Purdue's new extruder will enhance education of food science students
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Purdue's new extruder will enhance education of food science students

Aug 11, 2023

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. − Progress in the food science industry was made this week with the donation of an extruder machine to Purdue University, making it the only university in the country to have this technology on its campus.

Hillenbrand and Coperion donated a ZSL 27 Mv PLUS extruder to the Purdue Food Science Department. According to a release, this extruder is valued at more than $900,000 and is a critical piece of equipment for the food processing industry.

"The extruder is ... a technology providing the highest level of technology and capabilities," Kevin Buchler, president of food, health and nutrition at Coperion, said Tuesday. "And the feeders that are associated with that are providing the most accurate ingredients into those systems. And so it's a great opportunity for us to really think about how we can develop new experimental projects in emerging markets like meat alternatives (and) the production of ready-to-eat cereals.

"It really also allows the organization and users to really scale up and understand what are the requirements for large scale production as well. It's a really versatile machine," he said.

Overall, the extruder will help expand the testing capabilities within alternative protein foods while providing food science students hands-on opportunities.

"This is pea-protein isolate," Contessa Ye, a process engineer with Coperion, said in reference to one of the products produced by the extruder. "This is an intermediary product. You could shred this and make kind of like a chicken product. You can see here there are these nice fibrous layers on the inside, which gives it that chicken-like texture. So you could just put this on a pan, pan-fry it, season it."

Representatives from Purdue, Hillenbrand and Coperion all spoke on the donation of this machine and its importance to the university and the furtherment of food science.

Hillenbrand is an industrial company that provided highly engineered "mission-critical" processing equipment and solutions in more than 100 countries. Hillenbrand caters to industries including durable plastics, food and recycling.

Coperion specializes in equipment for the food and health industries It develops and produces plants, machinery and components for the food, pet food, baking, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries, according to its description.

"Purdue University is so excited about this partnership with Coperion and Hillenbrand," Alyssa Wilcox, chief of staff for the Office of the (University) president and senior vice president for partnerships at Purdue, said. "We're appreciative that you picked Purdue. You didn't pick these other universities, like Penn State, that you could've gone to. (Purdue) has national and international preeminence in this area (of food science). ... I'm looking forward to continuing conversations with Coperion and Hillenbrand on what we can do next. So, thank you."

Kim Ryan, president and CEO of Hillenbrand, spoke further on the company's presence on Purdue's campus.

"On campus, you may have noted the Hillenbrand Biomedical Engineering Center or Hillenbrand Hall," Ryan said, "these are long time investments in the university that has continued to invest in our state and growth of careers in this part of the world."

Dr. Senay Simsek, a professor and head at the Purdue Department of Food Sciences, commented on the milestone this donation marks for Purdue.

"I also want to highlight, we are the only university in the United States ... (to have) this technology," Simsek said. "So thank you Coperion and Hillenbrand."