Looking to the future

by Teresa Acklin
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Conference examines novel uses and processes for grains

   The potential of wheat and other cereals as industrial raw materials was explored at the first scientific conference held in early June at the Satake Centre for Grain Process Engineering, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, Manchester, U.K. More than 100 delegates from 21 countries attended the two-day conference to hear speakers from 15 countries present papers outlining the very latest research in new products and their processes from around the world.

   The opening session was chaired by Colin Webb, director of the Satake Centre. Bob Boucher, UMIST vice chancellor, welcomed the delegates to the conference, which also marked the official opening of the center. In his welcome, Mr. Boucher pointed to the need for scientists to link with industry in their quest to steer the world in the direction of safe, practical and economic new products and methods of manufacture to ensure population survival well into the 21st century.

   The keynote address was given by Bernard Atkinson, recently retired director general of the Brewing Research Foundation International, U.K., and a past head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at UMIST.

   Mr. Atkinson stressed that the conference would show how cereals, as a renewable resource, can provide biodegradable industrial products not just from existing processes, but especially from new processes. Cereal industries, including milling and brewing, must resolve benign pollution, or pollution that causes mild nuisance rather than harm, he said.

   Companies also need to look at new product and process development continuously if only to stand still in competitive terms, because everyone else is also advancing, he added. Mr. Atkinson challenged delegates to make the meeting more than a conference, but a workshop with conclusions.

   Research papers included the potential of wheat, barley, maize, rye, rice, sorghum, aramanth and oats as food, feed and industrial raw materials. They also described the various processes used for different products.

   Sessions began with the potential of wheat as an industrial raw material and moved through cereal starches and their uses, including polyurethane foam extended to biodegradable composites and plastics. Aramanth was highlighted as a source of specialty starches, and other papers covered gluten and proteins, bran and straw, whole crop utilization and biorefineries and food processes.

   Safety, both for human and industrial consumption, was stressed, and some papers also included medical and health aspects. Researchers from the United States, England, Scotland, Hong Kong, China, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Latvia, Canada, France and Zimbabwe participated.

   At the conference conclusion, it was clear there was much work to complete. The vision was one of integrated, wasteless, cost-effective bioprocesses, including products from fermentation for all sorts of food and industrial uses, all needing to be environmentally acceptable.

   Another interesting point to watch, one speaker said, was the current heavy reliance across the world on the three big cereal crops of wheat, rice and maize — but who can say that a crop with different yet valid characteristics will not seriously compete in the future?

   Organization of the conference was made possible by several sponsors, including CPL Scientific, U.K.; the Kellogg Company of Great Britain; Institute of Biomass Utilization and Biorefinery of Denmark; Silsoe Research Institute, U.K.; Dalgety PLC, U.K.; and the Satake Corp. of Japan.

   Professor Webb, who conceived the idea for the conference, and other organizers already have begun planning for the next conference on novel cereal uses and processes in 1998.

   A copy of the June conference proceedings will be provided free to delegates upon publication in the spring of 1997. Others may obtain copies by contacting Dr. Grant Campbell, SCGPE, UMIST, P.O. Box 88, Manchester M6Q 1QD, U.K. Fax: 44-161-200-4399. Tel: 44-161-200-4406.

Ceremonies mark official opening of Satake Centre at Manchester Institute in U.K.

   The University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology recently opened its new Satake Centre for Grain Process Engineering in Manchester, U.K. The academic center, established by UMIST through an initiative of Satake Corp. of Japan, is the first such institution for grain process engineering in the United Kingdom.

   Robert Satake, president of Satake Corp. and principal investor in the venture, presided at the center's opening ceremony June 12. The occasion also saw Dr. Satake receive UMIST's highest award, the honorary degree of doctor of engineering, to recognize his endowment of and continuing support for the center.

   Special ceremonies marked the opening of the Satake Centre for Grain Process Engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, U.K. From left, Graham Davis, head of UMIST's chemical engineering department; Robert Satake, Satake Corp. of Japan; Colin Webb, director of the center; Mrs. Satake; and Bob Boucher, UMIST vice chancellor.