Food and Beverage

In recent decades the food and beverage industry has undergone widespread changes from small to middle and large firms. The ensuing industrialisation of food processing has created many applications that use vacuum pumps and compressors.

The growing importance of convenience food and extended shelf life have also led to a sharp increase in vacuum and compressed air demand.

Bottle Filling Machines in Breweries

When beer is bottled, its residual oxygen content must be kept as low as possible. To this end, breweries employ two different methods, either alone or in combination. Bottles are flushed with CO2 and filled with beer via a long-tube filler. In this case, the filler tube is inserted into the bottle and the bottle is flushed with carbon dioxide before actually being filled with beer. This method consumes a relatively large amount of CO2. Bottles are evacuated and then flushed with CO2. This method greatly reduces carbon dioxide consumption because most of the oxygen is already extracted.

Bulk Transfer

Emco Wheaton & Todo designs, manufactures and supplies a broad range of solutions for the food and beverage industry. Products and sytems provided include Marine, Road and rail loading and unloading arms, Dry Break couplers and adapters, hydraulic couplers and break-away systems. Products meet the most stringent demands of the food industry.

Chocolate Production

During the production of chocolate eggs, vacuum is used in several production sections to hold the eggs in place and lift them up. The vacuum system is installed in a separate room and sucks the air-conditioned air from the production line. The vacuum of the machine is maintained at a constant pressure.

Coffee Making Machines

A Thomas compressor is used to force feed water through the coffee beans in a hopper during the percolating stage. This method of coffee making increases the flavour and strength of the beverage.

Compressed Air Applications

Seen as a safe and reliable source of power, modern food facilities rely on compressed air in their manufacturing processes. Often considered as the fourth utility, compressed air is present in all areas of food and beverage manufacture and process. Oil free compressors can be used in direct contact with product, or oil lubricated compressors can be used in packaging processes or to operate production machinery such as filling machines, pumps or the generation of other gases.

  • Packaging – compressed air can be used to generate vacuum used in the packaging process, air is also used in conveying systems to move food and ingredients
  • PET bottle blowing – high pressure oil free compressed air is fed into the bottle blower machine moulds where preforms are heated and the plastic is streched to form the bottle
  • Product handling – air hoists and cylinders are used to move products, at very high speeds able to keep up with modern production practices
  • Food filling machines – machines use compressed air to fill products such as cakes, pies, and liquid products
  • Fluid pumps – compressed air is generated to operate pumps such as diaphragm pumps to move liquid products in the production and filling process
  • Nitrogen generation – compressed air is filtered to produce nitrogen used for packaging
  • Air knives – air is used as a clean medium for cutting products. It is also used for example for peeling products such as fruit and onions

Dairy processing

On yoghurt filling machines the vacuum pump serves to position the lids on five pre-filled yoghurt containers simultaneously. Suction cups on the machine grip the lids, separate them and move them into the correct positions.

Deaeration of Mineral Water

Mineral water from natural springs contains carbonic acid, minerals and iron. The iron dissolved in the water oxidizes when it comes into contact with the air, giving the water an unpleasant taste. The water needs to be deferrized at a pressure of about 50 mbar, but first a vacuum pump is required to remove the carbonation and then reintroduce it to produce sparkling water.

Deodorizing of Salad Oils and Fats

Prolonged exposure to air gives salad oils and fats an unpleasant odour and flavour. Before they can be processed further, these oxidation products must be removed. This is accomplished by injecting steam, which absorbs the odour and flavour particles created, and then extracting the steam with a vacuum.

Drinks Dispensing

For private events and parties a mobile beer dispensing system is available. The units are composed out of a cooling system and a small Thomas compressor. A compressor is used to tap the beer. In some cases the compressor is combined with a pressure switch.

Evacuation

The packaging process has numerous requirements for vacuum pumps, as during evacuation of only air, but also water vapor, fat and spice mixtures are evacuated. Because of higher requirements for quality of food with regard to flavor, color, homogeneity and durability, meat processing uses more and more vacuum, too, e.g. in filling machines, tumblers and cutters.

Evaporators, Cookers & Vacuum Pans

Evaporators, cookers and vacuum pans are used to process unrefined food products into a concentrated form by boiling. In these processes, vacuum is used to lower the boiling temperature in order to improve the appearance and taste, shorten the cooking time, and reduce energy costs.

Filtration Units

Filtration units are used for filtering and cleaning liquids. The choice of the filtration membrane (nano-, ultra- or microfiltration) depends on the product requirements. Crossflow filtration, for example, involves re-circulation of the feed stream across the membrane surface caused by the pressure difference between retentate and permeate. During the filtration process, particles deposit on the membrane surface which are gradually removed by the cross flow velocity generated by the pump to minimise polarisation.

Food Preservation

Fruits, vegetables and their subsequent products, such as mash and purée, are preserved through cooking. This involves heating a small amount of water to generate steam which removes the air. To obtain a high product quality and energy efficiency, the preservation process is carried out under vacuum.

Fruit Processing Machines

To prevent fruit from maturing, they are stored in cooling chambers under so-called controlled atmosphere conditions: after having been exhausted, the cooling chamber is filled with inert gas. Alternatively, the inert gas is carefully compressed into the packaging.

Humidification of Tobacco

Tobacco packed in bales is so brittle that without proper humidification it would crumble into dust when processed further. A vacuum pump extracts the air from the bales and replaces it with steam, sometimes supplemented with aromatic substances.

Ice Cream Dispensing

These types of systems dispense soft serve ice cream at fast food restaurants, shopping malls, and mini-marts. Compressed air is required to move the ice cream into cones and cups.

Milking Systems

Milking cows by machine has become a standard procedure. The vacuum required to do the job can vary greatly depending on the number of cows to be milked. The entire milking procedure must be completed within two hours. In addition to transporting the milk, the vacuum used in these milking systems performs other tasks as well, such as attaching onto the udder and holding the weight of the milking claw assembly to the teat. The use of frequency converters can greatly improve the animals’ productivity because the gradual increase in vacuum is better tolerated.

Nitrogen Generation

Nitrogen generators produce nitrogen from compressed air supplied by a dedicated air compressor. The compressor is mounted at the beginning of the system and passes compressed air through sets of filters to remove the impurities before entering into the generator. The filtrated air then passes through another filter that eliminates oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules resulting in a high purity of hydrogen gas.

Poultry Processing

Even the weighing and portioning of foods produces waste products that must be disposed of quickly and automatically. A weigh station for chicken breast fillets, in which individual portions are transported by belt weighers and sorted into weight groups, produces liquid waste as well as fat and small fibers. A vacuum pump extracts this waste and passes it on for proper disposal.

Salmon Cleaning Machines

The food industry employs processes similar to those described above to automatically extract the entrails from salmon. Operating at a rate of only 3 seconds per fish, the quantity of material to be processed is enormous. The resulting waste products consisting of saltwater, fats, proteins and fish remains are extracted by means of a side channel blower located beside the salmon cleaning machine.

Sausage Production

To produce sausages a meat mixture is chopped into small pieces and mixed with spices and other additives. Extracting air during the chopping and mixing processes can help prevent the mixture from oxidizing, which would have a negative effect on the sausage's flavour and appearance. The air is evacuated by means of a vacuum of about 100 mbar. The pump used must be insensitive to the meat particles and liquids that are also extracted.

Sterilization of Tea and Spices

Tea and spices imported from tropical regions are shipped in bales, which very often contain pests, insects, fungi and bacteria that must be destroyed before further processing can occur. This is done by placing the bales in vacuum containers and extracting the air. The bales are then injected with steam or a sterilized gas.

Sugar Production

A mild acid extracts the saccharose from the sugar canes which is then cooked to produce sugar syrup. To reduce energy consumption, both cooking as well as the subsequent crystallization process are carried out under vacuum.

Systems for Cleaning Fish and Molluscs

Before any further processing can take place, fish and molluscs must be gutted and cleaned. Worktables are outfitted with suitable vacuum nozzles that extract the entrails from the fish. A central vacuum system then pipes the combination of liquid and coarse particles through a filter where they are separated for proper disposal.