Evaluating Heat Processing in the Lab
"We were not quite sure if we could develop a laboratory system capable of heating by both di-rect and indirect steam injection, but we knew there definitely was a need for such a system," says David Miles, v.p., MicroThermics Inc., Raleigh, N.C. "Nevertheless, when we put our minds to it, as the saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way. And, in fact, we did design the first Direct/Indirect Processor (DIP) earlier this year, and have been making more ever since."
The DIP system combines direct and indirect steam injection processing with vacuum cooling into one machine. The capabilities of this system include HTST and UHT pasteurization, along with aseptic and ESL (extended shelflife) processing. The system can process a variety of liquid and viscous products including milk, flavored dairy drinks, nutritional supplements, ice cream mix, juice concen-trates, fruits juices and drinks, tea, coffee, pudding, cheese sauce and more.
"With the DIP laboratory system, product developers and process engineers can evaluate the ef-fects of both direct and indirect heating on product quality and fouling," says Miles.
Bill Shazer, dir. of laboratory services, Continental Custom Industries (CCI), West Chicago, Ill., says, "We purchased a DIP laboratory system in order to offer our customers all processing options when assisting them with product development. We want to be able to simulate any process our cus-tomers come to us with. We can with the DIP system. This has made CCI more valuable to its dairy cli-entele."
Prior to acquiring the DIP system, CCI only had indirect UHT processing capabilities in house. Whenever they needed to evaluate product with direct heat, it was necessary to schedule time at an equipment supplier's lab. "This cost money, took time and prevented us from turning samples around quickly for our customers," says Shazer. "With the DIP system, we turn samples around within a week.
"We no longer need to schedule production runs," he continues. "The DIP system operates daily and has a very quick clean up of about an hour, as opposed to our old indirect system that took three to four hours."
The DIP system uses two styles of heating (direct and indirect), two variable-speed product pumps, a uniquely designed central connection panel and a hold-tube bank to provide unparalleled flexibility.
"It's also very nice and compact," concludes Shazer. At 72 inches high and 70 inches long, the DIP laboratory system can be rolled through a standard doorway.
"What's really great is that the DIP system works smoothly with any of our other options in-cluding electric steam generators, in-line homogenization and ultra-clean filling," concludes Miles.