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PEF Assisted Novel Applications for Potato Processing


Mark de Boevere, Managing Director at Pulsemaster, explains how Pulsed Electric Field Technology (PEF) can be used for potato processing. 

Pulsed Electric Field technology (PEF) enables the development of innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable processing concepts to manufacture chips, crisps and potato specialties. 

PEF treatment is already applied in chips production on industrial scale due to the many benefits and possibilities. PEF technology has also been tested and validated for other applications such as olive oil[1], fruit juices[2], tomato peeling [3] and red-wine making[4].

How PEF works

PEF is a non-thermal technology for food processing based on the application of repetitive, short electric field pulses to the food. This creates miniscule holes in the plant cells, which makes the cells porous and facilitates transport of water and other valuable compounds. A typical PEF system for potato processing consists of a high voltage pulse generator and a treatment chamber through which the potatoes flow in water. In the treatment chamber the high voltage pulses are applied. 

New possibilities

In the potato industry, PEF technology results in improved cut quality: a softer texture facilitates cutting and gives chips a smoother surface which then reduces oil absorption during frying. Chips are long because the potatoes break less during processing. New cuts, shapes and chips made from different vegetables now belong to the possibilities. Tough and inconsistent raw materials like sweet potato, turnip and beet root become easily processable with PEF.

Chips cut potato after PEF is much less rigid than an untreated potato. This results in texture softening, smoother surfaces, no feathering, less oil absorption and this reduces breakage, cutting energy and blade wear.


Usage of PEF results in higher yields, while also less energy is needed due to the replacement of the thermal pre-treatment, continuous operability, short processing times, and waste-free processing. Additionally, PEF treatment enables substantial water savings. A potato processor who implemented PEF technology explained: “the implementation of PEF has enabled us to save eight percent of our fresh water usage, or 70 million litres per year, which is the equivalent of roughly 28 Olympic sized swimming pools.” 

Research Worldwide

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canadian research institutes are doing research and product development on PEF systems for the benefit of the Canadian and global food industry. A Pulsemaster Solidus pilot-scale batch PEF system is used for research on solids like potatoes, onions, fruits. A Pulsemaster Liquidus continuous pilot-scale PEF system is used for research on liquids like fresh fruit juices. Both systems are used by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canadian research institutes and they welcome contact from commercial companies and science sector, interested in exploring specific applications of PEF technology for science based precision processing of healthy, structured and tasteful foods and beverages.

Costs & capacities

On a commercial scale, the total processing costs are typically 1 Euro/ton (0.1 Eurocent per kg/0.056 US Dollarcent per lb). Treatment capacities of Pulsemaster PEF equipment vary from 1 to 90 tons (2,200 lbs-198,000 lbs) per hour for cell disintegration of potatoes with practically no size limitations. Today Pulsemaster's largest industrial sized PEF equipment can process to up 90 tons (198.000 lbs) per hour in one, broader transport system executed with multiple treatment chambers, to meet the growing demand for higher input capacities in the potato industry. Overall, the system results in higher output of chips, reduced investment costs and higher product quality. 

Future work in progress

Pulsemaster is continuously developing commercial scale PEF systems. Future applications of PEF in potato industry may include enhanced blanching, drying processes and wastewater treatment. The research targets to increase yields and reduce costs of processes like microbial inactivation, drying, osmotic treatment, freezing, extraction and diffusion processes, show the tremendous potential of this emerging technique beyond the examples presented in this article.

Mark de Boevere, Managing Director at Pulsemaster

Mark has experience in emerging technologies and novel food processes. Dedicated experience in product development and equipment for pulsed electric field PEF processing.



1. Taste of Science (2018) 'PEF enhances olive oil yields' 

2. Taste of Science (2018) 'Fruit juice pre-treatment 

3. Taste of Science (2018) 'Steam peeling of tomatoes' 

4. Taste of Science (2018) 'PEF facilitates polyphenol extraction during red-wine making' 

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