High pressure carbon dioxide
The technology uses the carbon dioxide at high pressures to induce the reduction of the microbial load and the enzymatic inactivation in liquid foods, in particular fruit juices. It is, therefore, a process of stabilization as alternative to pasteurization. The treatment is able to perform the microbial inactivation in conditions of pressure, temperature and treatment times relatively bland avoiding the harmful effects that the temperature can cause to the food during the traditional heat treatments.
Treatment plants of liquid foods (fruit juices, milk, beer).
Principle of operation
The technique works through the contact of the carbon dioxide pumped into the food under certain conditions of pressure and temperature. The presence of carbon dioxide reduces the range of temperatures (20-40 °C) needed to obtain the microbial stabilization of the food. The microorganisms and the enzymes are inactivated with an efficiency that depends on the operating conditions and the characteristics of the food in which they are found.
The know-how of ProdAl includes the theoretical knowledge of the process, the availability of predictive models and previous studies of certain microorganisms and products, and the development of a laboratory-scale batch plant for the testing of different types of food. It is in the testing phase the coupling of this technique with other synergistic processes (such as pulsed electric fields).
Different foods for which the technique can be reasonably proposal were identified.
Technological benchmark vs state of the art
In Europe there is a good theoretical knowledge and plant engineering of this technique. At the global level, many studies have been dealt with on a wide range of fruit juices, on some products of the dairy industry and on liquid foods of limited consumption such as beer. The research has gone from the design of batch or continuous plants on laboratory scale to the design of continuous pilot plants.
The key feature of the technology is represented by the mild conditions of temperature applied which ensures a good shelf life of the food and the absence of traces of chemical compounds and unwanted thermal effects due to high temperatures. Significant advantages have already emerged compared to thermal treatments or more complex physical treatments and the possibility of application also to products of low added value.
- Effect of microbiological stabilization without the use of high temperatures.
- Simplicity of the process.
- Easy to control and regulation.
- Easy integration with other synergistic techniques.
- Low cost of processing and consequent applicability to products of not so high added value.
- Action limited to liquid foods.
- Achievement of sterilization conditions with the application of intense operating conditions.
- Inability to apply to solid products.
Stage of development of ProdAl
The technology is at a stage of development such as to be able to predict the transition to the design of a continuous plant. The prototyping and the subsequent industry technology transfer requires time and investments related to the design of technology in continuous but are relatively short due to the acquired knoledge.
ProdAl has developed its own know-how on the mechanism of microbial stabilization and conducted experimental work on the application to some food matrices (in the next figure is shown in orange the stage of development of ProdAl research in this technology).
Therefore, it is able to offer assistance in the development of new products and the determination of optimum operating conditions also through experimentation.
Of particular interest is the research of synergies between the high pressure carbon dioxide treatments and other mild technologies for microbiological stabilization.
Companies in the fruit and vegetable and canning sector.
Forms of collaboration
- Design of a continuous plant for the pasteurization of liquid food.
- Consulting for the evaluation of the quality and shelf life of new products as a function of treatment conditions.
- Consultations on the industrial exploitation of the technology with impact on research activities.