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Special Edition: alternatives to carbon heavy processes

Stoving eco project flounders but dairy and bakery go green

By Jane Byrne , 26-May-2011
Last updated on 26-May-2011 at 13:52 GMT2011-05-26T13:52:09Z

Little industry interest in scaling up alternatives to the energy intensive conventional stoving method for jellies parked a UK agency’s bid to develop a microwave based method but low carbon technology projects in dairy and bakery are taking off.

In the third part of our special edition on alternatives to carbon heavy processes, we hear from the Carbon Trust on plans to fund other eco projects in the confectionery sector as well as developments involving major UK dairy and bakery brand owners.

Finding energy efficient technical processes that can then be replicated widely across each food category is the ultimate goal of the Carbon Trust.

Last October, it reported that carbon emissions from the production of gums and jellies hits 60,000 tonnes per annum and the advocates then challenged technology providers and manufacturers such as project champions Nestlé, Tangerine and Cadbury to develop consortia to trial and demonstrate alternatives.

But Carbon Trust technology acceleration manager, Al-Karim Govindji, told this publication that the sector did not take up the gauntlet on progressing these novel processes beyond the research phase:

“A stoving method based on microwave curing was always a bit ‘blue sky’ and was only ever going to tackle one aspect of the confectionery sector, so there was not a massive amount of interest from a sector, which is quite consolidated, in taking it further.

The decision of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to cease its support for the Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) scheme from March this year also left confectioners unsure as how any technology scale up would get matching funding,” explained Govindji.

Heat recovery

The Carbon Trust acceleration manger reports that the advocacy group is now in early stage talks with some chocolate manufacturers in relation to developing a funding route to explore options such as heat recovery systems.

And the round two phase of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills Regional Growth fund – totalling £1.4bn - is a promising revenue source, with the application deadline set for 1 July 2011, notes Govindji.

Bakery innovation

He said that low carbon technology projects in the bakery and dairy industries, arising from a similar IEEA initiative supported by the Carbon Trust, have already received funding through the first round of that regional funding programme.

“Plant scale trials of these low carbon processes involving well know dairy manufacturers such as Arla Foods and BV Dairy along with bakeries including Irwins and Morrissons are contracted to start within four to eight weeks,” added Govindji.

The Carbon Trust worked closely with the industrial bakery sector in 2009 and 2010 to understand energy use in the manufacturing process with data from submetering of the baking process showing ovens account for 35 to 45 per cent of site emissions.

In terms of bakery, continuded Govindji, four eco-technology projects have been funded including one involving the lightweighting of tin pans with Irwins Bakery and supplier Capway Systems.

It was noted that more heat was used to heat the tin rather than the bread in scoping trials and it is hoped a reduction in the tin material will counter this.”

Improved combustion efficiency based on a method to stabilise flue pressure is being trialled at both Morrison and Jackson bakeries, while Fosters is evaluating a process that measures excess air in ovens for greater combustion control, added the Carbon Trust spokesperson.

Heat recovery in bakery manufacturer is the fourth project, and it is aiming to get to grips with novel burner control. Fosters is again involved in this technology scale up, reported Govindji.

Cleaning challenges

Innovation in Clean-in-Place (CIP) is behind the funded trials focused on the dairy sector.

The UK dairy processing industry processes over 13 billion litres of milk and emits around 860,000 tonnes of CO2 every year from over 100 sites that produce a variety of dairy products.

SPX Technology is set to work with Arla Foods on a trial involving the ionising of sodium chloride to clean pipes.

Moreover, an ice slurry-based alternative to a hot water and caustic conventional CIP system, developed in conjunction with the University of Bristol, is also set to be scaled up in the next 2 months, said the Carbon Trust.

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