Murat Balaban, Ph.D.
Food Science and Human Nutrition
2007 AwardeeFood science and human nutrition Professor Murat Balaban says that he tries to apply engineering principles to foods and biological matter in innovative ways, and to develop processes and generate knowledge that can be applied to industry. During his career at UF, Balaban has worked on ways to pasteurize orange juice and other products using carbon dioxide, to measure the quality of seafood, to more effectively and efficiently dry fruits such as grapes without the use of sulfites, and to increase the quality of coffee.
In the orange juice project, Balaban found that carbon dioxide gas under high pressure can produce orange juice that tastes just like fresh-squeezed, but is as safe to drink as the heat-pasteurized variety.
“We have done extensive taste tests where people cannot tell the difference between fresh-squeezed orange juice and orange juice that is made safe and long lasting with this process,” Balaban says.
In the new continuous process, fresh-squeezed orange juice is mixed with pressurized carbon dioxide and passed through a tube. At the end of the process, the juice is depressurized and separated from the gas, killing harmful microorganisms.
Balaban also helped to develop a highly accurate electronic nose that sniffs out fishy seafood before it gets to the consumer.
“The electronic nose gives us nearly 100 percent accuracy and could be just what we need to help seafood inspectors handle their growing workload,” Balaban says. The noses are computerized tabletop units with sensors that detect odor molecules. They are also being used to find bacteria in wounds, inspect toxic waste sites and check the quality of wine and coffee.