Europe's food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the European Union; however, it is beginning to lose market share to emerging economies.
A project, the FCHR (fluid foods pasteurizer and homogenizer based on centrifugal hydrocavitation reactor), set out to perform pasteurization and homogenization in a single, scalable process based on mechanical means. This processing stage in the treatment of food offers improved product stability, shelf life, digestion and taste, according to an announcement.
The aim of the initiative was to substitute thermal pasteurization with hydrodynamic cavitation. This process can be conducted at a lower temperature while maintaining the look and taste of the milk currently on the market. Other goals included reducing processing costs but increasing energy efficiency in the pasteurizing and homogenizing process.
Hydrodynamic cavitation can be applied to a fluid, which undergoes changes in pressure, inducing the formation of micro-bubbles by high-intensity sound (cavitation). When these bubbles implode, they release large amounts of energy in the form of shock waves.
Project partners designed and tested the centrifugal hydrocavitator reactor (CHR) that comprised the core of the proposed pasteurization and homogenization plant. The work focused on scalability, energy savings and efficiency, along with increased quality and digestive ease of the product.
The FCHR technology can be potentially applied to all fluid foods that require pasteurization and homogenization, including dairy products, flavoring emulsions, fruit juices, vegetable puree, egg yolks, sauces and baby formula.