Mixing at the Speed of Sound

Food processes promise greener processing, cleaner labels and higher-quality food.

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PDX Sonic technology has staked its claim on mixing and dispersing ingredients with less labor, energy and ingredient use. On the worldwide market for roughly four years, the technology is a self-contained alternative to conventional, multi-stage heating, mixing and dispersing of powders into fluids. Developed by UK-based Pursuit Dynamics Plc (www.pursuitdynamics.com), the system simultaneously mixes, pumps, homogenizes and heats ingredients — about 50 percent faster in the case of dissolving sugar in water used for beverage processing. 

Applications run the full range of fluids to ambient, frozen or chilled meats and vegetables. The limits are that particulates must measure under 47mm to pass through the system, and the product must generally contain 25 percent or more liquid content.

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PDX Sonic Technology

“The system has allowed [UK-based] Premier Foods and other food companies to compete with the big, global brands," says Stuart Rigby, head of product and process implementation for Pursuit Dynamics’ processing equipment activities. He says paybacks are very quick, particularly for high-throughput lines.

One customer’s plant, for example, produces 24 tons of tomato ketchup per hour using a single, three-ton batch vessel. It replaced a system making six tons an hour. “On top of that are huge energy reductions in manufacturing and also the opportunity to reduce ingredients [for] the same if not better quality at a cheaper price. It’s all about using less energy, less labor, less ingredients,” Rigby says.

Increased throughput, he says, leads to 25-35 percent reductions in energy over conventionally steam-heavy systems.

Rapid dispersion can eliminate gums and starches from products such as ketchup and sauces. It also can reduce milk and cream needed in Alfredo sauce by 10-14 percent while retaining “the same flavor profile and the same viscosity and mouthfeel,” Rigby says, “not to mention MSG,” which Premier Foods removed from Oxo brand soups and broths. Additionally, powdered cheese can be substituted for grated cheese.

Adaptable for flexible batch or continuous processing, the lack of moving parts in the core processing section eases cleaning. (It can be used within a CIP system as well as provide the CIP circuit's pump and heat source.)

To date, 16 systems have been installed throughout the world, including in some of the largest UK and European processor-marketers, including Wal-Mart's UK grocery unit, ASDA.

“Right now the company is looking for opportunities to find a partner to license the technology to in North America and really address the potential of that big market,” says Leo Cochrane, Pursuit Dynamics’ vice president of North American business development, based in Norwalk, Conn.

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