Gimme Your Research Needs...Please

By Annel K. Greene, PhD, Center Director
Clemson University Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center

In October 2011, the Clemson University Animal Co-Products Research and Education Center (ACREC) and the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF) embarked on a renewed working relationship to find research solutions for the rendering industry. The first step in all research endeavors between a university and industry is identification of the most critical areas of need. Afterwards, researchers across the entire campus are asked to consider the research problems and devise ways to study and resolve the issues.

At Clemson University ACREC, a request for pre-proposals is prepared listing the highest priority research need areas. This list is sent to researchers who then develop pre-proposals describing potential projects. During the ACREC Research Committee meetings, the researchers discuss the proposed project one-on-one with FPRF members to ensure the project goals fit with the industry’s needs and the proposed procedures would provide the answers needed. Those projects that are deemed by FPRF members to have merit for the industry are fine-tuned during the ACREC Research Committee discussions.

This interaction between FPRF members and the researchers is designed to bring a better understanding of the industry’s needs to the researchers in context of rendering’s unique aspects. This opportunity not only allows the researchers to further understand rendering but also gives FPRF members a better understanding of research capabilities and limitations. Sometimes the proposed project idea is not on target for the industry but will spark an idea that leads to other work to resolve issues of need for the rendering industry. After the discussions, the chosen projects are revised, as needed, per FPRF directions.

In order to develop the best research for the rendering industry, it is important to identify the most critical areas of need. In discussions with industry representatives, three areas of critical research need that have been identified thus far are (1) validating pathogenic bacterial death during rendering processes, (2) products that can be applied to protein meals for continued antibacterial protection, and (3) solutions to the polyacrylamide problem in dissolved air flotation sludge.

Validating destruction of pathogens will not only contribute to the pool of knowledge about the safety of rendered products, but this information is also vital for upcoming regulatory discussions. Work has already been underway in this area at Clemson University ACREC but continuing research needs to be conducted to obtain the next pieces of validation data.

Antimicrobial products are needed to provide protection against microbial recontamination of finished animal protein meals. There are commercially available antimicrobial products currently on the market but the choices are limited. If additional antimicrobial products can be identified, then renderers will have more choices for protecting finished meals.

Polyacrylamide is used in the treatment of wastewater to facilitate removal of solids. However, when these treated solids are presented in the rendering environment, this same polyacrylamide causes significant difficulties for processing. Polyacrylamide emulsions do not readily breakdown and the nature of the polyacrylamide can cause coating difficulties in rendering processing equipment. Currently, ACREC researchers are working on alternative methods of wastewater treatment to eliminate polyacrylamide. In the meantime though, considerable wastewater sludge containing polyacrylamide remains a problem for the industry. This is one of the more difficult research dilemmas and new, innovative solutions will be needed to resolve this issue.

What other high priority research needs should be investigated for the rendering industry? There may be needs across the entire industry, or unique needs related to a particular segment such as specific types of rendering or based on the species rendered. Or perhaps there may be needs based on the unique nature of dead stock versus offal processing. With an up-to-date list of the industry’s specific research needs, researchers can develop the most meaningful and effective studies to assist renderers. However, the researchers need the industry’s assistance in developing a list of critical research needs.

What are day-to-day problems that you and your company encounter?

Is there a difficult step in the operation that could be made less troublesome if it were re-engineered?

Is there any particular parameter that needs to be measured to ensure compliance with regulations?

Or is there any research need that will improve safety for workers?

Once a list is established, it will be prioritized by FPRF members on the ACREC Research Committee based on practicality and whether the problem is widespread within the industry. Those research topic areas that are deemed to have merit will be further considered. In collaboration with Clemson University, the problem area and need will then be assessed on whether it can be resolved through research. Researchers from across a wide array of disciplines will be asked to consider the best way to approach the research dilemma with the goal of finding solutions for the rendering industry.

But it all begins with the industry giving researchers a list of high priority research needs.

If you have a research area you would like ACREC to consider in the request for pre-proposals, please e-mail your topic by February 20, 2012, to Dr. Annel K. Greene or Dr. David Meeker. These challenges will then be sent to ACREC researchers to see if solutions can be devised for the rendering industry.

February 2012 RENDER | back