Research Group Cereal Technology and Process Engineering

Group leader: Dr.-Ing. Mario Jekle

The activities of the Reserach Group Cereal Technology and Process Engineering are divided into the research fields structure-function relationships of biopolymers and process engineering including the development of methods in the baking industry. These fields of research find their application in various core themes, such as microstructures of cereal-based foods, gluten-free baked goods and pseudo cereals, the kneading process - structural kinetics of wheat-based dough, the baking process as well as the final baked goods. You can find our comprehensive facilities with regard to the preparation and evaluation of raw materials, dough and baked goods under biophysic laboratory, milling pilot plant and baking pilot plant.

Research Fields

Structure-function relationships of biopolymers

While in materials science, the relationship between structure and function has been widely identified as a key part, this is much more difficult in biological systems. Therefore the Cereal Reserach Group is intensively investigating structure-function relationships of biopolymers of cereal products. Microscopy and image analysis methods are of an intensive use to infer the microstructure or the physically detectable macrostructure on the effect in dough or crumb matrix. This method is used in the elucidation of structure-imparting ingredients in gluten-free baked goods, which in turn can lead to the improvement of product quality and thus to an improved nutritive supply of the consumers. Furthermore, this knowledge about the relationships of biopolymers can lead to an optimized use of alternative raw materials such as distiller’s grain or waxy barley in food. In addition, structure modifying operations during established processes such as “the influence of yeast metabolism on the development of dough (structure) and its influence on the final product (function) as a function of dough carrying methods” can be elucidated. Thus baking technological and sensory quality characteristics of bread can be specifically modified.

Process technology and methods development

Innovative control systems are established based on image analysis to enable an automated production of baked goods and a consistently high quality. Therefore in various research projects there is a digitally recording of dough during the entire process chain, starting from dough preparation over the fermentation up to the baking process. With help of the obtained quality measures the process can be controlled (situational by the respective facility) and optimized. Furthermore, ultrasonic sensors are used for in-line detection of density and porosity. A multi-year major project deals with new analytical systems and evaluation methods for effective assessment of baking qualities of modern wheat varieties. In addition, established process steps for alternative raw materials (including gluten free) are optimized or redefined. A fundamental reassessment of surface materials in the baking industry will permit a targeted use in terms of adhesion properties and improved hygiene.

Research projects

Development of an extraction process for the concentration of functional ingredients from amaranth milling fractions

The fractionation of amaranth into flour and bran through passage grinding results in a preliminary concentration of functional ingredients according to their appearance in the respective grain components. In order to further accumulate bioactive substances, this projects aims at the development of a extraction process including a subsequent drying method. Contact

Control of technological functionality of mechanically modified flours

Milling of grains leads to structural changes of starch granules and has an effect on the technological functionality of the flour. The aim of this study is to examine the influence of different mills and milling parameters on protein and starch modification. Thereby, the different stresses and strains on the protein fractions and starch structures need to be investigated. Furthermore the effect of those induced, structural changes of the starch and protein on the dough processing, baking properties and the sensory of the end product needs to be analyzed. Contact

Intelligent fermentation control - Automatic optimization of fermentation to the actual state of dough pieces using digital image analysis and experience-based fuzzy control

An essential requirement for high-quality products is the optimal development of the fermentation process. Due to too less specialized and qualified personnel the fermentation is controlled by a formalized program. These programs take no variations of the process parameters into consideration. Therefore the proofing of dough often preforms suboptimal and large amounts of rejects is produced. By using a camera-based optical measuring system with a fuzzy- based control system, differences in the fermentation will be detected and the process will be adapted to the actual state. The aim of this project is to ensure a given proofing state independent of raw material variation, processing quality and operating errors. Contact