R+D+i COLLABORATION PROJECTS
CIBENA is led by Siro Aguilar of the Siro Group and involves the companies HUERCASA, Dacsa, Epsa, Fruselva, Grupo BC, Interal and Sakata. Six public research organisations are also involved in the project (AINIA, IATA, ITACYL, CNTA, ITAGRA and IMIDA), as well as other external collaborators.
Ehe CIBENA Project operates within the value chain to provide accessible and affordable superfoods. With this in mind, the project takes a multifaceted approach that covers all aspects of food production from cultivation to use in other foods offered to consumers.
In this context, a superfood is considered to be any food that naturally contains a very high level of nutrients and healthy properties. These foods are concentrated sources of nutrients and other ingredients (such as antioxidants) that are needed to help the body function properly.
To obtain the general objective of the project, a consortium has been set up that represents the entire food production value chain in order to better determine what consumers want and how to approach and design products based on superfoods. The aim is to bring to market a range of products that include ancient grains, pulses and vegetables that will be sold within the cereal derivatives, convenience and ready-to-eat vegetables, pre-prepared meals and shakes, juices, purées and smoothies categories.
One of the main research angles of this project deals with the sensory properties of these types of foods. In particular, it will be necessary to study and develop flavours, aromas and textures that will help these types of products be widely accepted.
LIFE Algaecan Project
Huercasa is involved in the ALGAECAN project, financed by the EC via the LIFE programme, which is a financial instrument used by the EU to support environmental demonstration projects.
Heterotrophic microalgae require organic compounds for nutrition and grow in the absence of light. They have great potential with respect to removing organic carbon and various types of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds from wastewater, which they use as a source of carbon and energy without the need for sunlight.
The aim of the ALGAECAN project is to develop a plant to demonstrate a model for sustainably treating the wastewater generated by the fruit and vegetable processing industry through the profitable cultivation of heterotrophic microalgae. Subsequently, these microalgae serve as a raw material for the production of biofertilizers, animal feed, etc.
To achieve this, the project consortium will design and build a plant prototype, which will be fuelled using renewable energy (specifically, solar and biomass energy) in order to minimise the carbon footprint and costs of the operation. This plant will be installed in two demonstration units for a period of six months. One of these units will be located at HUERCASA's facilities in Segovia (Spain) and the other will be housed in the facilities of the company VIPÎ in Slovenia.
The technology developed under this project will help cut the cost of processing fruit and vegetables and reduce the environmental impact of the waste slurry generated by traditional aerobic treatment systems, which is usually taken to landfill. Using this technology, it will also be possible to obtain high quality effluent that can be reused for irrigation or cleaning purposes, or discharged directly into waterways.
Ultimately, the project aims to replicate its results in other locations.
The project consortium comprises the CARTIF Technology Centre (as coordinator), HUERCASA (Spain), the University of Athens (Greece), the AlgEn Technology Centre (Slovenia) and VIPÎ (Slovenia).
Diáspora 4.0 Project
The aim of this project, which is part of a tender operated by the Ministry of Industry, is to develop a ‘digital simulator’ that will replicate one of the production processes (a ‘digital twin’) of each of the above three companies in order to optimise them. It will then be possible to apply the results of this procedure so as to ensure the maximum level of success.
The simulation can be used to aid decision-making. It offers a wide array of possibilities when implementing improvements based on quality, time and production cost criteria. By generating a ‘digital twin’, businesses can assess changes and estimate the consequences of them quickly and economically.
For example, this methodology can be used to assess the consequences of introducing a new type of product into the manufacturing line, or how to assign work more efficiently between different operatives to make processes more balanced.
The ‘Development of Computer-processed Simulation Models based on the 4.0 Industry for the Food and Agriculture Industry’ project started in September 2017 and will run until March 2018. The initiative is co-financed by the tender to support Innovative Business Groups run by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry and Competition.