Process Engineering Research to Improve Safety, Quality, & Utilization of Water, Food, & Biomaterials

The Food Safety and Sustainability Engineering Research lab at the University of Alberta focuses on improving the safety, quality, and utilization of food and biomaterials. We are working towards developing applications of the following advanced, green technologies to improve food safety and overall sustainability of food systems.

  • Atmospheric cold plasma and plasma activated water
  • Ultraviolet light emitted from LED
  • Micro/ultrafine (nano) bubble technologies
  • 3D printing/additive manufacturing of food

Following are the key research areas:

  • Antimicrobial Applications of Atmospheric Cold Plasma
    • Plasma activated air, water, micro/ultra fine (nano) bubbles, and mist 
    • Microbial decontamination 
    • Inactivation of microbial biofilms in processing environment 
  • Agricultural and Environmental Applications of Atmospheric Cold Plasma
    • Seed decontamination and germination improvement 
    • Mycotoxin degradation 
    • Plasma activated water as a green fertilizer and sanitizer for greenhouse and indoor farming - hydroponics and aquaponics 
  • Sanitation, Disinfection & Cleaning in Food Processing Industry
    • Conventional antimicrobial interventions (e.g., peracetic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, hydrogen peroxide, dry heat, quats)
    • Cold plasma and UV based hybrid treatment development with conventional antimicrobial interventions
  • Agri-Food Processing & Engineering
    • Low-moisture food safety engineering 
    • 3D printability of plant proteins, carbohydrates, and fibers  
    • Plant protein and carbohydrate particle formation (gels, powders, emulsions) and functionality improvement (e.g., peas, canola, lentil, faba bean, etc.) 
    • Conventional agri-food process intensification and development of novel processes 
  • Wastewater Treatment
    • Atmospheric cold plasma bubble technology development
    • Treatments using ultraviolet light pulses emitted from LEDs
    • Microbial decontamination 
    • Degradation of organic and inorganic contaminants in wastewater 
  • Micro/Ultrafine (Nano) Bubble Technologies 
    • Microbial biofilm inactivation 
    • Water treatment 
  • UV LED applications
    • Microbial decontamination 
    • Water treatment

Principal Investigator

Dr. Roopesh Mohandas Syamaladevi (M. S. Roopesh)

Associate Professor
Food Safety & Sustainability Engineering

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Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science
Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences
Offices: 3-16 Agriculture/Forestry Centre & 
             1-045 Agri-Food Discovery Place

Phone: 780-492-8413
Fax: 780-492-4265
Email: roopeshms@ualberta.ca
Office Hours: By appointment

Address: 
University of Alberta
3-16 Agriculture/Forestry Centre
Edmonton, AB 
Canada T6G 2P5

FSSE Laboratory: 
2-49 Agriculture/Forestry Centre

Novel technologies to improve meat safety and quality

Escherichia coli can exist as biofilms on equipment or contact surfaces used in the meat packing industry and can contaminate the beef products. Conventional methods such as the application of chemical disinfectants are not always effective in removing biofilms and they are not environmentally friendly either. Hence there is a need to explore the efficacy of new technologies to reduce E. coli biofilms in meat packing facilities. As part of the project funded by the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR), we are exploring the inactivation efficacies.... Read more

Plasma activated water bubbles for barley steeping

Deoxynivalenol (DON) is an important mycotoxin, that can cause major economic loss to grain farmers and malting industry. DON can end up in final products if the malting barley is contaminated with DON. Barley grains free of DON are required for malting and the DON-infected barley is rejected at relatively low levels (0.5 up to 4 ppm). In our research, plasma activated water bubble (PAWB) technology was utilized for barley steeping to reduce DON and improve seed germination, which resulted in a patent application and a technology licensing opportunity at the University of Alberta. Currently, we are looking for industry partners for future scale-up of PAWB.... Read more

 

Water Treatment

The agricultural and food processing industries produce large amounts of wastewater. The wastewater from these industries contains large quantities of organic and inorganic pollutants, and pathogenic microorganisms, so safe disposal requires adequate treatment, otherwise causing public health issues.

In addition, water quality and hygiene of drinking water systems (DWS) are extremely important in broiler and livestock production. Drinking water is susceptible to microbial contamination and DWS are prone to biofilm build-up over time. Biofilms are complex communities of microorganisms, surrounded by extracellular polymeric substances attached to surfaces.  Microbial...Read more

Mycotoxin degradation in cereal grains by cold plasma technology

Mycotoxins directly affect the health of human beings and animals, along with causing a huge economic loss to food/feed industries. It is estimated that 25% of agricultural commodities are contaminated with mycotoxins every year. There is no effective method currently available to eliminate the occurrence of mycotoxins in cereal grains and their products. Our lab has been testing atmospheric cold plasma (ACP) technology for its ability to reduce the number of mycotoxins (e.g., deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, T2- and HT-2 mycotoxins) affecting the cereal grains and oilseeds grown in western Canada (e.g., wheat, barley, canola, oats etc.).... Read more

Plasma integrated low-pressure cooling (PiLPC)

Our research team recently developed several novel ways to integrate cold plasma technology in a conventional food processing line. A novel low-pressure plasma cooling process was developed to achieve simultaneous fast cooling and elimination of microbial pathogens in agricultural materials and food products in a single process. We analyzed the influence of process parameters including treatment time, pressure, and post-treatment storage, on the inactivation of Salmonella Typhimurium in fresh-cut apples. In addition, cut apples dipped in citric acid followed by PiLPC increased the inactivation of Salmonella and polyphenol oxidase.... Read more

 

Improvement in plant protein 3D printability and functionality

To address recent consumer interest in plant protein-based food products,  we are working on the projects funded by Alberta Innovates and NSERC CREATE, that focuses on the utilization of Canadian protein crops. Specifically, we are using cold plasma technology to improve the functional properties i.e., gelling, digestibility, and solubility of various proteins, which led to a patent application. For the first time, we demonstrated the ability of cold plasma technology as a pre-treatment to prepare strong pea protein gels without using high temperatures. We expanded this work by using plasma activated water bubble (PAWB) technology to prepare pea protein gels.... Read more

Inactivation of desiccated bacteria on food contact surfaces

We tested and compared conventional (e.g., hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid, membrane-acting quaternary ammonium compounds) and novel technologies (e.g., plasma-activated water bubbles, plasma-activated hydrogen peroxide water bubbles) on microbial inactivation at low-moisture conditions. Generally, the bacterial cells in low-moisture conditions are extremely resistant to conventional antimicrobial treatments though the plasma based novel technologies were exceptionally effective against the desiccated cells.... Read more

In-package cold plasma treatment

We worked on exploring the potential of ACP technology for microbial pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella in high- and low-moisture food products. One of the key advantages of this technology is that plasma can be created inside sealed packages with trapped reactive species. This is an advantage for food processors, as it eliminates cross-contamination. My lab recently explored the application of in-package ACP technology for high-moisture products such as ham and low-moisture products such as freeze-dried pet foods. The modified atmosphere containing.... Read more

Biofilm inactivation inside pipelines by plasma activated water bubbles

Our recent study tested the continuous production and disinfection effectiveness of plasma activated water bubble (PAWB) under different hydrodynamic regimes (e.g., laminar, transitional and turbulent) against mixed species biofilms. We built a lab-scale drinking water system with microbial biofilms grown inside them. PAWB were generated and circulated continuously in the drinking water system. Increasing Reynold’s number of water circulation significantly resulted in the higher inactivation of the surface-attached cells into the.... Read more