Dairy processing firm Gay Lea Foods is testing Radiant Energy Vacuum (REV) dehydration technology from Canadian company EnWave to create dried dairy products.
If Gay Lea’s market evaluation phase is successful, it would be free to sign an exclusive licence to use the system, which uses microwave energy transfer under vacuum.
"We are looking forward to utilizing EnWave's REV technology to develop shelf-stable dairy products that are healthy, flavorful and innovative," said David Jennison, Gay Lea Vice President of Research and Product Development.
EnWave originally collaborated with the University of British Columbia to develop the proprietary technology as a faster and cheaper alternative to freeze-drying that would deliver better quality than air drying or spray drying.
‘Major advantages over freeze drying’
“EnWave's scientific and engineering test programs have shown major advantages of REV over freeze drying including significantly lower energy costs, lower capital costs, and faster processing times,” said John McNicol, director, president and co-chief executive officer.
“REV also produces dried material with better nutritional retention, flavor and texture than air drying and spray drying which use high heat to remove water from products.”
EnWave’s first major US customer, Milne Fruit Products, took on the technology in 2011 to launch healthy berry snacks and powders across most major markets in North America.
The company claims it is clinching a wide range of research and collaboration agreements with multinational manufacturers including Nestlé, Kellogg, Grupo Bimbo, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Hormel and Bonduelle.
EnWave currently has six REV platforms, which it showcases at its pilot plant in Delta, British Columbia. Commercial scale forms nutraREV and MIVAP are used to dry fruits, vegetables, meat, herbs and seafood quickly and cheaply, while maintaining high nutrition, taste, texture and colour.
The business is developing powderREV for bulk dehydration of food cultures, probiotics and fine biochemicals, including enzymes, and quanta REV for continuous, high volume, low temperature drying of pastes, gels, liquids or particulates.
It has also developed bioREV and freezeREV to stabilise and dehydrate biopharmaceuticals such as vaccines and antibodies.
While there have been reported limitations on using microwave technology to dry food, the firm claims it has found engineering solutions to circumvent them.
It also claimed its June 2012 acquisition of German business Hans Binder Maschinenbau, which makes custom dryers and dehydration turnkey plants, would increase branded manufacturers’ confidence in its technology.