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ICON: Rethink Energy 4 Food

The aim of the Rethink Energy for Food project is to accelerate the energy transition within the Flemish food industry through the introduction of new technology solutions. This will contribute to the Flemish 2030 objectives. The project focuses on energy and food process technologies that not only support the energy transition but also lead to improvements in product quality and production efficiency. The initiative includes an interdisciplinary approach where knowledge exchange, innovation, and application of sustainable technologies in the production processes of food companies are promoted, with an economic impact through cost reduction and investments in new technologies.

This project is a collaboration between Flanders' FOOD, Flux50, VITO, Howest, VIVES, KULeuven and Ghent University.

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Quick facts

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    CLUSCOOCK project

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    Uses VEG-i-TEC installation

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    Howest lead: Energy Lab

What are the main focuses of this project?

This project is divided in 4 different focus tracks:

Focus track 1: Electrification of oven processes

Facilitate transition from fossil fuels to microwave heating and infrared (IR) heating via electric radiators. Because these technologies cannot be applied to every food product and there are uncertainties among food companies about the precise energy performance and guarantee of product quality, this focus process will mainly involve experimental knowledge building and translation.

Focus track 2: Sustainable heat supply for temperature-intensive food processes

Greening the largest energy absorber in food production - namely high temperatures - by researching technologies such as Mechanical Vapor Recompression (MVR) and high-temperature heat pumps, and resistance heating (including electrified steam boilers).

Focus track 3: Energy Resilience: flexible handling of various (existing and future) energy sources, including storage

Flexible use of the available varied and fluctuating energy supply (including that supplied by released residual heat) without compromising process stability, by means of: energy storage technologies and energy management systems.

Focus track 4: Making cooling more sustainable

Reducing electricity use for cooling by making cooling processes at product level and in production areas more efficient and tackling cooling generation at the company in an innovative way.

What will Howest AI Lab do for this project?

Howest will implement 3 different cases that are all part of focus track 3:

Case 1: Circular heat

The 'circular heat' case focuses on the typical character of the processes in the processing and conditioning of fresh vegetables, where heat must be added in a semi-continuous manner (batch processing) which must then be extracted in further process steps.

Case 2: Freezing processes

Investigate whether the freezing tunnel process (energy-intensive process) can be stopped at an intermediate temperature, so that the desired minimum frozen storage temperature can be achieved in the less energy-intensive freezer room.​

Case 3: Energy management system as a total solution

The above case studies always discuss process optimization in depth. However, the objective of an energy management system can be seen more broadly. In accordance with the various data streams read from the site, this could be aimed at complete optimization with the aim of keeping the costs per kg of product produced as low as possible.


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    Arne Bauwens, Energy researcher for Energy Lab

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    Kyra Van Den Eynde, AI/CS Researcher, AI Lead

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    Energy Lab, Energy experts in Kortrijk

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    AI Lab, AI experts in Bruges and Kortrijk

Want to know more about our team?

Visit the team page