/ Future / Technology
Technology for the New Millennium
technologies have been developed at CINVESTAV, Queretaro,
including a continuous process and the prototype of a machine
for producing tortillas and instant corn flour. This machine
is a combination low-shearing extruder and infrared (IR) oven
(U.S. Patent Nos. 5,532,013, 5,567,459, and 5,533,532; registered
Mexican Patent Nos. 936,344, 936338, and 936,330). It can
turn raw corn into tortillas in a matter of minutes, while
the traditional commercial process takes 8 to 18 hours. This
new machine is also energy efficient, does not waste water,
produces no polluting liquid waste, and makes more nutritious
tortillas. This prototype can use new kinds of ovens operating
with non-conventional energy, such as low frequency radiation,
infrared or microwave energy, to dry the masa or cook the
tortillas. We hope that an optimized version of this machine
will be in commercial use by the year 2015, when the natural
gas presently used for tortilla production will either not
be available, or will only be available at very high prices.
The prototype with an infrared oven will be an important alternative
to cooking with natural gas in the future.
next step in the evolution of this electrical machine
will be to replace the extruder with an ohmic cooker.
Ohmic cooking is a new system using non-conventional energy
in which an electric current is passed through the food
until it is cooked to the degree desired. One of the advantages
of this cooking method, compared to others that have been
mentioned here, is this precise control over how much
the food is cooked. Virtually any heating profile can
be programmed, monitored, and precisely controlled with
the use of a computer.