'Baking with sound' research receives government funding

Dr Carmen Torres-Sánchez from Heriot-Watt with Ashley Baker, Head of Research and Development at Macphie

Using sound waves in the food industry

Heriot-Watt University is part of a research and industrial consortium group which has secured £500,000 funding from the UK government to investigate the use of sound waves in the food industry.

The Technology Strategy Board has provided £7 million to more than fifty research projects and studies aimed at developing healthier, safer and more nutritious food. The project 'Baking with Sound' is one of the projects selected for support.

The project will be led by food ingredient manufacturer, Macphie of Glenbervie, and in addition to Heriot-Watt, includes Piezo Composite Transducers, Mono Bakery Equipment and Fosters Bakery.


The project will develop and commercialise a patented cutting-edge novel technology that uses ultrasound to improve the quality and nutritional value of bakery products, as well as making their production more energy efficient. The technology has been covered in a joint patent application between Macphie and Heriot-Watt University, led by Dr Carmen Torres-Sánchez from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Improving quality

The consortium's overall vision is to introduce a new platform technology that aids the bakery products supply chain so they can improve the end-quality of foodstuffs in existing production lines. This project exploits the use of ultrasound in an innovative way to control the physical and processing aspects of 'free-from' products.

Gluten-free and reduced salt bakery products are large, rapidly growing sectors within the food market driven by consumer health trends. Due to the important role of gluten and salt in product processing and end quality, these products are more difficult to manufacture and often have poorer product quality, leading to a lack of consumer acceptance.

This project will apply the use of ultrasound in a innovative and unique way to control the physical, organoleptic and processing aspects of bakery products, focussing on gluten-free and reduced salt products. The physical properties and thus organoleptics of bakery products made from doughs and batters are critically determined by formation of cell structure within these foods during the manufacturing process. Ultrasound sonication can control cell structure in these products and thus their finished product quality, as well as easing their processing in terms of making it more energy efficient and reducing waste.