Interview - Dr Francisco J. Barba from the University of Valencia
In the AQUABIOPRO-FIT project, the University of Valencia will focus on extracting high-value nutritional compounds from marine side streams. We caught up with Dr Francisco J. Barba to learn more about which types of innovative food processing technologies can improve the effective separation and concentration of nutrients and bioactive compounds.
What is your area of expertise?
I currently work on innovative food processing technologies such as high hydrostatic pressures, pulsed electric fields, high voltage electrical discharges, ultrasound, microwave and extraction in supercritical fluids.
Most of my studies so far are aimed at the application of innovative processing technologies for food preservation to better retain the nutritional, organoleptic and bioactive characteristics of compounds. I have also been involved in the evaluation of different non-conventional technologies for the valorisation of by-products from the agri-food industry. For example, recovering compounds of interest from a nutritional point of view, that can be used as potential food additives of natural and/or nutraceutical origin.
In addition, I have published a number of scientific journal articles in the field of evaluation of cytotoxicity, bio accessibility and bioavailability of the extracts obtained through conventional and non-conventional extraction processes as well as the isolated and purified compounds.
How did you come to work in this field?
After completing degrees in Pharmacy and Food Science and Technology, I realized that I was passionate about emerging technologies such as high hydrostatic pressures and electrical pulses for food applications due to their potential in both the field of Pharmacy and Food Science and Technology. I started evaluating the opportunities of these technologies for nutrient and bioactive component retention when applied for food preservation. Moreover, my enthusiasm was strengthened during predoc and postdoc stays at TU Berlin and UTC Compiègne; universities that are a renowned for the use of innovative food processing technologies. Here, under the supervision of Prof. Knorr and Prof. Vorobiev, I realized the great potential of these technologies for sustainable valorization of food by-products to obtain bioactive compounds. These compounds are considered the basic pillar for nutraceutical industry. My stay at the University of Copenhagen as part of a Marie Curie IEF program, also gave new insights about the use of non-thermal processing for the development of new products.
What is your role in the AQUABIOPRO-FIT project?
Our team is responsible for the evaluation of non-conventional processing for more effective separation and concentration of nutrients and bioactive compounds. Additionally, we lead the work on the evaluation of toxicity, bio accessibility, and bioavailability through in vitro model studies and in vivo studies on rats.
What was it about AQUABIOPRO-FIT that triggered your interest?
One of the things that undoubtedly made me get involved in this project is the importance of by-products obtained from aquaculture especially in light of the increased consumption of fish and therefore the growth of side streams that contain healthy compounds. Of particular interest is the use of alternative technologies that can recover healthy compounds while preserving the characteristics of the fish products. This is definitely a very important challenge to work on, both from a circular economy and health perspective.
What do you expect to gain from AQUABIOPRO-FIT?
Thanks to the AQUABIOPROFIT project, our team would like to acquire both basic and advanced knowledge regarding the potential of innovative processing technologies such as pulsed electric fields, accelerated solvent extraction, supercritical fluid extraction, ultrasound, and microwaves, in the valorisation of fish aquaculture by- products. Moreover, we would like to research how new high-added value products can be developed which can be used in new markets including food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. We would also like to explore the health aspects of these new products through bio accessibility and bioavailability studies as well as the evaluation of the cytotoxicity.
What value/impact will the results from the project bring?
Obviously, (circular) economy is one of the main pillars of the project. The activities developed by University of Valencia will contribute to new applications regarding the use of innovative processing technologies. When implemented at industrial scale this could lead to the development of new equipment and the creation of new jobs.
The Consortium consists of 3 universities, 1 large company, 3 SMEs, 1 NGO and 4 research institutes from 7 European countries. Find out more about the University of Valencia and the other AQUABIOPRO-FIT project partners in the links below.
Relative project terms
Clinical tests , Communication , Fish side stream bioactives , Marine elixir development , Model studies - documentation , Training , Tunicates
Category: Internal project activities