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Radical cryogenic food freezing research starts

By Ben Bouckley , 09-Sep-2011

A ground-breaking new UK-led research project will investigate the potential for cryogenic and electromagnetic freezing and chilling technologies for food processing applications.

The Grimsby Institute and Air Products said that its collaborative international research programme would support the creation of best practice guidelines for food freezing and chilled and lead to development of advanced new technologies.

The initial year-long programme, which begins in October, will provide a strategic overview of the principles and practices of freezing food "starting from first principles", Professor Dillon, from the Grimsby Institute told FoodProductionDaily.com.

Cryogenic potential

Dillon said initial “desk-based research” would be led by the institute’s Food Refrigeration Process Engineering Research Centre (FRPERC), supported by research students from Southern Chinese universities.

Air Products, a leading global supplier of food freezing and chilling systems, is also be collaborating on the research project, providing access to the latest cryogenic freezing systems and advising on how to optimise systems.

So what potential cost, time and quality advantages do cryogenic – as opposed to conventional – freezing technologies offer? And would they provide clear advantages in any given food sector?

Jon Trembley, technology manager for cryogenic applications at Air Products, told FoodProductionDaily.com that cryogenic freezing and chilling technologies held “significant potential”, but that advantages had yet to be quantified.

‘Cells Alive’ technology

Trembley said:“This research project aims to provide definitive guidance to food processors about the capabilities of cryogenic technologies compared with other advanced technologies, as well as traditional mechanical freezing and chilling systems.

“In particular, we hope to learn more about the effects of dehydration, quality, texture and drip-loss (to name a few) on different food groups, when subjected to different technologies.

Trembley said that, as a result of the research, Air Products would be “better placed” to advise companies about the efficiency of the best available technologies and their suitability for specific applications

The research project will also explore the role of electromagnets in advanced freezing applications.

One starting point for the research team will be its analysis of the so-called ‘Cells Alive System’, an award-winning electromagnetic freezing system from Japan.

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