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Energy-saving concept for direct heating

Krones has innovated a more energy-efficient method for heating sensitive beverages like milk-based drinks and plant-based alternatives using their VarioAsept D system. 

Krones AG, continues to build upon its reputation for innovative solutions and technologies aimed at optimising the production process with the development of its latest energy-saving concept. Krones’ process technology team has revolutionised the heart of the VarioAsept D – that is, the direct-heating process itself. Taking a cue from high-gravity brewing, which has proven itself in the beer sector, Krones has introduced what it calls high-gravity heating, in which the product (oat drink or a dairy-based drink) is fed into the direct-heating system in a concentrated form. In other words, the water content of the beverage at this point is lower than that of the finished product.

There are two methods available for the direct heating of a product: The VarioAsept D can use either injection or infusion, whichever the customer prefers. 

  • For infusion, Krones uses what it calls high-gravity heating. This process makes it possible to reduce the amount of energy consumed both in the direct heating itself and in upstream steps such as mashing.

This concept can render the making of highly sensitive products such as milk-based beverages and plant-based milk alternatives like oat drinks significantly more
energy efficient. 

The genius of heating a concentrated product in this way becomes apparent when we look at the cooling process

That’s because, to arrive at the desired finished product, a conventional direct-heating system will remove the same amount of steam that was injected or infused into the product during heating. 

Since the high-gravity approach involves adding water to a concentrated product in a later stage, Krones solves the problem by simply leaving a predefined amount of the steam in the product during cooling. 

Advantages of the concept 

Producers of highly sensitive beverages like milk-based drinks and plant-based milk alternatives benefit from the energy-saving concept at several points along their process. 

For instance, the finished product itself can be used as a heat source, so that no additional steam needs to be supplied to the heat exchanger. 

A higher target temperature following heat treatment means that less cooling output is demanded of the condenser. 

The temperature of the process water coming off the flash cooler can, in fact, be raised by up to 15 degrees Celsius, and the resulting surplus heat can be used in upstream processes such as mashing.

The idea underlying this holistic energy-saving concept originated in the brewing industry, where it has proven extremely beneficial. 

And now Krones has shown that it can also be adapted for the manufacture of dairy and other liquid-food products. It’s a perfect example of how energy-saving concepts that have long since become established in the brewing industry can also be applied in the liquid-food sector. 

Beverage and liquid food companies also benefit from this innovative vigour. 

Because, thanks to this energy-efficiency concept, they are able to reduce the amount of energy needed to make their products – and, in the bargain, to actively contribute to rendering their entire production operation more sustainable.

This shows that energy-saving concepts can be effectively applied across industries, benefiting beverage and food companies by reducing energy consumption and enhancing sustainability. 

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