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FPRF Research Wrap-up By Jessica Meisinger, Director of Education, Science, and Communication Research Paying off in the New Year Fats and Proteins Research Foundation The New Year is off to an exciƟng start for Fats and Proteins Research FoundaƟon (FPRF)-funded research. The porƞolio is always changing as researchers come up with novel ideas and FPRF members discuss challenges that research could potenƟally solve. One of FPRF’s main focus areas is new uses for rendered products. Dr. Mark Blenner at Clemson University is working to develop a bioprocess that will convert the fat in tallow to high-value and highdemand omega-3 faƩy acids. One of the biggest factors inhibiƟng commercial fish producƟon is the lack of omega-3 faƩy acids derived from fish oil that is dependent on a decreasing supply of small fish caught. Blenner is using a strain of yeast for the conversion, which is showing promising results. He believes that biosysthesis of these faƩy acids could provide an economic, reliable, and sustainable alternaƟve to tradiƟonally used fish oil. Another example of new use research is an automoƟve polymer being developed by Dr. Srikanth Pilla, also at Clemson University. The overarching objecƟve of the project is to create high-strength, toughened, self-healing, cross-linked thermosets, and composites from proteinaceous materials from the rendering industry for performance-oriented applicaƟons. Pilla is a professor with the Clemson University Research Foundation, one of the most highly respected automoƟve programs in the United States (US). He is working on the addiƟon of a self-healing capsule to the thermoset so the epoxy could recover, on its own, from scratches. Pilla points out this thermoset would be highly recyclable, leading to a considerably reduced environmental footprint and increasing the bio-friendliness and acceptance of the composite. This in turn will add value to rendered animal proteins. Clemson University researchers Drs. Alexey Vertegel and Vladimir Reukov are also examining new uses for rendered products by developing a novel natural anƟoxidant that can be used in pet food and is comparable to commercially available anƟoxidants. The researchers currently are focusing on shelflife studies to strengthen their new ingredient peƟƟon to the Food and Drug AdministraƟon (FDA). Vertegel and Reukov are also collaboraƟng with Dr. Rafael Garcia at the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, who is using the waste product from the anƟoxidant producƟon as a natural flocculent for wastewater. One area of research important to both independent and packer members, as well as plants of all sizes, is rendering plant efficiency. Research is being conducted on water quality, odor, and other issues that are common to most rendering faciliƟes. The current rendering industry standard for wastewater treatment uses dissolved air flotaƟon (DAF) to remove fats, proteins, and other suspended material from wastewater. The DAF process uses flocculants to aid the coagulaƟon and removal of solids. DAF material is high in fat, which makes it a challenge to deal with. Dr. Christopher Kitchens at Clemson University is working on alternaƟves to polyacrylamide. If successful, this project has the potenƟal to improve the rendering process by lowering the amount of fats and polyacrylamide in wastewater and provide the ability to recover those fats.   Two more Clemson researchers, Drs. David Ladner and Yi Zhang, are also focusing on improving wastewater by developing a field deployable system for tesƟng different membranes. This project builds on previous FPRF-funded research that determined some membranes worked as well as added polymers or other addiƟves at reducing fat in the wastewater system. These “pallet systems” could be used to field-test membranes in a plant environment and could be vital for scale-up. Drs. Daniel Whitehead and Frank Alexis at Clemson are developing nanoparƟcles to deal with odor issues that are a common problem in most rendering plants. They have created the nanoparƟcles, tested them for selecƟvity of malodorants, determined they are nontoxic and biodegradable, and are working to optimize the synthesis of the materials on a greater scale. The researchers are also tesƟng and refining the nanomaterials at the plant level rather than the benchtop, and performing an FPRF-funded project to determine if some of these nanoparƟcles exhibit anƟmicrobial properƟes. “We envision that these novel materials might provide a safe and reliable method: (1) to decontaminate work surfaces at rendering sites including raw material staging areas, raw material front-end loaders, raw-material trucks, and grease collecƟon bins; and (2) as a potenƟal nontoxic addiƟve or filter treatment for rendered products, especially fats, to prevent bacterial recontaminaƟon during trucking,” Whitehead and Alexis reported. Dr. Greg Aldrich at Kansas State University is researching flow behavior and spray coaƟng efficiency during the producƟon of rendered protein meals so that anƟoxidants can be used in the most efficient manner. The project was intended to characterize the flow properƟes of animal protein meals by mathemaƟcally modeling the material as a bulk solid. The intent was to use this more explanatory approach in creaƟng a baseline for future work and engineer a more ideal system to achieve opƟmized parƟcle sizes, conveyance equipment, and topical applicaƟon equipment. FPRF has also co-funded several new projects with the Pet Food InsƟtute and NaƟonal Pork Board. Dr. Merlin Lindemann at the University of Kentucky is beginning to examine the effect of different fat sources and vitamin E on anƟoxidant status, carcass characterisƟcs, and meat quality of pigs grown to a heavy slaughter weight. The researchers believe that faƩy acid impacts on human health are an important area of 24 February 2017 Render www.rendermagazine.com


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