Addressing Global Food Waste Challenges with Local Technology
This article appeared in the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Imagine a world where less food is wasted, where hungry families have more resources, where the planet is a cleaner place. Now imagine being able to accomplish that while creating additional revenue streams for businesses.
Two Michigan companies have worked together to address these critical issues by developing the RENU™ Drying and Milling System.
Created by GTF Technologies and engineered with MMA member DISHER, RENU™ simultaneously dehydrates and mills fruits, vegetables and plants, creating powders that can safely be used as ingredients in foods, pet foods and beverages, as well as for bioplastics, fertilizers and vitamins. The powders are lightweight, easy to transport, do not require additives and have a long shelf life — and the entire process only takes seconds, making it an energy-efficient solution.
Among other services, Zeeland-based DISHER provides engineering support, manufacturing technology advancements, product development and other innovative solutions to manufacturing companies. Their mission is to make a positive difference and leave the world better than they found it.
In early 2021, Ada-based GTF realized current technology was deficient for upcycling foods on a commercially viable scale. They reached out to DISHER to help them design the RENU™ System from scratch.
“Our vision is to make a positive difference, and this product meets our mission 110 percent,” says Laura Anthony, Marketing Content Manager at DISHER.
The RENU™ System, which stands for Rapid Extraction and Nutrient Upcycling, is a market-leading technology that has unlimited potential to address food waste and make a positive environmental and financial impact.
DISHER Engineer Joshua Manninen says that because the mill would be located inside businesses, the system can be an instantaneous extension of food processing. This would reduce rotting, reduce the amount of food in landfills and eliminate the need to transport leftover foods or send them for composting. Take a commercial vegetable or fruit farm, for example. Leftover produce could be milled into powders with plenty of nutrients before spoiling, creating another stream for farmers.
“The potential is there to partner with many charitable organizations to get food to people,” Anthony says.
Manninen says they still have pilot testing to complete and that patents are pending for the milling process. However, as the product continues to develop and various capabilities are designed, the utilization of this groundbreaking Michigan-made technology could become transformational on a global scale.
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