Science and Engineering for Food and Bioproducts – SPABJuly 04 2022
President: Pierre Giampaoli
Vice-Presidents: Sophie Landaud-Liautaud – Henry-Eric Spinnler
Administrative and Finance Manager: Dominique Paillette
About the Department
The SPAB department focuses its teaching and research activities on issues that relate to the use of farming resources through processing. It primarily focuses on human food. However increasing research and expertise on raw materials, (bio)transformation mechanisms and processes, and the characterization of bio-product functions has naturally led the department to branch out into the rapidly growing field of processing agricultural resources for non-food purposes—also a major social, economic, and environmental challenge.
The department’s aim is therefore to prepare students (engineering, master’s, postgraduate, Ph.D., and Specialized Master’s students) for the range of careers in the field of agro-processing (and lumber processing), all while helping them acquire new skills and generating and developing innovations to contribute to the economic growth of the agricultural sectors involved in this transformation. To achieve this aim, the department must choose the right approach, first by aligning its research with its educational activities to offer a truly world-class education to its students, and also by conducting quality research in line with its areas of expertise and the human and material resources available to it, including by working together with its partners in the Joint Research Units associated with the department.
The department focuses its work on the industrial transformation of agro-resources into food and bio-products (cosmetics, biomolecules for chemistry, materials, energy) and on every aspect involved in ensuring consistent quality for industrial products.
Its activities contribute to addressing a major societal challenge—the transition to a sustainable bioeconomy—by focusing its strengths on two major issues (Horizon 2020):
- Offering a sustainable, competitive agri-food sector for safe, healthy food: sustainably transforming, distributing, and consuming products for safe, healthy food; considering the cultural aspects of food quality; and fostering innovation for health, competitiveness, and the reduction of petroleum-based ingredients and waste or greenhouse gas emissions;
- Offering sustainable, competitive biorefineries: developing second- and third-generation biorefineries; generating products with a substantial added value by using byproducts, optimizing biomass and waste conversion.
Data and Key Figures
60 AgroParisTech faculty members and engineers
41 faculty and research staff in associated Joint Research Units (INRA, CNAM, Paris Sud)
58 technical staff members (AgroParisTech, INRA, CNAM, and Paris Sud)
55 Ph.D. students and postdoctoral students
Teaching Units (TUs)
The SPAB department offers both traditional students (engineers, master’s students, and Ph.D. students) and postgraduate students (post-master’s and continuing education students) the knowledge and expertise they need to develop quality products and ingredients from raw farming and biological materials for both food and non-food purposes. It also strives to support students through customized career pathways involving entrepreneurship or an interest in research.
In the first year of the engineering program, the SPAB department coordinates core curriculum classes on processing (TUs from the “Production and Processing” block).It also participates in physics and chemistry teaching (the “Engineering and Mathematical Modeling” block). It is involved in the “Issues & Challenges” module at the start of the year, and is responsible for nine integrative modules: - Les perceptions sensorielles pour la conception de produit
- Sensory perceptions for product design;
- Promotion and communication;
- The winegrowing and winemaking sector;
- Agricultural and lumber biorefining;
- Applied uses of cellulose;
- Energy and environmental analysis of an agri-food sector;
- Agri-food management and projects: from farm products to food products;
- Water quality issues;
- Bioengineering of lipids: from genes to applications.
It also offers one elective TU: Product design and the engineering approach.
Lastly, the SPAB department coordinates the introductory TU to Field of Study 2:Designing an Industrial Scale Bioproduct – Practical Application.
The department also teaches second-year engineering courses, primarily in the core Field of Study 2 curricula (5 TUs), and related optional modules (20 TUs), including those that are part of the institution’s predefined programs (“Food Engineering” and “Biorefining – Green Chemistry”). It also participates in Field of Study 4 courses.
In Year 3 of the engineering program, the department runs five majors (alone or with other AgroParisTech departments):
- Product design and development (CDP);
- Process engineering and manufacturing (GPP);
- Biotechnology (BIOTECH);
- Health and safety and quality management (SSMAQ);
- Toxicological risks for ecosystems and human health (Métatox).
Furthermore, the department is involved in multiple master’s programs offered by AgroParisTech, some of which it coordinates alone and some of which are jointly coordinated.In concert with the Life & Health Sciences department, it oversees the “Food Nutrition and Sciences” (NSA) major at the BioSphera Graduate School, comprised of the first year of the NSA program and 6 different second-year subspecialties, five of which are run by the department:Product and Process Engineering, Microbiology and Biological Engineering, Analysis of Food-Related Health Risks, Environment, Health & Toxicology, and the Food Innovation and Product Design (FIPDes) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree program. It also coordinates the Process and Bioprocess Engineering master’s program offered by the Engineering and Systems Sciences Graduate School through a partnership with École Centrale and Paris Sud University. Furthermore, a “Process Engineering” first-year master’s program and two second-year master’s programs have been offered since 2016: Paris Sud University’s “Processes, Energy, and Environment” program, and the “Food, Biotechnology, and Processes” program coordinated by AgroParisTech/SPAB.
In addition, the department plays a key role in international programs. The SPAB department is closely involved in developing and maintaining two European programs: the European Master’s degree in Food Studies (EMFS) in partnership with the universities of Cork, Lund, and Wageningen, and the Bioceb (Biological and Chemical Engineering for a Sustainable Bioeconomy) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree program coordinated by the SVS and SPAB departments.
At the “Executive” (continuing education) level, the department is closely involved in multiple Specialized Master’s Degree programs: MASTERNOVA – Innovation Management in Agricultural Activities and Bio-Industry; and IPCI, Product Innovations at the interface between the Food Service and Agrifood Industries.
Process Engineering – Modeling
Food Sciences & Bio-products
Sensory Analysis – Sensometrics – Consumer Studies
Toxicology – Ecotoxicology – Analytical Chemistry
The department works in association with two AgroParisTech/INRAE Joint Research Units (SayFood and MICALIS) and also hosts the ABI (Industrial Agro-Biotechnologies) R&D unit. As part of its innovation and transfer activities, the department offers several R&D facilities: technology halls, the FRECE (Île-de-France grain crop studies) platform, Food’InnLab, and the Joint Technological Unit (UMT).
- The Paris-Saclay Food and Bio-product Engineering (SayFood) Joint Research Unit is associated with the following INRAE divisions: Processes for transforming organic matter into food and bio-based products; exploiting waste produced by human activities (TRANSFORM), Microbiology and the food chain (MICA), and Human nutrition and food safety (AlimH). It employs 121 permanent staff members. The highly interdisciplinary group brings together expertise from the fields of process engineering (mechanical, thermal, thermodynamics, reaction engineering, microbiological engineering, simulations, automation), microbiology (ecological engineering, microbial biochemistry, molecular biology), chemistry and physical chemistry (food science, materials chemistry, analytical chemistry), consumer sciences (sensory engineering, modeling of consumer preferences, virtual reality), modeling, and applied mathematics. The Joint Research Unit has technological facilities in Massy and Grignon (1,300 m2, 45 units), the FRECE platform developed through a partnership with Polytech-UPMC, shared equipment (for instrumentation engineering applications and for chemistry, physics, and physical chemistry analytics), instrumented process simulators, and computing clusters for simulating processes and their consequences on products. Lastly, it hosts INRAE TRANSFORM’s software platform devoted to analyzing and processing signals and integrating data and knowledge (PLASTIC). The scientific issues dealt with by the SayFood Joint Research Unit are focused on rethinking food engineering and bio-product and process engineering to develop new possibilities for sustainable food systems (from design to consumption). This research is taking place in the ever-changing scientific landscape of the Greater Paris region, which offers unique synergies that range from agricultural production to distribution and consumption, with the challenge of minimizing environmental impact by working to promote a circular economy while factoring in issues related to health and public policy. This research will further drive the research and education activities involving food systems conducted at INRAE and AgroParisTech. It is directly in line with the thematic priorities set out in the #INRA2025 Guidelines, the strategic frameworks in place in INRAE’s TRANSFORM and MICA divisions, and the department’s own strategic approach. The unit will also contribute to fostering unifying scientific ambition between INRAE and AgroParisTech units in the Greater Paris region, particularly in the area of “Food Science and Engineering.” It is able to take advantage of solid industrial partnerships and collaborations with different stakeholders from:
- Micalis Institute: only the Biofilms and Spatially Organized Communities (B3D) team of this Joint Research Unit hosts members from the SPAB department. It is associated with the “Bacterial Adaptation and Pathogenesis” hub and has eight permanent members. The team is tied to the Mima2 microscopy and imagery platform, which is home to extensive facilities. The team’s expertise focuses on microbiology across interdisciplinary, collaborative projects (modeling, food/product biochemistry, agronomy/breeding). They are seeking to understand bacterial behaviors within tridimensional structured systems such as food matrices or biofilms on inert surfaces. In these complex systems, the multitude of heterogeneous microenvironments causes a diversification of cellular types with a broad range of individual physiologies and behaviors, the contours of which are essential to understanding how to better control the health safety of these products. These studies are conducted on all levels of the food chain—during primary production (biocontrol), in the course of processing products (food/production facilities), and, more recently, in the digestive tract.
- ABI R&D Unit: the department coordinates the ABI R&D Unit. This unit is composed of a director and 20 scientific staff, and receives interdisciplinary support from a European project development manager and a business manager. The R&D Unit works on projects involving the exploitation of lignocellulose fractionation or food industry byproducts from chemical and biological sources, the microbial production of synthons, and the characterization of resulting synthesized bioproducts. It is also interested in the economic impact and analysis of these new developments. The R&D Unit has new facilities in a 2,300 m2 building at the European Center for Biotechnology and Bioeconomy in Pomacle (near Reims), shared with École CentraleSupélec, the University of Reims-Champagne-Ardenne (URCA), and Néoma Business School.
- La chaire de cosmétologie installée récemment à Orléans (Campus de La Source), dans 1300m2 de locaux neufs (mis à disposition par la métropole d’Orléans). Elle est appelée à accueillir une équipe d’une dizaine de cadres scientifiques (actuellement 5 dont le directeur). Cette équipe a vocation à former les étudiants qui se destinent plus particulièrement vers le secteur des cosmétiques avec le démarrage en Septembre 2022 d’une nouvelle dominante de 3eme année d’ingénieur sur les différentes dimensions des métiers de la conception, la production et l’innovation des cosmétiques durables (Cosm’Ethique). Par ailleurs la chaire a accueilli cette année une UV à choix de 2eme année et doit en accueillir trois l’an prochain. Une recherche pluridisciplinaire des cosmétique est prévue sur les problématiques qui concernent la mise au point de cosmétiques durable (Analyse sensorielle, formulation, génie des procédés, biologie de peau, microbiologie et chimie analytique).
- Upstream production (IDEAS—a network of scientists who work in the field of innovative, open design distributed to food systems that are transitioning towards more sustainability; the AgroParisTech Urban Agriculture chair for health risks (Refuge project), local processing and value creation, and feeding vulnerable populations);
- Nutrition and consumption (an inter-departmental working group at AgroParisTech on food behaviors (SPAB/SVS/SESG); the IRS NutriPerso and H2020 Stop projects);
- Green chemistry (CEBB – the European Center for Biotechnology and Bioeconomy, in Reims).