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Changing sous vide, Żaneta Muranko

Product design engineer Zaneta developed a new approach to cooking sous vide, and uses her all-round skills to promote circular economy in her PhD

BSc Engineering Product Design graduate Zaneta Muranko became involved with the sous vide project during her time as an undergraduate and is now engaged in the commercialisation process. Working on her PhD supported by the Bond Group is providing her with valuable experience to help her realise her ambitions of becoming a circular economy champion.

Developing the sous vide over: a novel kitchen appliance

Sous vide is a method of cooking food in vacuum-sealed bags at low temperatures for long periods of time. Cooking food using the sous vide technique can produce exceptionally flavoursome and nutritious meals, has been adopted by high-end restaurants and is gradually breaking into the domestic market.

At present, sous vide cooking requires three different pieces of equipment: a vacuum sealer, a water bath and a blow-torch, to brown the surface of food and to create a roasting flavour and aroma.

“Our sous vide oven performs the three essential steps of sous vide cooking without any additional equipment; and uses air to cook sous vide, instead of water,” explains Zaneta. The product was developed by Zaneta and Dr Christopher Brock, Director of London Food Centre and Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Sciences, with the support of LSBU Enterprise.

Project involvement

Zaneta first began working on the sous vide oven as part of her Major Project in the final year of the BSc (Hons) Engineering Product Design Course at LSBU. She says she became involved because she viewed it as an exciting opportunity to further develop her engineering, entrepreneurial and research skills. The technology for the oven is now patented with a UK patent granted in 2017. The project is now in the process of commercialisation.

Continuing her work into postgraduate studies

Żaneta is currently in the final year of her doctoral studies in the School of Engineering. The title of her PhD research is Developing a Circular Economy by Changing Behaviour in the Retail Refrigeration Industry.

“The circular economy is an economic and industrial system in which resources are used for as long as possible, which typically involves businesses adopting a circular approach to the production and utilisation of products by implementing a range of alternative business models, such as remanufacture. Currently remanufacturing rates in the UK retail refrigeration industry are low. This is due to consumers in the industry not showing pro-circular behaviours, which often is a consequence of their unfamiliarity and possible scepticism of circular business models. If the industry was more positive towards remanufacturing there would be a greater demand for circular products, meaning producers would be more inclined to implement circular business models,” she says.

Impact of her award-winning work

Her PhD is supported by the Bond Group, a UK manufacturer and remanufacturer of retail refrigeration equipment. She is supervised by a cross-disciplinary team of academics from the fields of sustainable design and manufacture (Dr Deborah Andrews, School of Engineering), refrigeration (Dr Issa Chaer, School of the Built and Environment) and psychology (Dr Elizabeth Newton, School of Applied Sciences).

“During my PhD project I have developed a novel behaviour change model – the Pro-Circular Change Model – which is a conceptual framework that has potential to encourage the adoption of pro-circular behaviours in this and in many other industries.” She has also published several journal and conference papers. In 2016 she won the Best Paper Award at the Sustainable Innovation Conference. Her project was also shortlisted for an Environmental Collaboration Award in 2016 in the RAC Cooling Industry Awards.

Looking to the future

Zaneta says that her plans going forward are to engage in more work supporting the development of a circular economy: “My ultimate goal is to always prioritise resource efficiency and consider environmental and social impact in the work I do as a product design engineer. I will also continue to encourage others to do the same.”