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Food engineering research at Massey University focuses upon the design and optimisation of processes and equipment used to make foods. Research methods include the construction and analysis of prototype and pilot-scale equipment and the formulation and solution of mathematical models of equipment and processes.
Wettability, particle to bubble attachment, dynamic absorption at interfaces, interfacial rheology, self-assembly and other interfacial phenomena are the core processes that occur whenever gas-liquid, liquid-liquid, gas-solid-liquid phases are present in a system.
Our expertise is in visualisation, characterisation and modelling of the interfacial phenomena which are central to colloids, coalescence, liquid filament breakage, and microfluidic flows.
Due to their complex structure and composition most food products have a complex, non-Newtonian flow behaviour. Our expertise includes measurement and characterisation of the complex rheology of food products including at very high shear rates, and the modelling and visualisation of fluid flow in complex geometries including inside dispensing systems and inside the digestive tract.
Understanding the molecular drives for chemical and physical changes in foods during processing and storage is vital for good food engineering design. We use magnetic resonance spectrometry and imaging to monitor the molecule states in food and have expertise in determining molecular changes in dairy systems, carbohydrates, as well as fruit and vegetable analysis and stomach emptying rates.
Research in meat science and technology is focussed upon production and processing factors that influence the textural and flavour properties of meat, refrigeration and packaging systems and on the identification and extraction of bioactive components from meat. Research is also carried out on further processed meat products and pet foods.
These research programmes cover the beef, pork and sheep meat sectors.
Our research expertise includes postharvest physiology and quality assessment including assessment of developing technologies for non-destructive measurement of quality. We also work on developing physical, temperature, and quality models.
Our staff also have experience in the application of postharvest systems in developing communities and the assessment of nutritional benefits of fresh produce food items.
We have expertise in non-food horticultural products such as ornamental plants.
Refrigeration is an important technique for food preservation and processing, especially for many of New Zealand’s export industries. Our expertise is in linking food quality outcomes to the design and operation of the refrigeration system. We also have expertise in the sustainable design and operation of refrigerated facilities, accounting for total environmental impacts including refrigerant selection and minimising energy use.
The Centre for Postharvest and Refrigeration Research does research and consultancy to provide cost-effective solutions to industry problems. We work on a wide range of fruit, vegetable, cut flower, seafood and aquaculture products.
Facilities within FoodPILOT include equipment for both animal and human food production. Capability includes extrusion, ice-cream-making, sausage stuffing,vacuum packing, bowl chopping, spray drying, evaporation, freeze drying, canning and pasteurising. FoodPILOT hosts the largest collection of pilot-scale food processing equipment in the southern hemisphere.