Research infrastructure

Photo: Manuel Gutjahr

Fresh produce lab

The fresh produce lab and the laboratories connected to it are equipped with the most advanced technology. They enable comprehensive investigations and analyses of fresh produce, in particular fruit and vegetables, as well as of new methods for their preparation, transport, storage and presentation - from laboratory to practical scale. In addition to the central experimantal hall, the facility includes a cooling laboratory, optical labs and facilities for the processing and analysis of plant parameters. The innovation laboratory enables investigations on all aspects of innovative protein sources.    

An overview of the units with their technical equipment: 

The central hall with a total of 200 m² is predominantly used for varying experimental set-ups. It is equipped with various climate chambers and incubators as well as three Fitotron plant growth chambers (Weiss Umwelttechnik GmbH). 

The cooling laboratory comprises an analysis room and three separate cooling rooms. Equipment includes high-precision gas analysis technology (GC-2030 or GCMS-QP2010; Shimadzu), ethylene analyzer (ETD-300; Sensor Sense), climate measurement technology (temp., relative humidity, CO2/H2O) (LI-COR Biosciences; PP Systems) as well as CO2/O2 gas exchange systems and a film packaging machine (Multivac). The three high-precision cold rooms (Frigotec GmbH) are equipped with trickle cooling and each contains 12 individually adjustable CA chambers.

The optical labs comprise two artificial light rooms for hyperspectral image analysis and backscatter measurements, respectively, as well as the central optical lab. The central optical laboratory is equipped with various non-invasive optical measuring systems for the determination of quality-relevant and plant-physiological parameters: VIS and NIR, Raman and fluorescence spectrometers, chlorophyll fluorescence measuring technology (PAM 2000, Mini-PAM and Dual-PAM; Heinz Walz GmbH), image analysis systems (Open FluorCam FC 800; Photon Systems Instruments).

Analytics includes various analytical methods for plant pigments and other quality-relevant compounds, laboratory spectrometers, a Mettler titrator with automatic sample changer, systems for measuring osmotic and water potential (Wescor, Inc. ; Soilmoisture Equipment Corp.), instruments for leaf area determination (CI-202; CID Bio-Science, Inc.), a materials testing machine (TA.XTplus Texture Analyser; Stable Micro Systems) and two HPLC (UHPLC; Shimadzu; Agilent). 

In the innovation laboratory, tailor-made process modules (extraction, separation, evaporation, freeze, warm air and spray drying, encapsulation) are assembled for the sustainable production of protein-rich food from alternative sources such as legumes and edible insects.
Various non-thermal processes (high-voltage pulses, ultrasound, isostatic high pressure, cold atmospheric pressure plasma, fermentation) are used for extraction and modification of relevant food ingredients, sometimes combined with conventional processes (ultrasound, high-pressure, high-voltage pulse extraction, ultrasound, plasma drying).
Structure-related physicochemical and techno-functional properties are measured using conventional methods of ingredient analysis, as well as particle analysis (HORIBA LA-960, Microtrac Retsch) and measurement of the zeta potential (Zetasizer Pro, Malvern Panalytical).