Coperion is introducing the latest model in its MEGAtex cooling die series for manufacturing plant-based high-moisture meat analogues (HMMA). 

Used in vegan ground meat substitutes and chicken analogues, among other products, HMMA is manufactured using plant proteins. The MEGAtex R90 cooling die provides HMMA with its fibrous and meat-like textures.

The MEGAtex R90 texturizing unit achieves throughputs of up to 500 kg/h and is compatible with Coperion’s ZSK Food Extruders in sizes ZSK 43 and ZSK 54. The ZSK twin screw extruder and the MEGAtex cooling die are the core technologies within the high-moisture extrusion process that generates meat analogues from plant proteins with a dense, fibrous structure that closely resembles lean animal meat.

The MEGAtex R90 cooling die builds upon the principle of a round cooling die. Following discharge from the ZSK food extruder, the protein mass passes through a round channel in which the product is cooled to the desired temperature and the meat-like texture is formed to specification. For HMMA manufacturers, the cooling die opens up a spectrum of possible ingredients and textures – from smooth to loose, dense, foamy, large-pored and all the way to long- and short-fibered. The machine operator can precisely target process parameters such as temperature, pressure, shear rates and mass flow.

The central element of the MEGAtex R90 is its rotating, cooled core. This core is provided with a pitch to influence the texture and the nozzle flow. This affects the pressure in the upstream extrusion process and alters the HMMA’s texture, form, color and surface.

In order to operate HMMA production machinery at high efficiency, Coperion’s main objective in developing the MEGAtex R90 was to achieve good and fast cleanability. All of the cooling die’s surfaces are easily accessible. With just a few manual adjustments, the die core, including the drive section, can be retracted out of the cooling barrel on linear guide rails. The product channel is then fully accessible and can be cleaned quickly. Retracting the die core also makes the ZSK food extruder’s process section directly accessible. Its twin screws can then be removed as needed to easily clean the process section without moving the MEGAtex R90.

“Following the MEGAtex S7, the new MEGAtex R90 is the logical expansion of our cooling die line,” said Stefan Huber, project engineer in research and development, extrusion at Coperion. “It allows manufacturers of meat substitutes to produce HMMA with consistently very high product quality. Even at the high throughputs that the MEGAtex R90 achieves, this cooling die offers the operator the ability to modify the texture very precisely and with great variety. Thus, in combination with our ZSK Food Extruder, it fulfills important success factors for manufacturing high quality meat substitutes.”