Chemical structure of gluten

22 March 20247 min reading

Songül Türkoğlu
MSc Chemical Engineer
Quality Management Manager

As the cornerstone of the food industry’s flour and bakery production, gluten takes center stage in determining the texture and quality of various products. In this article, we explore the essential role of gluten, from its molecular composition to the advanced technologies driving its analysis.

Gluten has a key role in the food industry, especially in the production of flour and bakery products. The protein mixture in wheat includes glutenins, gliadins, albumins and globulins. These proteins, especially glutenins and gliadins, are the main components that determine the properties of the dough. Glutenins are large protein molecules that add elasticity and strength to dough. This has an important role in shaping the dough and improving the quality of the products. On the other hand, gliadins provide viscosity and elasticity properties to the dough, making it workable and firm. The balance between these two important types of proteins causes gluten to form a viscoelastic structure in the dough. The two components we mentioned determine the dough properties. These gluten properties meet a variety of needs in the production of various bakery products. For example, while pasta production requires flexible but non-resistant (viscous) dough, baklava requires a more extensible and durable dough. This means that different products can be made in the production process based on the properties of gluten.

Gluten analyzers are special devices designed to separate gluten from flour. These devices consist of water pumps, sieves, mixers and force springs. The process includes the following steps as standard: mixing, kneading and pressure of the flour sample with a mixture of NaOh (2%) and water at a constant temperature of 22 C ± 2 degrees for 5 minutes. These steps allow the gluten to be separated and isolated from other elements. Gluten washing devices stand out as an important tool in the food industry to understand the properties of gluten and improve product quality. These devices make valuable contributions to the industry in measuring the viscoelastic properties of gluten and optimizing the production of different bakery products by providing solutions in businesses.

1. Temperature of the solution to be used for analysis

While gluten analysis constitutes an important stage of quality control processes in flour factories, the washing solution temperature required for this analysis must be constantly controlled. Providing this process with traditional methods can be time consuming and inefficient. However, Makswell’s heated water tanks offer an innovative solution that allows users to automate gluten analysis processes and achieve optimum temperature control.

The solution temperature used in the analysis should be 22 ⁰C ± 2 according to international standards. Makswell’s 10 liter capacity water tanks are specially designed to keep the 2% NaOH (salt) and water mixture required for gluten analysis at a constant temperature of 22°C ± 2. These water tanks are made entirely of stainless material, which means they are resistant to corrosion. Thus, our water tanks offer long-lasting and reliable performance.

2. Problems and solutions related to the solution used during analysis

Gluten analysis is a critical stage that forms the basis of quality control in the flour industry. The amount of solution used in this process is an important factor that determines the analysis results. According to the standards, the amount of solution used should be 56 ml/min and the total amount required for an analysis is 280 ±10 ml. Controlling this amount meticulously is critical to obtain accurate and reliable analysis results. At this point, this process becomes more efficient and reliable with Makswell’s innovations in gluten washing devices.

Today, gluten washing devices generally consist of two washing channels, and most manufacturers use a single water pump to feed these channels. However, this can make it difficult to adjust the amount of water in both channels equally. If the amount of water is below the amount specified in the standards, it may cause the starch not to be completely separated from the gluten structure and the analysis results to be incorrect. In order to overcome this difficulty, Makswell uses two water pumps that feed each washing channel from a separate pump.

Water pumps used in Makswell devices can be controlled with a digital interface. In this way, the amount of water can be increased or decreased as desired on the screen with a single button. At the same time, in single sample analysis, the flow of empty channel water through the screen is blocked to prevent the solution from flowing to waste.

Makswell provides further innovation by positioning the water pumps in an independent section at the back of the device’s case. This design prevents water from flowing into the device in case of possible hose wear or tear. Additionally, the rear pumps can be easily intervened without having to open the case completely during hose replacement or pump adjustment. This reduces the risk of wear and corrosion during long-term use of the device. Thanks to this design, users can easily maintain and calibrate their devices.

The size of the solution waste collection containers was increased to 1000 cc capacity with mechanical changes made in Makswell devices. These containers, which are larger than the 500 cc capacity containers used in other manufacturers’ devices, provide practicality to the user by reducing the frequency of emptying the container after each test. In this way, it is possible to use the same containers for three tests with Makswell devices.

As a result, Makswell gluten washing devices not only meet the standards, but also raise food quality control standards by making this process more reliable and effective through innovation. Innovative solutions offer users the opportunity to achieve reliable results in gluten analysis by providing advantages in terms of time and cost.

3. Calibration in gluten washing devices

Depending on the frequency of use in gluten washing devices, calibration problems may arise over time. To obtain accurate and reliable results, it needs to be calibrated regularly every one or two years. In production standards, the distance between the separation screen and the kneading hook is determined as 0.7 mm; However, this distance may vary depending on the duration of use. Regular calibration becomes mandatory so that these changes do not affect the workflow and the device operates correctly. The 2 kg spring force applied to the gluten during analysis is also included in this calibration process. All gluten washing devices produced are offered to users with these settings in accordance with factory standards.

For other commercially available gluten washing devices, calibration processes usually require professional service and a complete opening of the device’s casing. This may lead to loss of time and high costs. However, the technology developed by Makswell eliminates the need for users to open the case to calibrate their devices. Users can easily perform calibration settings by turning the 2 screws on the outside of the device. Additionally, thanks to the calibration plates and user manual sent with the device, making these settings becomes a very fast and simple process. This user-friendly approach from Makswell makes using gluten washing devices easier, more efficient and more economical.

4. Quick fault detection

Detecting technical faults can often be a complex and time-consuming process, especially in complex industrial machines such as gluten washers. This can negatively affect the workflow of many factories. The time taken for a detailed examination by an expert and detection of the problem may cause disruptions in the production process. We aim to overcome these difficulties with the innovative fault detection feature in Makswell software.

The unique software feature allows problems with gluten washing devices to be detected quickly. This feature offers users the opportunity to test all units of their devices quickly and effectively. Critical components such as the motor, solenoids, pumps and sensors can be tested individually by users from the system settings and their performance evaluated. This feature quickly passes the fault detection process and allows direct intervention by the technical team, minimizing disruptions in the production process.

This innovative approach of Makswell offers a more proactive solution to fault detection and resolution processes in gluten washing devices. Thanks to rapid fault detection, production interruptions in factories are minimized, while maintenance costs are reduced and operating efficiency is increased. This provides a significant advantage for businesses looking for reliability and continuous availability in industrial production.

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