Research should improve long-term refrigerated storage of everything from food to medicine
Image Credit: Photo by V. Dia, courtesy of UTIA.
Have you ever wondered why ice cream is growing out of nowhere on that pizza or ice cream you forgot in the back of your freezer? The phenomenon is called ice recrystallization and is a problem that affects the quality and functional properties of anything that is stored in a freezer for long periods of time. This could include the long-overlooked pizza, ice cream, and other foods, and even items and materials that are stored in commercial facilities, such as biomedical tissue, cell cultures, and certain chemicals.
Scientists at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture donated $ 550,000 from the National Science Foundation to understand ice recrystallization and to study how fluctuations in freezing temperatures can limit the growth of ice crystals. According to Tong (Toni) Wang and Vermont Dia, both from the Department of Food Science, successful methods of inhibiting ice recrystallization (IRI) should improve the quality of frozen foods. Wang says, “IRI also has the potential to increase the resilience of crops and other plants to freezing temperatures, improve the cold storage of cells and tissues and other items needed to advance biomedical research, and even improve the properties and functionality of Materials such as de-icing for planes or roads. “
Although synthetic chemicals can be used as ice growth inhibitors, their wide use is limited due to toxicity. During the three-year funding period, Wang and Dia will try to understand how bio-based and non-toxic peptides work as IRI agents. The peptides are made from dietary proteins through enzymatic hydrolysis reactions in which protein is broken down in the water in our digestive system. The researchers also want to investigate how structural modifications of the peptides can enhance their IRI effect. Benjamin Doughty of Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a collaborator in the spectroscopic characterization of the IRI-active peptides.
The scholarship includes college-level STEM education, including for under-represented groups of graduates and students. Wang and Dia say the education should introduce students to the role of basic chemistry in advancing science. “This will have a lasting effect on the students’ appreciation for the application of basic knowledge in problem solving. Students will also develop their key competencies to become future biomaterials researchers through leadership training and introduction to FDA and EPA regulations for new bio-based compounds, as well as intellectual property protection and technology adoption. “
“We are pleased that the NSF has recognized the breadth of science and its potential practical implications for society and future scientists,” said Wang.
Through its land grant mission of research, teaching, and advice, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches life and offers real life. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.