Ongoing growth of the world’s population and rising personal income – especially in threshold countries – have led to increasingly greater demands for fresh and pro-cessed food and beverages. This development has resulted, in turn, in rising demand for the required process technology. One of the most important megatrends of rele-vance here is unabated urbanization. Today, more than half the world’s population lives in a town or city. The United Nations has assumed that by 2050 urban dwellers will represent more than two-thirds of the earth’s population – but on the basis of nine, and not currently seven billion people. Processed food and beverages, packed to satisfactorily suit the needs of consumers and provided by name-brand manufactur-ers, are now just as much in demand as are fresh products – especially among urban consumers. GEA is working at the key technological points along the product’s way to its consumers.
Vegetables, fruit, and other freshly harvested products must arrive at the consumer in fresh and crisp condition, regardless of the distance of their transport. Cooling is essential, but does not suffice alone: in addition, loss of liquid and vitamins must be effectively prevented. Finned tube heat exchangers from GEA set standards with respect to energy efficiency, air throw, and efficiency. These are critical aspects for facilities operators, since food distribution centers, warehouses, production halls, and supermarkets require tremendous cooling duty. GEA engineers are at work without interruption on the sustainability of their products – by optimized finned-tube design for lower pressure loss and low energy consumption of the fans, by longer defrost intervals, and simply with installation and service friendliness. Hygiene and corrosion resistance are assured by effective selection of materials and coatings – in slaughterhouse operations, fish processing, farmers’-market halls, and the catering stands in athletic stadiums.
One of the most essential factors in fresh food and beverages is their shelf lives. Since mi-croorganisms cause the spoilage of food, pasteurization of milk and other dairy products is the method of choice to extend their shelf lives. During pasteurization, these products are heated, with this process followed by immediate cooling. Other beverages such as wine, fruit juice, and beer are often likewise pasteurized, or are manufactured from pasteurized constit-uents. Brief heating in combination with pasteurization can extend the shelf life of acidic products with low pH, so that cooling during storage is not necessary. This group of foods and beverages includes many kinds of fruit and vegetable juices and preserves, as well as lemonade and energy drinks. Plate heat exchangers by GEA are outstandingly suited for such gentle processing.
The greatest advantages of plate heat exchangers are their flexibility and their cost effective-ness. In addition to pasteurization equipment, these systems are used everywhere in the food and beverage industry when products must be chilled, pre-heated, or heated: e.g., in brewing, in production of juices and cooking oils, in the sugar industry, and in the catering sector. GEA offers for the customer’s selection an effective heat exchanger for virtually any process. GEA has additionally developed a leak test procedure that checks the tightness of heat exchangers in very little time.
In sensitive areas, GEA air filters also assure microbiologically pure supply of air.
Brazed or welded plate heat exchangers are used for heating vapor or media for cleaning and disinfection purposes. These systems are designed for high operational pressures. For steam power systems, GEA also offers its shell and tube heat exchangers.
The food and beverage industry requires air with stringent hygienic conditions: often, with effective cooling to enable optimal processing of easily perishable goods. One good example is in meat processing factories: air treatment units from GEA cool production rooms down to around 0 °C, in order that cuts of meat can be freshly packed. This cooling destroys microor-ganisms in the air supply, providing additional benefits in productivity and shelf life. Thanks to the reduction in microorganism concentration, wet cleaning of the production lines is no longer so often required, and machine up time increases by as much as 20 %.
In some food processes – for example, fish processing and cheese manufacture – dehumidi-fication of the air is absolutely essential. In saline baths used in cheese dairies, the technology and competence gained by GEA in climate control of indoor swimming pools inhibits the formation of mold and protects buildings from moisture damage.
GEA finned-tube heat exchangers are used when products must be dried – primarily in the manufacture of powder or granule products. Examples in the beverage industry include pow-dered milk, instant coffee, and instant tea products. GEA air filters assure pure air here: for example, in the production of salt, sugar, and spices.
Aquaculture is the controlled farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, crabs, and algae. Owing to the depletion of fish in the oceans, aquaculture is becoming increasingly important. Large shares of aquaculture facilities are currently being operated with closed-cycle water circuits, to maintain a maximum of independence from environmental influences and from great consumption of water. GEA products provide highly efficient treatment of this water.
Most production processes in the food and beverage industries require and consume water. For the treatment of drinking water and sewage, GEA offers solutions for sedimentation pro-cesses, i.e. for the removal of solids from water. GEA fixed bed systems like trickling filters and hybrid reactors or moving beds are used in biological waste water treatment.
Fresh, crispy fruit and vegetables, long-lasting and yet nutritious foods, as well as a generous selection for more and more people – GEA technology plays a key role in meeting these challenges on the way to the consumer.