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Energy-efficient plate heat exchanger has ‘huge potential’, Alfa Laval

By Ben Bouckley , 17-Nov-2011
Last updated on 17-Nov-2011 at 12:29 GMT

Swedish heat transfer specialist Alfa Laval claimed that FusionLine combined the strengths of both plate and tubular heat exchange technology
Swedish heat transfer specialist Alfa Laval claimed that FusionLine combined the strengths of both plate and tubular heat exchange technology

Alfa Laval has launched an energy-efficient and cost-effective heat exchanger called FusionLine that it claims has immense potential to effect a ‘technology conversion’ for food firms.

Heat exchangers are used within food production to allow the efficient transfer of heat from one medium to another, and allow processors to control temperatures.

Some applications require that the product be held at a constant temperature – whilst heat is released or absorbed. In others the product temperature itself may need to be altered.

Presenting FusionLine (pictured) at Brau Beviale, in Nuremberg, Germany, Alfa Laval’s Paolo Dalle Pezze, portfolio manager for sanitary heat exchangers, introduced it as a “sort of hybrid” that was less expensive and smaller than conventional tubular solutions.

Technology conversion

Swedish heat transfer specialist Alfa Laval said the new product combined the strengths of both plate technology (energy efficiency, accessibility and modularity) and tubular technology (viscous and particulate-handling capabilities).

Dalle Pezze told journalists that FusionLine was a good choice for viscous and particulate products such as juices, prepared foods (soups and sauces) or yogurt and dairy products (where it will also be marketed by Tetra Pak), all traditionally processed in tubular heat exchangers.

But he added that every product application that used tubular heat exchangers was a potential application for FusionLine, since it was not just another plate product but a “technology conversion”.

Asked about initial market interest, he told FoodProductionDaily.com: “We have a big spread of potential applications. But I would say the first application (and this is just my gut feeling) where it will be easier for customers to convert existing technology is in the fruit juice area.”

Dalle Pezze said Alfa Laval had even tested FusionLine with tomatoes and chocolate. “But what we lack at the moment is customers available to test this product in production [it was only launched at Brau].”

He explained that the product used Alfa Laval’s AlfaFusion technology (patented in 2003 and first used in its AlfaNova model) with specific development work beginning 2-3 years ago.

FusionLine (pictured) features a 4-6mm open channel on the product side, which the Alfa Laval said was easy to clean in place (CIP) due to full accessibility.

Open-channel design

The company said this open-channel design was made possible by bonded plate technology, with plates brazed using its patented technique (AlfaFusion) to bond 2 stainless plates together into one piece with no joints.

Alfa Laval said that AlfaFusion allowed the use of thin plates to provide optimum heat transfer, but also maintained a high resistance against product pressure.

The company said: “The unique channel geometry ensures gentle product treatment. Plates can be easily added and removed, providing the flexibility to react to changes in production volume.

“The footprint is also 30-40 per cent smaller than a tubular heat exchanger,” Alfa Laval added.

Another touted benefit for the heat exchanger is its low pumping power requirement, which will allow processors to save on electricity costs and achieve a smaller carbon footprint.

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