On 27 November 2017, Nina Chatsisvili defended her PhD thesis ‘Plant protein colloids in food emulsions’, at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Nina developed a method to convert insoluble plant protein material in sub-micron particles. These particles are so small that they do not sink when dispersed in water, so the dispersion can be used as a solution. The particles can be applied in food systems as if they are soluble. This solution can help the food industry to make high protein plant-based drinks, or label-friendly, non-animal source stabilizers for emulsions such as mayonnaise.
The idea for this approach came from fundamental research at the University of Utrecht. From its position between academia and industry, NIZO was able to translate this research into applicable technology. The interest in plant proteins has grown in recent years, as they are more sustainable than animal proteins and cost effective. This PhD work will help a broader applicability of insoluble plant proteins in food products.
The PhD work was supported by a Marie-Curie consortium grant of the EU and supervised by Hans Tromp, senior scientist at NIZO and associated with the department of Physical and Colloid Science of the University of Utrecht. This development is part of NIZO’s strategy to cooperate in fundamental science, in order to translate it into applicable technology for NIZO’s industrial customers.