Process-structure relationships of the wheat protein vital gluten

  • Contact:

    Prof. Dr. Katharina Scherf

  • Project Group:

    Nina Höller, M.Sc.

  • Funding:

    BMWK, AiF 21289 N

  • Partner:

    Technical University of Munich, TUM School of Life Sciences, Chair of Brewing and Beverage Technology, Research Group Cereal Technology and Process Engineering

  • Startdate:

    01 October 2020

  • Enddate:

    31 December 2023



So called “vital gluten” (VG) is dried and ground gluten, which is obtained as a byproduct of the industrial production of wheat starch. VG is what remains after washing out the starch from the flour. It is mainly used to alter and standardize the quality of products in the food industry. Because of the unique viscoelastic properties, VG becomes more important in the non-food sector, too, especially for cosmetics and use in adhesive or polymer blends. Since wheat cultivars of different qualities are used for the production of starch, the quality and functionality of VG is prone to variation. Variable washing conditions during its production have an impact on the structure and therefore on the physico-chemical properties of the gluten polymer. In addition, further processing steps (drying, grinding) influence the structure and functionality. The unknown relationship between washing, drying and grinding with the resulting VG properties hinder the targeted application of VG in the food industry and the use in polymer blends. The most important steps for VG production are the preparation of the wheat flour suspension, removal of the starch from the wet gluten matrix, drying and pulverization. Empirical experience shows that VG from different manufacturers and production sites have varying characteristics. However, systematic studies based on well-defined samples are not available to elucidate the influence of the individual process parameters on the structure and functionality of VG. Furthermore, the impact of post processing treatments on VG properties are unknown, so that a prediction of the resulting functionalities is not possible. Due to the increasing importance of VG in the food and non-food sector, this knowledge would be crucial, as it would allow a targeted modification of the structure and functionality to make VG suitable for a variety of application areas.