Fluid Air spray drying technology addresses the needs of premium and niche product processing. Food & Beverage Industry News reports.
There are several benefits to employing low temp spray drying in the food production space and Fluid Air spray drying technology, a division of Spraying Systems, has already generated a proven track record for producing quality powder.
Fluid Air is helping to define the next generation of spray drying technology by creating scalable powder manufacturing solutions.
The benefits of using a low temperature spray dryer over more traditional heat drying technology brings with it a host of benefits, not least of which is extended shelf life.
Head of global research at Fluid Air, Dr Bogan Zisu, spoke to Food & Beverage Industry News about how its spray drying technology is all about creating greater quality, over quantity.
“These lower temperatures pretty much allow us to dry a quality product without killing off living cells or destroying biological activity in high value products, like lactoferrin in dairy, for example.”
In relation to the dairy example, being able to retain a particular biological element of Lactoferrin, is a major benefit for high quality and high value dairy products.
“Lactoferrin is highly sought after for its health promoting properties and is used widely in infant formulations, for example, which is a significant contributor for Australian dairy and exports,” said Zisu.
Only a decade ago the technology which now creates the foundation for Spraying Systems’ Fluid Air spray drying machinery was still in its infancy, but in that short time the results have proven positive for all that have taken it on board, with the dairy example above as a key indicator of the advantages.
Fluid Air can accommodate a wide range of food products, including niche products on top of high value dairy, flavouring, and essences.
The two main applications are drying at low temperature and the second aspect is encapsulation of oils. Conventional methods of drying are widely used in food preservation and spray drying of liquids and encapsulation of oils is common practice in Australian manufacturing.
Fluid Air handles a variety of products ranging from microencapsulated oil emulsions, living microorganisms, bioactive proteins such as lactoferrin and immunoglobulins, other biological materials, and to a lesser degree, inorganic materials.
Since the late 19th century, spray drying technology has seen use on an industrial-scale and the technology has evolved only incrementally with the fundamentals remaining very much the same as today.
In both traditional spray drying and in the PolarDry process, liquid droplets are atomised and sprayed into a stream of drying gas. Then, heat is transferred from the drying gas to the liquid and the solvent is evaporated resulting in a dry, powdered material.
The applications are proving to be perfect for premium and functional products, including biological products and extracts.
“It’s always been easy enough to dry but it’s the quality of the extract, it produces a product with higher viability, more natural colouring and better antioxidant preservation. It is the next level of quality in terms of processing,” said Mark Condro, technical sales & business development manager, Australia & New Zealand.
“If it does have antioxidant properties, you are more likely to preserve those properties. This is a growing and developing sector around the world, marine bio products is something we are becoming heavily involved in such as micro algae and seaweeds.”
Fluid Air technology has been developed to address the needs of premium and functional products that other spray drying technologies may not be able to achieve as easily.
“Our technology is designed to address the needs in terms of processing high value products and preventing loss,” said Condro.
“Capacity can be scaled up to meet any, but we’re drying smaller quantities of high value and high return products where function and biological activity is the key driver, not quantity. Quality and function are what it’s all about”.
As a point of difference, more traditional spray drying technology tend to work at very high temperatures to achieve the highest output possible, often at the expense of quality.
Zisu said Spraying Systems’ Fluid Air innovations work strongly to ensure greater functionality.
“Things that are killed off or denatured by heat, proteins and living cells for example, will die off in a traditional spray dryer,” he said.
“We work at much lower temperatures, half the drying temperatures in terms of degrees Celsius.
“Those lower temperatures pretty much allow us to dry a quality product without killing off living cells or destroying biological activity in high value products, like lactoferrin in dairy, for example.”
There are several techniques that can be used for flavour preservation or presentation which usually involves encapsulation. This is where you trap the flavour and then present it in a gel or liquid form, but most of the time it will be a powder.
“First you extract the oil from the botanical and then you would spray dry it as opposed to blending it,” said Zisu.
“The applications of the extracts are wide ranging.”
These processes are proving fruitful in the greens powders and other botanical products.
“Compared to standard processes, if it is a heat process, they are achieving greater returns however with lower biological activity,” said Condro.
“When comparing to other technologies, such as freeze drying, we are comparable or maybe a bit better in terms of quality, but [our spray drier]is a continuous throughput operation that is the major benefit, so throughput is higher.”
“For anything that is high value, we will help you make the most of the extra investment in your business.”