer storage life and ease of use. However modern drying methods, such as Accelerated Freeze-Drying, prove costly, time consuming, labour and energy intensive, limitations which can prove more crippling for SMEs. There is a need to provide EU dried food SMEs with a technology which will help to remain competitive in the EU and global dried food sectors. Preliminary research conducted to date suggests that the application of high power ultrasound (HPU) for the dehydration of porous materials may be very effective in processes in which heat-sensitive materials such as foodstuff have to be treated. HPU is a powerful technology that is safe and environmentally friendly, efficient and economical. High-intensity ultrasonic vibrations are capable of affecting mass transfer processes with the result of increasing the drying rate of materials, thereby permitting the use of lower temperatures or shorter treatment times. This process thus shows promise for assisting the dehydration of fruits, vegetables and other foods, preserving the quality attributes of the food products and during this project a HPU based pre-treatment method will be developed. A prototype will be built and tested prior to conventional drying processes to improve the added value of the dried product and enable faster, more cost effective and energy efficient drying of food, which will empower and equip SMEs from the European dried food industry to compete against the growing threat of global competition and large multinationals. It will also result in increased sales of high powered ultrasound components and equipment. The project holds benefits for European competitiveness and innovation, employment, the environment and society at large."
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