Cut up to 60% off food processing energy use

Wednesday, 14 July, 2010

A combination of alternative energy and computational modelling has cut energy requirements by 60% in some areas of food processing.

Developed for the prune industry by the CSIRO in collaboration with Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) and the Australian Prune Industry Association, the methodology can be applied across many food processing operations.

Prune Industry Advisory Committee Chair Malcolm Taylor said reducing the cost of the prune dehydration process was of major interest.

“We were very interested in working with HAL and CSIRO to improve the cost efficiency of dehydration, as it is a major proportion of total production costs,” Taylor said.

“Through this research, we expect companies will see major savings in energy, money and greenhouse gas emissions as well as increases in throughput.”

CSIRO’s Dr Henry Sabarez said that, through experimental investigations at laboratory and commercial scale, assessment of operational practices plus computer modelling of dehydration tunnel design and performance, significant increases in energy efficiency and throughput had been made.

“In addition, further energy savings are likely, with retrofitting of both heat-recovery and solar-based heating systems in existing dehydrators,” Dr Sabarez said.

“Working with the prune industry has shown the real bottom-line benefits that are possible from this approach. Other parts of the food processing industry, and indeed other processing industries, will also benefit.”

This project was funded by HAL using the dried prune levy and matched funds from the federal government.

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