Efficiency Key as Juice Producers Squeezed
Orange juice remains one of the most popular soft drinks around the world, but challenging weather conditions in 2021 and 2022 in the world’s major production regions of Brazil and Florida respectively mean that the supply chain faces record raw material costs. As a result, producers will need to focus more than ever on production efficiencies in order to maximise margins.
Markets are nervous, with orange juice futures matching historical highs in New York at the end of 2022 with increases of 50% or more compared to the previous year. Orange juice producers face an equivalent increase in raw material costs. Add this to the global energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which saw energy prices rise, and producers are in the front line of food inflation.
Therefore, manufacturers must make every effort to maximise the efficiency of processes such as remelting and pasteurisation. At the same time, they need to maintain the key quality characteristics of the juice, even though chemical changes begin as soon as the juice is squeezed.
HRS Heat Exchangers produce a range of highly energy efficient equipment for orange juice processing.
Thermal treatment, sometimes known as ‘flash pasteurisation’ is the preferred technique for making premium juice. The HRS MI and MR Series of pasteurisers use food-grade, multi-tube, corrugated heat exchangers to speed up the heat transfer in pasteurisation systems. These corrugated tubes create extra turbulence in the fluid as it flows through the tubes.
This extra turbulence means that the orange juice can be heated up to pasteurisation temperature much faster – typically by up to 30%. Because of the high heat transfer rates of the corrugated tube technique, HRS’s pasteurisation systems use water at a lower temperature to reduce the risk of product damage. Another benefit of higher heat transfer rates is that the system footprint can be reduced by using shorter heat exchanger pipes. The shorter length of the heat exchanger also results in a reduction in pressure drop, which saves pumping power and further reduces energy costs – often by 40%.
One issue with flash pasteurisation is that it still takes time to evenly heat the product, adding to the total processing time and increasing the risk of adversely altering the product’s organoleptic properties. In contrast, ohmic heating, which uses electricity to heat the product rapidly and uniformly, has been scientifically shown to be highly effective while maintaining flavours and quality.
The HRS ohmic system works by passing electricity between two electrodes in the product in a 1m ceramic tube, so the electricity has to pass through the product. The result is that the juice is heated up to 105 °C within one second. It is then held at this temperature for four seconds before being cooled. Ohmic technology itself is not new, but the HRS system uses the latest electronics to ensure that the temperature curve is very smooth, which not only helps to preserve product quality but also improves process efficiency.
RAW MATERIAL HANDLING
The HRS I Series offers options to de-pack and crush (the IC Series) then melt (IM Series) frozen fruit juice (a process also sometimes known as re-melting) ready for storage or further processing. The IC Series features a roller conveyor which feeds individual drums into a tipper that empties them into the crusher. Here, a specially designed spiked roller crushes the solid ice into an icy slush, which is then transferred to the IM Series re-melting device.
Based on the tubular heat exchanger technology for which HRS is renowned, the IM Series raises the temperature of the juice from frozen to around 4°C in 90 seconds. From here, the cold liquid juice can be pumped to a holding tank, or straight into the next process step.