Why using a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system can decrease food waste
We are all aware that the current level of food waste cannot be sustained if we have a hope of reducing food poverty across the world. This is not just a Western issue; globally food is lost or wasted at different points in the supply chain. Today’s technologies, such as sterilization, can help reduce this spoilage. However, the strict compliance requirements will ask for continuous improvement of this technology. An analysis from the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations highlights some discrepancies;
• In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities.
• In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behavior of consumers plays an important role in industrialized countries.
So, where can we make a difference?
Looking at the graph of food losses below, and the statements above, we can see that it is worthwhile to invest in production techniques, potentially to increase the shelf life of packaged food. This would have a positive impact on the waste of food in developed countries.
One of the ways to improve these figures is to improve the sterilization of the packaging that food is placed in, to reduce spoilage and increase shelf life. This is the point where Controlled Evaporation Mixing (CEM) systems come in the picture.
Bronkhorst share in extension of the shelf life
Sterilisation of packaging to extend shelf life is not something new, it already has been done for years. I believe the first aseptic filling plant for milk was already presented in 1961. However, it is a technology which has been improved tremendously throughout the years and still is improving. Bronkhorst has an extended range of instruments which can support you in this process. An ingenious development in this area is a Controlled Evaporation and Mixing system (also called a CEM), as one compact solution for industrial processes such as sterilization. The compact solutions consist of various type of instruments, such as liquid and gas flow meters and an evaporator.
Using Controlled Evaporation Mixing (CEM) systems for sterilisation
The challenge given to Bronkhorst via a customer that was using a Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) mix (containing 35% of H2O2 and water) to decontaminate carton and plastic packaging for liquid and cream filling. Using a mix of H2O2 is an excellent way to do this, because it is great at killing bacteria and can be easily evaporated. Bronkhorst is an experienced supplier of this kind of solutions.
To get the best production with minimal waste you need to:
- Dose the correct amount of H2O2 mixture
- Too much and the final product is spoiled
- Too little and the residual bacteria is too high
- Avoid de-gassing of the H2O2 mix
- Have a controlled flow that condenses on the inside of the package
- Limit the flow. If it’s too high it will increase drying time at the end of sterilisation
The best result for this application was given by vapour generation combined with a Coriolis mass flow meter. Because H2O2 mixtures are not particularly stable this results in changing physical properties. Adding a Coriolis mass flow meter to the CEM made the measurement of mass flow medium properties independent. Furthermore as the Coriolis instrument is capable of measuring medium density, it can be used to monitor the concentration and thus watch over quality of H2O2.
Using a CEM system has some real advantages:
- Stable temperature of vapour
- Stable concentration of condensation because of a controlled dew point of the mixture
- All of the above is possible because the gas, liquid and mixing temperature are controlled
Benefits as perceived by the customer
- Stable liquid mass flow, even if physical properties vary
- Monitoring the concentration and quality of the H2O2
- Monitoring and traceability of the sterilisation process
- Mass flow control of liquid
- Mass flow control of gas
- Direct control of dew point through control of gas and air mixture
- Increased use-by-date
- Longer life of fresh food