Freeze drying

Every GEA freeze dryer is designed to help you create a product that will succeed in the market — with GEA being a partner in reaching that goal.

GEA Ray Freeze Dryer

Freeze drying is a low-temperature dehydration process that’s typically used to preserve a perishable material or make it more convenient for transport or storage. Freeze drying works by freezing the product and then reducing the surrounding pressure to allow the frozen water in the material to sublimate directly from the solid phase to the gas phase.

As a result, freeze dried foodstuffs have many advantages; they’re easy to ship and store, needing no refrigeration, they have extended shelf-lives and can be consumed with a minimum of preparation, making it an ideal process for many types of convenience foods.

Batch or continuous

GEA Freeze dried strawberries

GEA offers freeze dryers for a wide range of fruit and vegetable applications. Ideal for both batch-based and continuous lines, our easy to use RAY™ and CONRAD® units are designed to eliminate product loss, reduce energy costs and maximize plant reliability. 

RAY™ freeze dryers for batch-based applications are designed as modular systems and offer a number of advantages during installation and operation and provide easy access for cleaning and maintenance. 

CONRAD® freeze dryers are ideally suited for large volume, high value products. The CONRAD® range is fully automated and requires only minimal staff for continuous operation. All movement and process parameters are carefully controlled, monitored and logged.

A unique feature of all GEA freeze dryers is the internal vapor condenser with built-in de-icing system. Compared with external condenser systems, the equipment is compact, uses less energy, minimizes product loss to as little as 0.1% and, because the condenser system does not rely on large external vacuum valves, it’s significantly more reliable. Furthermore, they’re economical to operate and easy to maintain.

To further optimize the productivity of the CONRAD®, an ECO version is available; with a larger diameter and an increased condenser surface, the refrigeration system can be made up to 10% more energy efficient.

Preparation

GEA Freeze dried mushrooms

The drying process is fundamentally the same for any type of product, but the way in which different materials are prepared for drying varies considerably. Careful preparation is essential to retain the original characteristics and to meet the requirements of the finished product. 

Items such as whole fruits, berries, seafood, meat and vegetables — referred to as Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) products — are loaded directly onto CONRAD® or RAY™ trays before passing through the respective freeze dryer.

Combined products, including soup blocks, rice dishes, baby foods, camping food, convenience foods, etc., are normally loaded into special plastic molds on the CONRAD® or RAY™ trays to define the size of the final product. 

RAY™ Pilot Plant and Test Facilities

Offering a wide range of benefits, GEA’s RAY™ Pilot Plant (RAY™ PP) is a batch-based freeze dryer that has been specifically designed for new product development. Enabling users to test and optimize important process parameters prior to full-scale manufacture, it’s also suitable for small-scale production. The equipment provides fully scalable data that can be utilized to expedite time-to-market. 

To help achieve greater confidence in the safe and repeatable production of your food products prior to market release, GEA has built dedicated test centers that have been designed to aid development and facilitate small-scale product trials before scaling-up to commercial-level production.