Spray drying innovation is leading to large efficiency gains

Spray drying

Spraying Systems Co. experts in spray technology, have introduced new spray drying technology, their PolarDry Electrostatic Spray Drying (ESD), to the food and beverage manufacturing industry.

Their new innovation promises to enable their customers to better retain the biological activity of heat and oxygen sensitive products after drying, compared to more traditional methods that use extreme heat.

Businesses across Australia already depend on spray technology from Spraying Systems Australia. Servatus in Queensland is the first to adopt the innovative electrostatic spray drying technology and techniques to help produce their micro biotherapeutics.

Fluid Air’s Applications Scientist, Dr Akm Masum, said “Fluid Air’s testing facility in Melbourne has advanced analytical capabilities to support our Australian and New Zealand customers and give the best possible solutions.” This includes a Fluid Air’s Electrostatic Spray Drier (PolarDry Model 001) for customer trials in our ISO 7 certified clean rooms.

“We can dry almost all liquid feed into powder form; however, our PolarDry technology is best suited to food and biological materials that are sensitive to heat and oxygen. Electrostatic spray drying use low drying temperatures (90-150°C inlet, 30-60°C outlet) as opposed to traditional high heat spray drying (150-250°C inlet, 70-110°C outlet),” said Masum.

“Lower drying temperatures during electrostatic spray drying causes less damage to the products that we make. This help to preserve the bioactivity of heat sensitive materials, such as microorganisms, proteins, bioactive materials, pharmaceuticals etc.

“Electrostatic spray drying occurs at inert gas environment where oxygen is replaced by nitrogen. This is achieved by using nitrogen from an external source. Whereas, in traditional high heat spray drying, hot air is used as a drying medium. Using nitrogen as a heating medium helps to retain the value of oxygen-sensitive materials, such as encapsulated oils, anaerobic microorganism, etc.,” he added.

“Nitrogen, being an inert gas, is less reactive, which helps, which helps preserve the properties ofoxygen-sensitive materials. This benefits ESD powders to maintain better oxidative stability in fresh and stored powders,” said Masum

Fluid Air’s testing centre is also flexible, depending on the specific needs of the client.

“It depends on the customer, if they have any specific testing requirement based on what we already have, we can fulfil that. In addition to drying the liquid feed into powder, we also can analyse the liquid feed before drying and the powder properties after drying,” said Masum.

“We have almost everything that we need for powder characteristics. For example, we can measure the moisture content, water activity and glass transition temperature of the powder” said Masum.

The company also has the capability to measure the surface morphology of the product using a scanning electron microscope.

“It’s amazing to see how the powder looks after drying, we have a microscope here to see the powders’ surface, from smooth, spherical, regular and agglomerate powder particle to an irregular, non-spherical and non-agglomerate powder. We can measure it with an amazing technology,” added Masum.

“We also can measure the particle size of powder particles  using a Mastersizer via laser diffraction technology. ”

Celio Furquim Queensland Sales Manager at Spraying Systems Australia, said due to the confidence in the technology, Spraying Systems was happy to offer some free testing to show the technologies capabilities.

“These machines cost a lot of money, so we are happy to work with our customers to ensure their business   benefitte before they commit to the purchase” he said.

“We take that time because we have confidence in our product. Efficiency gains is a massive benefit that we provide.

Furquim used a recent example to help clarify how the technology is most beneficial to the food and beverage manufacturing industry.

“A trial we did overseas a company that makes lemons into lemons lollies. They were drying the powder and normally at high temperature they would only get eight per cent of the lemon into the final confectionery product. When they did it with our product, they got about 70 per cent. he said.

“That’s the way to view the way this technology works.”

Masum went into some more detail about what exactly that means for manufacturers and producers.

“Normally with traditional high heat spray drying technology there is a reduction in bioactivity after drying of biological materials but in our electrostatic spray drying technology there is almost no loss after drying,” he said.

“Also, when we store our products for longer period, the bioactivity is maintained.”

In terms of food and beverage applications the biggest results have already been seen in high value dairy products and pharmaceuticals.

“Our technology is already in the market to some extent in ANZ, especially in Queensland. We are continuously working with the technology and the customers  to find the right applications of our technology,” said Masum.

Freeze drying is an effective drying method to preserve the bioactivity of heat sensitive materials, however, its limitations lie with the batch process and lesser throughput because of not being continuous.

“In addition to lower drying temperatures, PolarDry ESD technology is continuous, which means you can get your product within a short period of time instead of across three to four days with freeze drying. Our technology is also scalable,” said Masum.

Furquim said being scalable, with large and small machines, was another key benefit to the technology, allowing it to be applied in many levels.

“We are really looking at any products that needs to be freeze or heat dries to create powder.”

Spraying Systems Australia is also continuing to invest heavily in the research and development side of the new spray drying technology because its full capabilities are yet to be realised.

“We are getting academic papers in that are proving the further capabilities of the technology and we are still learning about what applications it can be applied to.

“For example, recently we were asked about honey so we started our research into that to find how it could be applied.”

A case study from Spraying Systems showed how a food company was using drilled pipe mounted above a conveyor to apply an antimicrobial agent to peppers.

The flow from the pipe was constant and only one side of the peppers was coated with the antimicrobial.

The company realised a more sophisticated approach to food safety was required and turned to Spraying Systems.

As a solution, Spraying systems help apply four AutoJet Food Safety Systems which improved food safety for the food company. The peppers are now protected from harmful pathogens due to full coverage and consistent application of the antimicrobial.

An additional benefit for the company is a dramatic 75 per cent reduction in antimicrobial use now that the application rate is precisely controlled by the system.

The reduced use of chemicals has lowered operating costs and advanced the company’s sustainability initiatives. The cost of the four systems was recouped in less than two years.

Furquim said its hoped that with the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic behind us, that companies will now be more willing to investigate, test, and ultimately purchase, the new technology which in turn can create efficiency gains for food and beverage manufacturers and producers.



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