Mühlenchemie GmbH & Co. KG is one of the world’s leading companies in the field of flour treatment. Its key competence lies in solutions for flour standardization, flour improvement and flour fortification – from classic flour treatment to concentrates for ready-mixed flours. Mühlenchemie exports its products to over 120 countries and maintains close relations with more than 1,000 mills around the globe. At the foreign affiliates in Mexico, Singapore, India, China, Russia, Brazil and Turkey a team of experts supports mills on the spot and offers individual solutions to ensure optimum flour quality. For this, Mühlenchemie has developed enzyme systems,
flour maturing and oxidizing agents, bromate replacers, emulsifiers, vitamin and mineral premixes and functional systems for ready-mixed and composite flours. Mühlenchemie standardizes over 70 million tons of wheat a year.
The German company is also specialised in enzyme-containing compounds for pasta flours. It has recently opened a trials laboratory for pasta thus considerably expanding its efforts in this field. Mühlenchemie sees the interlocking of expertise in raw materials and plant and equipment as a promising way to advance the development of innovations and product optimizations for the pasta market. We wanted to learn more from the head of Research & Development at Mühlenchemie, Dr. Lutz Popper, about this global player’s vision for the future.
Dr. Popper, Mühlenchemie is known for its expertise in the field of enzymes and additives. Now your company is getting more deeply involved in the production of pasta. What decided you to invest in pasta equipment?
For many years our portfolio has included compounds of active constituents to improve pasta flours or semolina. We have now created an optimum environment on the production side of the equation, so that we can improve our practical response to the challenges in this industry. The pilot plant allows us to become thoroughly versed in the production process so that we can tweak each ingredient until it works in the best possible way when the product is used in the client’s plant. This adds a new dimension to our range of services.
You are therefore reducing the gap between lab and industrial scale. What is special about this plant?
It is a small, extremely flexible pilot plant from Pavan; only a few models exist anywhere in the world. Its continuous hourly throughput is 70 kg, the minimum volume for a trial is between 10 and 15 kg of finished product. One special feature, for example, is the vacuum at the blending and extruding stages. This prevents oxidative side reactions and changes in colour. But what was really important to us was that it has a wide range of uses and options.
Drying is also a sensitive part of production. The quality can easily suffer at this stage and discolouration, cracks and breakage can be the result. What feature was important as far as the drying part was concerned?
Time, temperature and humidity have a major influence – and they also impact the efficiency of our enzyme systems. Therefore we have to be able to control these factors very precisely. The new, fully automatic climate cabinet can be variably adjusted to control temperatures, air flows and humidity. So now we can individually adjust the various drying and relaxation phases in the production of pasta, e.g. spaghetti.
What concrete benefit does your new trials laboratory offer a pasta manufacturer?
The plant is so flexible that practically every manufacturing process can be simulated. This lets us test various enzyme systems for the client until they are exactly right for use, and the client does not have to interrupt his routine production to perform his own tests. Obviously, this saves enormous amounts of time and money. And it gives the client reassurance that no major problems should be expected when he switches his own production system to the new recipe.