Food Engineering recently visited the New Mexico facility with Everton, a mechanical engineer with a degree from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, who worked for Conoco Oil before helping form Acqua. Everton oversaw deployment of the Acqua separator technology at Shell oil sites worldwide and spent a total of four months in New Mexico transferring the technology to the US food and beverage industry.
FE: What advantages does the cyclonic evaporator offer, compared to other falling-film evaporators?
Everton: The most obvious is size: the calandria is approximately half the height of a conventional unit. Besides reducing fabrication costs, a smaller size means a smaller footprint and lower capital costs in the plant. Energy efficiency is another advantage. The heads create a swirling motion, like water going down a drain, with very even distribution. Typically, energy costs can make evaporators very uneconomical to operate. But the helical heads on each of the tubes inside the calandria greatly increase the heat transfer coefficient, while the swirling effect created in the fluid stream reduces burn-on and allows longer production runs between cleaning cycles.
FE: How does the evaporator at Select Milk work?
Everton: Lactate permeate enters a balance tank at 36