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30th August 2021  Content supplied by: Life3 Biotech Pte Ltd

Using Technology for Face Masks to Make Better Plant Proteins? Life3 Believes It’s Possible

What do Covid-19 protective masks and plant-based proteins have in common?

The answer is: electrospinning. It’s a technology that applies an electric charge to a solution with dissolved polymers, creating fibres with a size of a few hundred nanometres. These nano fibres stick together forming a 3D structure with high porosity.

Electrospinning has long been used to produce filtering devices, but it’s versatile enough for bioactive compounds. More recently, it started to be applied to tissue engineering, but never to food.

That's where Life3 came in. The biotech company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Faculty of Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to explore the potential of electrospinning in the production of plant-based protein with meat-like texture, lower carbon footprint and less energy.

Life3 uses agritech and biotech technologies to create flavours for seafood and meat alternatives, develop Asian-based flavours, and create functional fats for taste and flavouring.

“Life3 has always been on the lookout for new frontiers in the food tech industry. We believe that electrospinning has the ability to mimic the texture of conventional meat and enrich plant-based proteins’ nutritional value. We hope to incorporate this technology into our products in the near future,” said CEO and Founder Ricky Lin.

The project will be led by Professor Seeram Ramakrishna, Director of the Centre for Nanofibers and Nanotechnology at NUS and a renowned electrospinning expert. "We are pleased to bring our rich experience in electrospinning to this partnership. Life3 has been instrumental in providing us with food manufacturing process knowledge to work on adapting electrospinning for the food tech space,” he said.

The immediate goal of the partnership is to create nano-sized protein strands with the same fibrillary structure of meat and better nutritional content.

"The results of our first trial helped us to better understand the formation of fibrous structure in different plant proteins using electrospinning," said Ramakrishna. "From here, we will move towards optimising the process for upscaling. We are confident that our method will soon bear fruit, with Life3 coming in with their expertise to harness the technology for large-scale manufacturing.”

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Date Published: 30th August 2021

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