Aardappels in water

Water reuse and valorisation by-products during blanching in the potato processing industry

Why this project?

During the processing of potatoes into chips, the potatoes are blanched to prevent them from turning brown and from acrylamide forming. This water mainly contains (reduced) sugars and starch. Therefore, potato processors are looking for opportunities to re-use the water from the 2nd blanching cycler to save water and, if possible, energy (by re-using the hot water). 

Research approach

Sucr’eau is a collective research, development and dissemination project with the objective of selecting, demonstrating and optimising the correct water treatment technologies to extract the sugars and starch from the blanching water in an efficient manner. 
Specifically, we want to obtain this objective by:  

  • Characterising the blanching water based on the water treatment technology and the technology exploration connected to it  
  • Benchmarking and cost-benefit analysis of the various water technologies 
  • Optimising, demonstrating and implementing the selected technologies via on-site cases 
  • Characterising and valorisation potential of the extracted by-products and selected water technologies for similar sugar products 
  • Broad dissemination of knowledge to the actual and broader target group via workshops, demonstrations, events, etc. 

 Target group and expected results

On the one hand, the project is geared towards potato processors who see an opportunity for more sustainable processing and cost reduction. On the other hand, water technology companies (including sensor suppliers) can use this project to demonstrate and refine the technological capabilities and adapt them to a large target group of investment-intensive businesses.  
Businesses with potential valorisations for by-products also participate in this project. They can recuperate the sugars and/or starch extracted from the blanching water. This can be applied in the food industry as well as the animal feed sector. In addition, companies with by-products rich in sugars will be involved (e.g. dairy companies and sugar beet processing companies), which will allow the water technology companies to apply their extraction technologies. 

The selected water cleaning technologies will, after deliberation with the user group, be optimised and validated via cases. The best practices will then be retained and distributed to the broad target group. This will unite the different sectors (potato processing industry, water technology industry, by-products industry) to implement the technologies. For the potato processors, the main financial impact will be on water recycling (a 10% minimum goal) during the blanching cycle. The financial impact for the water technology companies is clearly focused on opportunities to sell installations to the potato processors, with a potential spillover to other businesses with by-products rich in sugars and the vegetable and potato chip industry. 

Project partners

Flanders’ FOOD manages and coordinates the project. Responsibility for the execution: 

  • Research group 'Department of Food Technology, Safety and Health', under the supervision of Prof. Imca Samper 
  • Watercircle.be, under the supervision of Matthias Mertens  
  • The project is also supported by Belgapom, the trade association for the Belgian potato trade and processing