Complete use of Quinoa for surfactants, dietary aliments and fibrous material

Surfactants from the pericarp were isulated and used in personal-care products. The fruit is being processed to high quality diet nutrition for coeliacs and dietary supplement. Fibre material is being gained from the stems.

Short Description




The plant CHENOPODIUM QUINOA can be cultivated in Austria and enables the complete utilisation of this plant as a renewable resource. The fruitstand contains natural surfactants applicable in body and health care products which can be isolated using green chemistry methods. From the fruit itself, dietary foodstuff for patients suffering from celiac disease or gluten intolerance can be obtained. In addition, extraction of highly valuable nutrition additives is feasible. The stem contains cellulose fibres for a wide variety of utilizations, e.g. insulation materials. Aim of the project is to develop the complete exploitation of all these plant parts for high added value products in pilot-scale.

The emphasis in research is laid on the extraction and utilisation of Saponins from the fruitstands, which can be applied as a natural surfactant and emulsifier. Not only the fruitstands, but also the fruit itself can be used as a special dietary aliment, which is an additional benefit for the integral utilisation of Quinoa. In spite of the value as high quality foodstuff and additive for gluten-free products, the use of Quinoa is still poorly established in Austria. In order to accelerate the utilisation, demonstrator products were developed in cooperation with the project partners (mills, manufacturers of bakery products, soft drinks and nutritional supplements). Depending on the demands of the partners, different primary products (seedlings, flour, extract) were utilized and the appropriate production processes had to be developed. The exploitation chain for the whole plant had to be established, e.g. the cellulose-containing stems can be used as insulation material or as additive in fibre-reinforced plastics.

The laboratory extraction process of the Saponins was successfully scaled up to technical production requirements. Using the gained Saponin fractions, methods for quality control were evaluated and first cosmetic formulations are produced and tested. The empirical tests of the seed peeling and milling, as well as the resulting demonstrator products for dietary aliments and nutritional supplements show that the product quality is fundamentally dependent on the degree of desaponification of the primary products.

As an additional way of Quinoa utilisation in the food sector, the obtained extract from the seedlings can be used as primary product in soft drink manufacture.

The planned research activities in this project were concentrated on the optimisation of the different production processes for high added value products utilising the fruitstands (surfactants) and seeds (flour, extracts) of Quinoa.

At the end of the project, a complete exploitation chain was set up for all Quinoa raw materials and products. This commercialisation chain includes the production of Quinoa in bio-dynamic agriculture, the trader of seeds, the mill and other processing suppliers, and finally the manufacturers of the end products in the food (bakery products, soft drinks, nutritional supplements) and non-food sector (cosmetics, emulsifiers).

Project Partners

Project management

Prof. Dr. Volker Ribitsch
JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
MATERIALS - Institut für Oberflächentechnologien und Photonik

Project collaborator

  • Birgit Pointner, Martin Reischl
    MATERIALS - Institut für Oberflächentechnologien und Photonik
    JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
  • Herbert Böchzelt, Angela Thaller, Susanne Wagner
    RESOURCES - Institut für Wasser, Energie und Nachhaltigkeit
    JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
  • Karin Stana-Kleinschek, Madja Sfiligoj Smole
    Institute of Engineering Materials and Design, University of Maribor
  • Michael Narodoslawsky, Karl-Heinz Kettl
    Institut für Prozess- und Partikeltechnik, TU Graz
  • Waltraud Hein
    Institut für Biologische Landwirtschaft und Biodiversität der Nutztiere, Abteilung für Biologischen Ackerbau, HBLFA Raumberg-Gumpenstein
  • Jörg Moser
    Infood GmbH
  • Johanna Winkler
    Saatzucht Gleisdorf
  • Werner Pfannhauser
    Analytikum GmbH, Labor für Lebensmitteluntersuchung
  • Anton Rosnak
    Biohof Rosnak

Project or cooperation partner

  • Franz Seidl
    Steirerkraft Naturprodukte GmbH
  • Johann Pfeiffer
    E-Werk Stubenberg ReggenmbH –Mühle Stubenberg
  • Dieter Gall
    GPH Produktions GmbH
  • Maria Pieper
    Pieper Naturkosmetik Manufaktur
  • Herbert Haan
    Bender Iglauer Backwaren GmbH
  • Ulrich Hirschhofer
    Bio-Anlagen GmbH

Contact Address

JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Volker Ribitsch
Steyrergasse 17
8010 Graz
Tel.: +43 (316) 876-0
Fax: +43 (316) 876-1181