22 November 2018
SCI’s Seligman APV Trust Management Committee
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The UK food industry has been driven by engineering innovation and is now highly efficient. Centralised facilities generate food that can be moved through sophisticated supply chains to supermarkets and shops. The model for many years has been one of increasing centralisation; bigger and bigger factories, longer distances of travel. But the industry is a huge user of energy and water, the largest industrial consumer with 2.783 ktoe (thousand tonnes of equivalent oil) approx. 12% of the total industrial use (BEIS data). Food security and sustainability is often spoken of in terms of food supply and farming, of ensuring that there is enough food, and that food is produced sustainably, creating a linkage between food, energy and water. But it is important to minimise waste and energy throughout the food chain, and in manufacturing the role of the food engineer is critical.
This is not a new problem; the development of the plate heat exchanger by Seligman enabled efficient heat recovery for liquids processing. Conventional food processes still however often contain major heat loads supplied from steam – emerging processes (some of which have now been emerging for 50 years) like high pressure may be easier to decarbonise, but are expensive to operate. New manufacturing concepts are being developed – such as distributed rather than centralised manufacture as a model for minimising transport costs and increasing local production. In some places, distributed manufacture has already happened – the growth of the local craft beer sector is a response to the taste (or lack of it) of many centrally-produced beers. Local production could however be more expensive in terms of waste – keeping many sites hygienic is more difficult than centralisation. The lecture will develop arguments about how to create sustainable processes, taking examples from a major RCUK project on sustainability in the food chain (lead by Brunel, with Manchester and Birmingham), as well as from successful (and less so) research projects carried by by the lecturer.
University of Birmingham
Peter Fryer is Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. He studied Chemical Engineering at Cambridge, and after a year canning mushy peas for Unilever returned to Cambridge as a Lecturer. In 1994 he was appointed to a Chair at Birmingham, where he was Head of School from 2008 to 2014. He has published on a number of food engineering topics, including process cleaning, chocolate manufacture, validation of heat transfer processes and modelling of processes. He is Director of the EPSRC CDT in Formulation Engineering, which integrates work into microstructured products across foods, personal care, fine chemicals and ceramics, with industry partners including Unilever, Pepsico, Mondelez, P+G, Johnson Matthey, Imerys and Rolls Royce. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and of the Institute of Food Technologists.
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