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FPP Chicago Speaker Interview: Ryan Kromhout, Global Industry Division Manager, Krohne

March 18, 2024

Ryan Kromhout is a longstanding expert in measurement technology and he’s witnessed many technical advances over the years. But, as he reveals here, there’s still much more to come in applying solutions that will disrupt how plant-based products are produced

Currently Global Industry Division Manager Food at Krohne, Ryan Kromhout recalls that his interest in measurement instrumentation actually began back in 1995. “I worked at Emerson Process Management and was impressed by the company’s Coriolis meters. Through various assignments in sales and business development for flow instrumentation and automation you encounter many ‘Would it potentially be possible to?’ questions and you start that discovery to challenge the limits of what instrumentation can do.”

At Krohne, Kromhout has been continuing that mission – he says the firm excels in solving challenges in never-been-done applications. Offering one prime example, Kromhout details, “For the new food industry, my focus is on the inline weighing (mass flow) of plant-based slurries to unlock the potential to greatly improve production processes that are based on weigh scales and batch type processing.”

And it’s the aforementioned Coriolis measurement technology that is the enabler here, as Kromhout reveals in more detail. “It enables plant-based ingredients to be blended very precisely with complementary ingredients, such as oils, spices and fibers inline. The ingredients can be handled as a fluid (despite air entrainments, fibers or multistage flow) all the way to a determination of its density and thereby concentration as an additional parameter for an on-spec production process.”

Engineering companies should remind themselves of an ethical duty not to put profit before performance

As well as plant-based products, this technology can be put to impressive use in cultivated meat applications, too. Kromhout says that the measurement technology offers the most precise measurement of mass flow for nutrients and gasses under all possible variances (such as changing process pressure, temperature and flow rates). “This ensures the best-possible predictions of the grade of fermentation until technology finds a way to truly master measurement of the various grades of fermentation,” he comments.

Kromhout also points out how such technology can assist in addressing some of cultivated meat’s other challenges. “Cost-effectiveness will probably be improved most by upscaling. Predictive and accurate scalability can be achieved by utilizing the identical measurement principles in the pilot plant-scale fermenters as later on in the large-scale versions. For instance, our Coriolis mass-flow meter is just as good for precisely measuring just 20 lb/hr all the way to 200,000 lb/hr by the same meter design. Whereas if you use a different measurement principle because what worked on a small scale is not available for large flow measurements, you might be facing another different set of challenges,” he notes.

One final benefit of applying this measurement technology is in the area of sustainability. Kromhout explains that, “It assists in mass balancing of how much matter and energy goes into a production for how much final product with what amount of waste. Increasing the amount of final product while ideally reducing the amount of waste is applicable to all food and beverage productions, not only alternative proteins.”

Given his status as industry veteran who has observed many trends over the course of his career, how does Kromhout predict that things will evolve next? “Upscaling and education both seem crucial in leaving this planet in a damaged but maybe no longer hopeless state for our grandchildren,” he comments. “Education is a necessity to increase the acceptance of fermented plant-based products as high-quality food. The economies of scale will help with regards to price parity. From a technology perspective, upscaling of fermenters and the respective feed while maintaining the tightest production tolerances will be a challenge not only for Krohne to contribute to solving. Here, engineering companies should remind themselves of an ethical duty not to put profit before performance.”

Ryan will be taking part in a panel in at The Future of Protein Production Chicago called, ‘Bridging meat science and innovation in alternative proteins, with a focus on hybrid and cultivated products', which takes place at McCormick Place on 24/25 April 2024. Book your tickets today to come and hear a further +85 speakers, 30 presentations, eight panel discussions and network with +400 other attendees. Click here

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us, please email info@futureofproteinproduction.com

About the Speaker

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