Redesign of collagen casings for high quality performance using food grade polysaccharide ingredients.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences


The challenge for DEVRO plc is to create casing products similar in quality to real gut materials, used in artisanal manufacture of e.g. sausages. The current technology is to use collagen pastes / gels, through an extrusion and setting process, to create3 billion meters of casing per annum, from a diverse supply of beef hides. The current process takes the natural diversity of beef hides and creates a suitable collagen gel, such that processing is consistent, producing stable products at a high throughput. However the products are inferior, in some aspects, to natural gut products and there is a desire to understand how the collagen casings can be adapted to provide the same properties. A physical sciences approach is to be undertaken, and the use of food grade polysaccharide ingredients will be explored. This will be achieved by scoping the effect of polymer type (neutral, negatively charged, hydrophobic), polymer molecular weight, polymers that are cross-linkable (e.g. sugar beet pectin), amorphous polymers and polymers that may interact with other commonly used casing ingredients, such as trivalent ions. Rheological (small and large deformation (flow - rotational and extensional)), thermal, spectroscopic and microscopy techniques will be employed to understand more about how the material structure-functionality can be controlled, while maintaining the major structural component of collagen. The polymers of choice may form structures which either gel or melt at high (cooking) temperatures, thereby allowing real product performance control. Also the thermodynamic compatibility with the collagen material will be explored to establish the structures in the paste / gel which are relevance for effective and efficient processability.
UoN have just completed a TSB funded project entitled 'Transforming wet perishable food waste streams for high value human consumption' funded under the 'Food Processing and Manufacturing Efficiency' call and relevant learning from that project with regard to new molecular functionalities will be available to the student. Additionally Foster has led Nottingham's participation in the Marie Curie ITN 'Shaping and Transformation in the Engineering of Polysaccharides' (2009-2013), hosting 4 PhD students and providing secondment opportunities for PDRA and PhD students from industry and academic partners, and currently leads the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing (in collaboration with the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University), involving 20 PhDs and 10 post docs.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N50970X/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1881732 Studentship EP/N50970X/1 01/01/2017 31/12/2020 Motolani Sobanwa