Food Engineering
Steam infusion

Steam infusion UHT treatment can improve tastes and limit chemical degradation

The technology can increase running times and lead to better production efficiencies.

January 14, 2013

Steam infusion UHT treatment can improve tastes and limit chemical degradation

According to SPX Flow Technology, steam infusion ultra-high-temperature treatment can significantly improve product taste and limit chemical degradation while achieving commercial microorganism kill rates through rapid, controlled heating. The technology also minimizes fouling, leading to less frequent CIP requirements, longer running times and better production efficiencies.

Steam infusion is a direct heating system, unlike indirect heating methods which use plate or tubular heat exchangers. Product is first pre-heated and pumped into an infuser, which is a pressure vessel with cones at either end. A steam infusion chamber typically has multiple nozzles through which the product is distributed, entering the steam atmosphere in a number of jets without hitting the wall of the vessel until it reaches the bottom cone.

Due to the latent heat of vaporization, heating is almost instantaneous, typically taking just 0.2 seconds. A cooling jacket on the bottom cone limits burn-on and fouling while a pump mounted directly below the chamber ensures a well-defined, single-phase flow free of air and steam bubbles. Flash cooling in a precisely controlled vacuum vessel removes the correct amount of water to produce a final product that is neither diluted nor concentrated.

Because of the short time at high temperature and the low-pressure differential between the product and the steam, the chamber provides instant, gentle heating with minimal chemical change to the final product.

Steam infusion can be used for products including milk, creams, puddings, ice cream, baby food, condensed milk, processed cheese and sauces. For more information, click here.