Ice Blasting for Food and Biomedical Applications
Last year Kluz and Geskin presented an interesting paper(*) on ice blasting for food industry and biomedical applications. Here are the highlights.
Ice blasting has a great potential as a major food peeling technology. The current food peeling technology requires expensive and complicated equipment, usually using mechanical removal methods. The variety and unpredictable shapes of food materials present major challenges. Use of chemicals is common which generate pollution streams. Stream blasting is another current peeling technology. Its erosion effectiveness is associated with the steam temperature and thus these two factors cannot be controlled separately. Ice blasting consumes six-times less energy than steam blasting and allows separate controls of its erosion effectiveness and temperature. Ice blasting is a clean process. It does not use chemicals and therefore does not generate pollution streams. It can be even used to clean other food processing equipment effectively.
Ice blasting also has a potential to be used as dermatological tool for surgical skin treatment.
Experiments were done to demonstrate the feasibility of ice blasting. In the ice generation device (“Ice Boiler”) that was shown in the article, a mist nozzle generates a water spray. The water spray passes through a layer of liquid nitrogen and forms ice particles. Liquid nitrogen absorbs the heat as a result of this phase change, evaporates, and is thus consumed gradually. The ice particles are then transferred to an ice blaster. Two types of ice blasters were shown. Both of them feed ice particles into a mixing chamber where a stream of compressed air generates vacuum and sucks in the particles. One of them feeds ice particles with a screw conveyor and the other simply submerges the mixing chamber in a fluidized bed of ice particles. These simple devices do not cost much and work well.
Ice blasting experiments were then conducted on several food products with these parameters: ice flow rate 150 g/min, ice particle diameter 15-20 micron-m, air pressure 5.5 bar, ice particle temperature -170°C, nozzle diameter 5 mm, and standoff distance 0.05-0.1 m. Peeling tests were done on Idaho potato, red potato, carrot, and apple. Photos of tested samples clearly showed that the peeling was very effective and no excessive material removal had occurred. Chicken skin contaminated with oil-based paint was also cleaned effectively, along with removal of superficial skin tissue. A de-painting test was also done on a stainless steel sample with success. In a word, this study has demonstrated the feasibility of using ice blasting in food industry and dermatology.
* Kluz, K. & Geskin, E.S. (2005) Application of ice powder in biomedical and food industries, in Mohamed Hashish (Ed.), Proceedings of the 2005 WJTA American Waterjet Conference, Houston, Texas, USA, August 21-23, Paper 2A-3.
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