FEW Workshop Themes

The proposed themes for the three-day workshop are described below, along with examples of emerging research topics. A steering committee comprising 15 members from academia, industry, and government agencies will discuss, modify, and/or add new themes before we solicit white papers for presentation at the workshop.

Sanitation technologies. Sanitation is critical for producing safe, high-quality food, but new technologies are needed to reduce the considerable amounts of water and energy required by current sanitation methods, and to mitigate their significant waste streams. These current methods also lead to production downtime, which increases industry costs and the cost of food for consumers. Some examples of research topics to address these challenges include:

Waste reduction technologies. Reducing waste in the food and bioprocessing industries is key to reducing water and energy use and improving sustainability. Some examples of research topics include:

Process design and modeling. Innovative process design and modeling are needed for green processes that produce value-added, convenient, nutritious, and safe food. Some examples include:

Socioeconomic behavioral analysis to mitigate barriers for technology adoption. The food industry tends to be conservative in adopting new technologies for reasons including low profit margins, regulatory requirements, decentralized decision-making, and consumer perceptions. For instance, while irradiation is an effective, proven method to increase food safety without generation of waste streams, consumer resistance to food irradiation has so far prevented the success of this technology. Another example would be plant operators’ resistance to adopting new technologies due to space limitations and the production downtime that results from the upgrade process. Understanding the socioeconomic factors that drive the behavior of plant personnel and consumers is critical for successful transfer of technologies from the laboratory to industry. Examples of potential topic areas in this theme include:

While these will be the central topics and the primary focus of the themes, the discussions will certainly be within the context of the interconnected relationships between Food, Energy, and Water