Cash boost helps electron beam company make waves in aseptic packing

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Coffee

A US company that uses electron beams to sterilise aseptic packaging plans to use a $14m-cash-injection to develop new technology, increase sales and boost its finances.

Massachusetts-based Advanced Electron Beams (AEB) said the latest funding brings the total raised by the company to more than $50m. The company said it hoped to use the funding to develop its air pollution control space technology, where companies could use e-beams instead of burning pollutants.

New products

Josh Epstein, director of marketing, told the company is also developing a new, smaller emitter, with a narrower nozzle that will fit inside beverage containers. The product is expected to be introduced in September.

CEO Mitch Tyson added: “No one has been able to do that up until this point.”

He said he hoped the cash infusion would get the cash-flow negative company to break even.

AEB also announced it is expecting to receive two letters of non-objection from the Food and Drug Administration for new technology in the near future.

Poised for growth

E-beams have been used for decades in the food and beverage sectors. They work by directing a shower of accelerated electrons through a high-voltage emitter towards a target. However, a number of developments in recent years suggests the technology is poised for substantial growth, said Epstein.

One advancement is the miniturisiation of the technology. Where units often measured 20 feet by10 feet (approx 6m x 3m), they had now shrunk to one hundredth of that size. This means the systems can be integrated into beverage filling equipment, eliminating the need to bring containers to dedicated irradiation centres.

Another development is the growth of aseptic packaging, particularly in the beverage industry as demand “moves away from carbonated soft-drinks towards functional beverages, ready-to-drink teas and coffees and dairy-based drinks,”​ said Epstein.

Sustainability boost

E-beam technology offers a chemical-free alternative to conventional sterilisation, as well as delivering reduced energy costs, a smaller processing footprint and a cut in water consumption as it eliminates the need for rinse water, he added. The process also results in lightweighting of packing design because no heating is involved in the sterilisation procedure. The company said its technology help traditional aseptic manufacturers become more sustainable.

Epstein said that while capital costs for e-beam technology were “slightly higher”​ than conventional sterialisation systems, payback could be achieved within 12-18 months on energy savings alone.

AEB is working with 12 original equipment manufacturers at various design stages, as well as 50 customers - 19 of which are Fortune 1,000 companies, said the marketing director. Around 75 per cent of its clients are in the food and beverage industries, with the rest from the pharmaceutical sector. The company has shipped 200 of its e-beams worldwide, mainly in the United States, Europe and Japan.

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