Recently, I was lucky enough to attend the launch of the Tetra Pak E3 electron beam (eBeam) filling machine platform at Fispal Tecnologia in São Paulo, Brazil.
This innovation, developed in partnership with Switzerland-based Comet, brings the breakthrough eBeam technology to the beverage carton industry for the first time, replacing the traditional liquid hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) sterilisation of packaging material with eBeams. The hydrogen peroxide sterilisation process has long been physical limitation to carton packaging speed.
Although eBeams are already used in the food industry, Tetra Pak is the first company to use it in carton filling machines. The sterilisation technology is non-contact and completely dry, and the controllable monitoring system produces controlled results. It works by focussing a controlled beam of electrons onto the surface of packaging material as it runs through the filling machine, killing any bacteria or micro-organism present.
According to vice president of packaging technologies Laurence Mott, the key benefits of eBeam over H2O2 in the packaging sterilisation process are: 20% reduced operations costs; it has a maxiumum capacity of up to 40,000 portion packs per hour (a 60% increase in capacity compared to Tetra Pak A3/Speed for Portion Packages); increased production flexibility; and better environmental performance (easier water recycling and packaging, reduced product waste and lower energy consumption).
Three years of trials were carried out to test the safety of the system and pilots were carried out with some of the world’s leading dairy producers, including Bratlislava-based Rajo – Slovakia’s biggest dairy producer. Between 2011 and 2014, Rajo produced 110m packages of UHT milk in Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Slim on a Tetra Pak A3/Speed machine equipped with the new eBeam sterilisation system.
Rajo production manager Peter Novorol’ník said: “Today we can say that the new eBeam technology could be the solution for future improvement. This innovative system offers clear savings on hydrogen peroxide consumption. To sterilise 1m packages you need 300l of hydrogen peroxide, so the saving is considerable.”
The company plans to launch Tetra Pak E3 in three versions, including Tetra Pak E3/CompactFlex Extended Shelf Life, Tetra Pak E3/Speed Portion Packages and Tetra Pak E3/Flex Extended Shelf Life.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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