Chris Little, director at HRS Heat Exchangers talks to Food and Beverage Industry News on how HRS’s heat exchange technology is being applied to, and improving, the remelting of frozen juices.
Food waste is an issue that has yet to be solved, but there are companies that are working towards reducing the inefficiencies that cause up to seven million tonnes of food to be thrown out every year – that equates to approximately $20 billion.
HRS Heat Exchangers is a company that specialises in heat transfer products and has now extended the application of their technology into the industry of melting juice. The newly developed I Series works to improve the cold chain for frozen juice through a two-step process.
Unlike fruit concentrate, which has the ability to be delivered in bulk containers, fruit juice not derived from concentrate is usually delivered in a frozen form.
“The best way to store this type of product in order to maintain the quality, is to freeze it. Freezing is one of the best preservatives rather than adding anything else; it keeps it fresh,” said company director Chris Little.
While freezing the juice maintains the quality and freshness of the product, it can be difficult to heat back into a liquid form without spoiling, creating food waste and increasing overhead costs.
“From our perspective, it is about giving our clients the ability to do that, reliably, while maintaining the best quality of product, when it’s reprocessed from frozen to fresh again,” said Little.
“To deliver the fruit juice as a liquid requires the process to keep it as close to 0˚Celsius as possible and as quickly as possible,” said Little. “Our technology, and the efficiency that it brings to the process, allows the smallest hold up volume, minimum losses and most gentle treatment of the product to maintain that high degree of quality.”
The frozen product is often delivered in 200L drums, which then needs to be broken down to a form suitable for repackaging and selling. This is where the HRS I Series comes in. Made up of the IC and IM Series, the first part of the process sees the frozen juice being crushed into a manageable, ice slush condition. The latter part, the IM Series, focuses on remelting the frozen slush so it can be packaged and processed further.
While the crushing technology used in the IC Series has around for a while, it is the combination of HRS’s advanced heating technology in the IM Series that is changing the efficiency and effectiveness in which frozen juice can be returned to its liquid format.
“Our main contribution to this overall process is the thermal treatment,” said Little. “What we saw is an opportunity to improve that existing technology. We work on its design and its configuration and feasibility to increase its reliability and integrated all of that into a thermal process, a process in which we are specialists.”
At the IM stage, heating is applied through HRS’s own developed tubular heat exchanger technology including both the DTA double tube and HRS MI Multitube heat exchangers. This combination of technology allows both larger and smaller chunks of the frozen slush to be melted at an even, optimal rate.
“Our heat exchangers are designed in order to optimise the remelting process with the minimum hold up volume, which then correlates back to the rate of the speed in which its processed, therefore its exposed to heat for a very short amount of time,” said Little.
The temperature of the juice can be raised to around 4˚C in 90 seconds.
“We also work with warm water as the energy source for the remelting process, in order to better control things and maintain the highest quality product,” added Little.
Due to the quick nature of the process, the series is more energy efficient and requires less pumping power. The tubing is also designed in a corrugated fashion so that there is less ‘sticking’ to the wall resulting in less corrosion and less downtime required for maintenance.
From there, once the remelting process is complete, HRS also supplies unique tanks of all sizes where the juice is pumped with consideration for food hygiene and safety as well as stopping all cross contamination.
HRS designed the series in response to the demand it saw from its clients.
“This technology is going to give our clients a reliable back up or a buffer if there is too much product to process in one season, or if there is a drought and they want to stockpile it for next season,” said Little. “It gives them the flexibility to be able to maintain their production output without compromising their quality in a reliable and efficient manner.”
Unless products have been imported from overseas, juices and other drinkable perishables are usually stored as frozen products. In this sense, HRS’s technology has the ability to improve juice transport on a global scale.
“We can now provide the combined solution to the client where this crushing and melting requirement exists,” said Little. “A lot of our clients could benefit knowing there is a technology there that is reliable, efficient and cost effective.”
Through understanding their clients’ needs, HRS was able to create a new integrated technology that is reliable and can rise to meet future demands that aren’t reliant on seasonal factors, reducing waste on a large scale.