The 21st Century Food Manufacturing Organization

Five years into the new millennium, a handful of manufacturing visionaries assesses the current state of American food processing and whether it’s prepared for the future.

By Mike Pehanich, Plant Operations Editor, and Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

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Processors are well aware they cannot stockpile all the expertise in every niche and dimension of their operations. Sharing information – and even resources –in non-competitive areas will become more frequent. And while associations will continue to be facilitators of such efforts, expect more to take place in invitational peer group gatherings, frequently constructed around Best Practices.

Jet propulsion for foods

What started out as a novel marine propulsion system has been developed into an even more novel processing system for liquid foods and drink, one that can mix, cook, pump, emulsify and homogenize simultaneously.

Pursuit Dynamics Inc. (, Darien, Conn., a subsidiary of the UK’s of Pursuit Dynamics Plc, is just establishing a beachhead in the U.S. (in partnership with A&B Process Systems) for its PDX Sonic system. By accelerating steam to three times the speed of sound, the heat and moving energy of the steam instantaneously is transferred to soups, sauces, jellies, drinks and other liquids.

The PDX technology introduces steam into the process fluid at supersonic speeds. The high velocity steam shears the fluid into minute droplets, creating a high velocity vapor flow leading to a condensation shockwave across the entire bore of the unit. This mechanism simultaneously provides a pumping action and an intimate mixing and heating of the product. The intensity of this process is fully controllable. There are no moving parts to block or constrict and no contact heat surfaces or hotspots to contaminate. The manufacturer claims it improves the quality of food and reduces cleaning times by up to 80 percent.

In a beta installation for an unnamed U.K. sauce and soup manufacturer, a sweet and sour sauce, which contains at least 10 ingredients, took 3 minutes 50 seconds to process. With traditional processing, it took 55 minutes.

Ingredients are fed in through a process flow. Steam first passes through an annular expansion chamber, which wraps around the core of the PDX unit, then the steam is injected into the process flow. At supersonic velocities they combine in a vapor phase, which lasts 2 milliseconds. Then, as temperature and especially pressure decrease rapidly, the food product condenses back into its original state.

“By increasing the steam flow to a high-shear mode, we can increase mixing action to create stable emulsions with ingredients,” says Leo Cochrane, vice president of North American business development. “Or the system can be turned down to a low-shear mode, allowing for the gentle processing of soft fruits and vegetables without damage.”

UK customers Coca-Cola Enterprises, Campbell Soup and brewer Greene King Plc have licensed the technology.

While the core technology is the PDX Unit, Pursuit Dynamics is creating skid-mounted processing systems that include a one-ton vessel, infeed entrainment hoppers and computerized controls.

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