Aseptic heat treatment
Ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment is an essential stage in the production of liquid nutritional formula products, which are packaged as sterile formulations that have a long shelf life at ambient temperatures.
Heat treatment for shelf-stable liquid nutritional formula
Maintaining sterility means that following UHT treatment all downstream processes, including packaging, must also be carried out under aseptic conditions. GEA customers worldwide rely on our robust, gentle aseptic processes, from UHT processing, homogenization and de-aeration, through to blow & fill, and capping. Our comprehensive portfolio of plants and solutions has been designed to promise faultless operation and microbiological safety for any process, product or capacity.
UHT treatment for ultimate microbiological safety
The UHT process involves heating the liquid to a maximum of 150 °C for 2–3 seconds, and then immediately cooling it back down to 5–6 °C. While this method effectively kills all harmful bacteria, it’s just as important that the process doesn’t damage the nutritional components or alter the organoleptic properties of the ingredients and final product. Building on decades of dairy industry knowhow, technology and engineering expertise, GEA has developed energy-efficient UHT treatment solutions that promise unfailing microbiological safety, without affecting final product quality or stability.
Indirect and direct UHT plants
We offer robust inline plants for indirect and direct UHT processing. Our single and multitube tubular heat exchangers for indirect heating can achieve up to 90% heat recovery, while direct UHT treatment using our fast steam injection and flash-cooling equipment is gentle on proteins and other key dairy constituents. All of our UHT solutions are designed to generate high quality products with better flavor, less dissolved oxygen, and optimum shelf-life. And because we realize that every customer will have different needs, we tailor UHT solutions to match product and process requirements, plant layout and throughput.
UHT treatment is commonly followed by aseptic high-pressure homogenization to reduce particle size and generate a stable emulsion with improved shelf-life, viscosity, taste and color. Our energy-efficient Ariete aseptic homogenizer technology can be configured for industrial-scale production of top quality liquid nutritional formula, while still reducing energy consumption by up to 7% by using our NanoVALVE™ technology. Trouble-free, safe operation and easy maintenance make the Ariete a key technology for aseptic dairy processing.
Liquid nutritional formulas will typically undergo vacuum de-aeration to prevent oxidation, a process that is generally carried out as part of the pasteurization process. GEA de-aeration plants are designed to maximize the removal of oxygen from heated product, and feature highly efficient tubular heat exchanges to recover aroma components, which are then returned to the product. Our versatile system can be fully integrated into a thermal process, and features fully automated CIP to reduce down time and ensure thorough, resource-efficient cleaning.
Uninterrupted processing to maximize throughput and capacity is a key goal for any manufacturer. GEA offers sterile or aseptic tanks that provide a key link between UHT plant and packaging line, and which minimize upstream and downstream delays. GEA solutions feature built in pressure and temperature control units for complete plant safety, while steam barriers at all interfaces to peripheral equipment are included as standard to ensure sterility. And because we offer standardized, modular designs with side or bottom filling, GEA tanks are fast to configure and install into existing process. Our aseptic tank systems are available with capacities ranging from 200 l to 100,000 l.
Blowing and filling
PET bottles are ideal containers for today’s highly stable, long-life liquid nutritional formulations. We can supply aseptic blowing, filling and capping systems that ensure optimal container sterility, so our customers can be confident that every one of their products is safe and free from microbiological contamination.
GEA offers the most advanced equipment for sensitive beverage production, which spans a broad range of sterilization solutions that allow you to select the optimum technology or combination of systems for your products and containers. Our Whitebloc hydrogen peroxide vapor technology is ideal for use with HDPE/PET bottles. For hydrogen peroxide vapor sterilization of plastic caps we offer the Sterilcap VHP family of systems, and for aluminium foils we can configure the Sterilfoil VHP L to your requirements. We also supply the FDA-validated peracetic acid-based systems, including ECOSpin2 and Modulbloc equipment, which are both suitable for HDPE/PET containers. The Sterilcap IM and Sterilcap L technologies enable effective, thorough peracetic acid-based sterilization of plastic caps. Our ABF 1.2 system is the world’s first fully aseptic blow-fill-cap technology, and has been validated by FDA for use with shelf-stable liquid dairy products.
Enclosed in microbiological isolator environments and promising over 6 log sterilization, our blowing and filling plants can operate for prolonged continuous run cycles before the need for routine cleaning/sterilization.