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Seligman winner Pierre Akely's visit to the UK

Prof Niranjan and Pierre Akely

Pierre Akely outlines his work on the Mechanical Pressing of Fermented Cassava Paste During Attieke Processing

Every year, the Seligman APV Trust invites recent graduates and postgraduates or equivalent to study in one or more of the UK’s renowned centres of food engineering teaching and research.

Pierre Akely writes: In 2008, the Seligman Trust gave me the opportunity to research at the University of Reading under the supervision of Prof K Niranjan on the Mechanical Pressing of Fermented Cassava Paste During Attieke Processing from 20 July - 20 December 2008. During my stay I visited relevant industries and made friends with a number of people working in Food Engineering.

I feel honoured to have had this excellent opportunity especially since I am the first Ivorian recipient of this award, and on behalf of my country I would like to express my gratitude to the Management Committee of the Seligman Trust.

Research Project

The aim of the study was the standardisation of the dewatering step of fermented cassava paste during attieke processing (attieke is a starch food staple eaten in Cote d'Ivoire) to optimise cassava pastephysicochemical and sensory qualities. In the dewatering tests the effect of the viscosity of paste, the compressibility and the optimal compression force on the extent of water removal was investigated for a range of fermented paste conditions and paste loading.

Three lots of paste,  500, 1000 and 1500g, fermented using inoculums at levels corresponding to 8, 10 and 12% each were dewatered using a pneumatic press. The pressure required to reduce the moisture content from an initial value of around 70% to 52% - the moisture content at which the paste can be ideally use for further processing – was found to be critically dependent on the inoculums level, concentration (10%) and the mass of the paste taken. A relationship was cassava pasteestablished between the pressure applied and the volume of water expelled from the pulp to bring the moisture content down from 70% to 52%, and an empirical model was developed to link the optimal compression force necessary for expelling this water with paste properties and loading. This model provides for optimisation of the attieke process by controlling the pressing step which greatly influences attieke quality.

The pictures show a) 60% and b) 50% moisture content. b) ESEM micrographs of fermented cassava paste (10% inoculum). The closely packed starch granules are evident in (b).


An additional programme of visits to universities and research institutions in UK was arranged by the Chairman of the Trust Management Group, Mr Graham Byars (listed below). These fruitful visits were wonderfully organised by Miss Monica Iglesias, Award Co-ordinator of the Society of Chemical Industry.

  1. Department of Chemical Engineering, Cambridge University, UK; Host: Dr Ian Wilson
  2. Invensys APV, Crawley: Had meetings with the following: Christian Feitz, UK project and Engineering Manager; Hugh Adkins / project Engineer Principals of Hygienic Design; Richard Guest / Installation Manager Tour of PHE Refurbishment Centre and Workshop; Bill Kirkland/ APV Global Automation Director Global Automation Standards
  3. PM Group, Rugby: Host: Simon Kiener, Director Project Management Specialities, Food engineering / factory design
  4. Department of Chemical Engineering, Loughborough University; Host: Dr. Andrew Stapley.
  5. Campden BRI, CCFRA Microbiology training course, Chipping Campden, UK

    Also visited:

  6. Coventry University
  7. Oxford University

I found my collaboration with Professor Keshavan Niranjan at the University of Reading very fruitful regarding the principle and application of thermodynamics processes directly linked to my work. And I took advantage of academic services to enhance my background.

The Award was an excellent opportunity and has strengthened my knowledge not only in food engineering but also in food Microbiology. The certificate received after attending the course at Campden BRI will be particularly useful.

I had the opportunity to network with a number of researchers and PhD students as well as previous award winners (Jatindra K Sahu through emails and Nara Cardoso). The contacts I established will assist in future collaborations at an international level.

I’m returning to the Ivory Coast with enriched knowledge and experience, and have made contacts with a number of scientists working in various Universities and Institutes, which, I am sure, will prove to be helpful in future.


I would like to thank the charitable funds of SCI in honour of its founder Richard Seligman (1878-1972), Seligman APV Trust, its management committee for managing the whole fellowship.

Special thanks go to Mr Andrew Ladds, Chief Executive; Mr Graham Byars, Seligman APV Trust Chairman; Miss Monica Iglesias, Awards Co-ordinator, SCI, for their comprehensive care and personal attention.

I am also grateful to Professor Keshavan Niranjan, of the University of Reading, who has supported and encouraged me during my work, as well as his secretary Miss Yvonne Harewood for her help.

Finally my thanks to all those who made my external visits to different universities and Institutes so very enjoyable.

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