Since establishing his research group in 2013, Dr.-Ing. M. Azad Emin
has focused his research on the functionalisation and texturisation of plant-based foods using extrusion processes in four different areas:
1. The texturisation of plant-based proteins (e.g. wheat, soy and pea proteins) to develop meat analogues with muscle-like texture.
2. The functionalisation of plant-based proteins to extend their fields of application by improving their properties.
3. The upcycling and functionalisation of plant by-products from fruit, vegetable and grain processing (e.g. apple and carrot remains, brewer’s grains) so that their content-rich, bioactive substances can be fed back into high-quality foods and used to generate specific textures, e.g. for bakery goods, smoothies and sausages.
4. The functionalisation and texturisation of plant-based mixtures (e.g. mixtures made from a starch-based matrix containing plant proteins and/or by-products) in order to turn these fractions directly into ready-to-eat products such as breakfast cereals and snacks.
To make use of the full potential of the extrusion process, Dr Emin has developed an interdisciplinary research approach that brings together materials and engineering sciences, making it possible to characterise the process at the mechanistic level.
In future, the research will also focus on analysing and controlling the influence of the fractionation steps during the functionalisation/texturisation of plant-based foods. When previously fractionated and refined components are combined for final processing, the aim is to maximise the usable potential of the individual raw materials – while minimising side streams. It is known from the polymer industry that combining different components can even result in a mixture with material properties superior to those of its individual components. Ongoing research by Dr Emin and his team shows that, as expected, this also holds true for highly concentrated biopolymer mixtures. Despite its relevance to and importance for texturisation, current knowledge about mixing highly concentrated biopolymers is still very limited. Dr Emin and his team are systematically conducting research to bring about lasting change in this area.