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.Green Things

Sustainable Biogas in Meat Processing

This Australian article shows the state of the art in biogas recovery and consumption.

While biogas has been around and used for centuries, this plant focusses on increasing the sustainability by controlling the anaerobic digesting more efficiently and managing the gas storage and consumption.

The “Green Energy Orb” is just a methane storage tank, but then greenwashing is allowed! 

Spectacular green energy orb to deliver sustainable profits to beef processor FoodProcessing

click the image to view the paper

Savings Through Reducing Pasteurisation Temperature

This is a video published by Tetra Pak, that describes research they undertook to establish whether the standard fruit juice pasteurisation conditions could be reduced to save energy while still guaranteeing shelflife and avoiding product “damage”.

They found that, for orange juice, the second pasteurisation could be reduced from 95C for 15 seconds to 80C. This reduces cost of energy for orange juice filling at 22 000 l/h over 500 shifts a year by 19% and carbon footprint by 20%.

They also found that the across plate temperature difference could be increased from 5 to 20C. This would have significant impact on the heat transfer surface required and hence the capital cost of the pasteuriser.

The Gelatin Bump Label – Food Safety Labeling

A new label is set to make a contribution towards reducing the terrifying food loss which is estimated to be one third of what is produced.

The Gelatin Bump Label will give consumers a much more realistic view of the safely of food in the kitchen.

click the image to read the full story

The label works by mimicking the deterioration process with gelatin filled label. The gelatin characteristics and concentration ensure that the gelatin this in parallel with the food leading to the gelatin liquifying at the same time as the food becomes unusable.

Improved measurement of when food is no longer fit for consumption will in turn reduce the amount of usable food that is currently discarded because the consumer is not sure of its state and safety.

This is an ingenious device and along with temperature logging systems that can give a dynamic measure of remaining shelf life during the life cycle of the product and other ingenious measuring and monitoring devices could have a major impact on waste which should in turn reduce costs.

The only losers should be the Freegans whose food supplies will be reduced!

The video features the inventor of the lable explaining the device.

click the image to see the video

This turned out to be an interesting story and was reporting widely. Googling Gelatin Bump Label will introduce you to a range of articles many of which are very good sources.

Should Sun Drying be Rejected as a Food Unit Operation

Papers describing food drying techniques normally list the obvious contamination risks of drying in the open air as a major disadvantage and and based on this dismiss its application. However, the large volumes of food that are sun dried every year and the savings in energy and capital bely this quickly reached conclusion.

Searching the literature and regulations doesn’t give any guidance on the advisability of establishing a new sun drying business.

However, the two videos below show the large scale use of sun drying and the associated technologies applied at Cecilia’s Farm, near Prince Alfred in South Africa.

It seems that the critical point about the sun dried business they run, is that all fruit is washed before further processing and or packaging. Arguably this makes it comparable to fruit which is often not peeled, packaged salad and leafy vegetables. These are grown in the same environment and simply washed before eating.

The massive advantage of sun and to a lesser extent solar drying is that they produce shelf stable foods with minimal environmental impact and low processing and packaging costs.

Commercialising Cactus Pears – Free Online Information

If your community has large areas of cultivated cactus pears or if it is a good climate for cactus pears but little is grown, this manual could be of real value to you.

Commercialising Cactus Pears - Free Online Information

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This 150 page manual with 13 pages of reference, will surely give you all you need to know about the utilisation of cactus pear. You can then build your business by integrating this information with you knowledge of your community using you entrepreneurial skills.

A quick scan through the chapters of the manual illustrates the breadth and detail of the information.

Chapters of   /http://www.fao.org/docrep/019/a0534e/a0534e.pdfCommercialising Cactus Pears

The manual is available for free download, however, if you have problems please email me and I will make sure you get a copy.

New Milk Processing Technology For Rural Small Scale Farmers

Small scale farmers in rural areas with a a few cows can easily produce more milk than their family consumes, opening the opportunity to earn income by selling milk. However climate, lack of reliable energy and long distances make this an unreliable business. Introducing standard fresh milk handling technology does not work because of the costs are too high, the quantities too low and energy too unreliable. Other solutions such as increasing shelf life with fermented products and introducing the Lactoperoxidase System have there place but there is real demand for fresh milk.

This new system being introduced by Promethean Power could change this.

Chilling Milk Directly From the Cow for India s Dairy Farmers Modern Farmer

click the image to open an online story

This is a mechanically simple system that is powered by local electrical supply which does not need to be consistent or reliable. Whenever electricity is available it is used to “charge” a thermal storage system, the system is then used to cool milk whenever it is available.

The thermal storage system consists of a cylindrical stainless steel tank, containing an unspecified phase change chemical in a heat transfer fluid. When electricity is available it is used to refrigerate the tank, freezing the chemical which absorbs large quantities of energy as it changes phase.

The simplicity of the system lies in the design of what they have termed the Rapid Milk Chiller. The milk is distributed on the top of the stainless steel tank, it flows over the total surface of the tank and is thereby cooled quickly. With gravity transferring the milk there are no pumps, pipes and controls which would complicate maintenance, be difficult to clean and require electricity.

There is also the potential to use any other alternative energy source e.g. solar, wind, biogas and biomass which can be converted into electricity.  

I like the idea and look forward to hearing about how it works out in practice.

Tetrapak Juice Pasteurisation – Never too Experienced to Learn

I was amazed to find this technical note on Tetrapak’s website.


Www tetrapak com DocumentBank White paper Optimized Pasteurization pdf

click the image to open the note

Since I first heard of Tetrapak in the 1970s I always saw them as highly technology and science focused and the leaders in liquid food processing. I and many others  accepted their process design parameters without question. Now after all these years Tetrapak has the foresight and courage to question whether what has become normal practice is really the best solution.

They apparently asked three questions can the heat load in pre-filling pasteurisation be decreased, will a lower pasteurisation temperature result in product change and can a larger design temperature difference be used.

This interesting paper seems to answer positively in all respects and reports a 1.3 kg per 1000l carbon footprint saving which indicated we will be seeing changes in our plants.

Do Germans Spend 20 Times More Than Chadians on Food?

Hungry Planet, a recent book by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio, presents the food consumption of households around the world. The results are presented in the form of a picture of the family and the food they ate in a week, just like this German family.

click the image to visit the website

In each case the total cost of the food is given (in this case $500) as well as demographics of the country and some information on favorite foods. Besides just being interesting and revealing eg this German Family drinks 4 bottles of wine in the week while the French family appears to drink only one, it gives a view of food culture an food processing.

Revealing and concerning is the difference between first and third world countries and in particular, Central African countries. The family from Chad spends only $2,50 on food, just a 20th of the German Family!

click the image to visit the website

This is quite startling, although the environmental impact is probably even more interesting given the almost complete lack of processed food, besides post harvest processing, and one way packaging in the food of the Chadian family. While the German family shows that in a week they used around sixty glass, plastic and board beverage containers.

Not much scope for a Food Processor in Chad!

The answer to the question in the title is that we can’t tell from these single images. However, we can be sure that the general differences highlighted are an indication of the food culture differences. We also know from the research on waste, that a significant fraction of the food (maybe a quarter) shown in the German home is probably wasted, while very little of that reaching the Chadian household is.



Chemical Engineering Unit Operations in Food Processing

As a Chemical Engineer I have always promoted the role that the Chemical Engineering Unit Operation plays in food manufacturing.

Chemical Engineers in Food Manufacturing - Action Innovation at Work

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As well as elaborating on Chemical Engineering’s input to progress in the industry, this article simply charts the changes which lead from what we would now call artisanal local food to multinational worldwide distribution of cheap food.

The question as to which of these two is the better from the energy, global warming, health, taste, sustainability …. viewpoints is something that requires attention as the world gets squeezed and another opportunity for Chemical Engineers.

Tired of “One Third of All Food Produced is Lost or Wasted”

Its true that “One Third of All Food Produced is Lost or Wasted” but it does get a bit boring when we hear it over and over along with a means of reducing it which is simple and obvious. This is made worse by the fact that these means of reducing loss are often very daunting and require actions that you have little effect on.

click the image to visit the website

This CTA briefing paper does a good job of summarizing the various places and ways in which these losses can be addressed. It for example shows that consumers in upper income communities need to take care of their actions and reduce losses – something that's hard for the individual to impact on and where no progress is evident. But we should all keep enthusiastic about it and do whatever we can to reduce waste even if our little effort is not going to be significant on its own.

As a Food Processor, a way of looking at this and keeping up the enthusiasm is to see the other benefits of saving food, which are not always considered. Whatever you do to reduce losses in you plant doesn't only reduce losses of food it

  • Reduces agricultural input usage
  • Increases sustainability of you business
  • Saves you money, when the action required (as is often the case) does not require extra cost
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduction in water and energy consumption