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The answer to safe and sustainable sugar syrup disinfection
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

12 February 2024

The answer to safe and sustainable sugar syrup disinfection

As the beverage industry strives to meet the highest production and sustainability standards, getting the right disinfection solutions in place to meet safety and environmental criteria is more critical than ever. One area that can prove challenging is disinfection for sugar syrup, but high-performance UV technology holds the answer. Julien Puech, UV expert at Xylem + Evoqua, explains more by tackling some of the industry’s frequently asked questions. Why can disinfection for sugar syrup be challenging? While UV is an effective disinfectant for beverage producers, sugar syrups used to flavour drinks provide a unique challenge to conventional UV treatment systems. Sugar syrups have a low UV transmissivity of 20%-30%, with some syrups, especially those with a yellow tint, as low as 15%. Higher UV doses are usually required for disinfection due to the resistant nature of the microorganisms to be treated, and this, combined with the low UV transmissivity, requires specialist technology solutions. It’s important to remember that contrary to conventional water treatment, sugar syrup is not considered water but a high-viscosity liquid and consequently, the treatment approach is different. Why is UV disinfection key to beverage production? UV light provides effective inactivation of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, moulds and other pathogens without the use of chemicals. UV light works by causing damage to the DNA or RNA found in microbial contaminants, such as change to spoilage organisms specific to sugar, which are then unable to replicate. UV disinfection has many advantages, not least that it requires no toxic or corrosive chemicals for disinfection, which has vast safety and storage benefits for beverage manufacturers. What UV disinfection is effective for sugar syrup? Keep in mind that UV disinfection of sugar syrups is not the same as UV disinfection of water. UV disinfection systems designed for general applications contain large gaps of 3-10cm between the quartz sleeves and UV reactor wall, which will allow untreated zones for the sugar syrup to pass through, rendering the UV treatment ineffective. For UV to be effective for treating sugar syrups, there must be an extremely small gap, ideally less than 10mm, between the quartz sleeve and UV reactor, and this can be achieved with the Evoqua VXM UV Systems from the market-leading ATG UV product range. This is possible thanks to our single lamp design, which creates a thin film layer between the chamber wall and quartz sleeve. On the other hand, a multiple-lamp design will have a dead zone and should be avoided. The VXM UV Systems have been designed to operate at elevated temperatures, to which sugar syrups are often heated. Sugar syrups may also require higher doses of UV light treatment due to the more resistant nature of the microorganisms they contain. Such as alicyclobacillus, which is acid tolerant and capable of surviving high temperatures, thus rendering useless the traditional heat treatment processes commonly used in the food and beverage industry. So, while UV treatment for sugar syrups is highly effective, the UV system used must be designed specifically for this application to achieve desired results and must have the features and control interfaces to correctly integrate into wider production processes. All of which the Evoqua VXM UV Systems expertly deliver. How do VXM UV Systems work? VXM UV Systems are the most powerful UV solution for sugar syrup disinfection. They have been engineered by Xylem + Evoqua for this purpose, utilising the latest in thin film quartz and polychromatic lamp technology, with specially designed UV chambers for effective UV dose distribution of solutions up to 69Brix and at high temperatures. Using specialised high power medium pressure UV lamps, the VXM-180-3 provides the required power in a single lamp to effectively treat the sugar syrup. Meanwhile, the system is unaffected by the higher temperature of liquid sugars. The VXM-180-3 ‘thin film’ design, where the distance between the UV lamp and the wall of the UV reactor has a maximum gap of just 7 millimetres, is also crucial to any system treating liquid sugar. The powerful nature of the VXM-180-3 system enables effective disinfectant best achieved with a single lamp system. How simple is it to integrate VXM UV Systems into my plant? Very simple. The VXM UV Systems have been designed with users in mind and can be paired with the Spectra 3 control system to provide a sophisticated microprocessor designed for control flexibility and system integration. The Spectra 3 allows full integration into production process lines, and is essential for applications of this type, with a range of user-selectable analogue and digital inputs/outputs, combined with Modbus capability. It also provides a continual data logging facility for quality records and monitoring. The data provided through the controller can be used to analyse trends and modify operations to maximise efficiency. How will VXM Systems support my plant’s sustainability programme? All Xylem + Evoqua solutions have been designed and engineered with sustainability as a priority. UV technology itself is one of the most sustainable disinfection methods available due to its low power consumption and no requirement for chemicals. The VXM UV Systems also use the latest AT-900 UV intensity system, traceable to NIST standards. Using the feedback from the AT-900 enables the power to the lamps to be varied depending on the quality of water to be treated, allowing power savings and increased lamp life for larger systems. The VXM UV Systems have an industry-leading record of success in UV deployments, and Xylem + Evoqua is a trusted provider of UV for speciality applications. Learn more about the safe and sustainable answer to sugar syrup disinfection here. Evoqua UV disinfection generator systems undergo third-party validation testing in accordance with the UVDGM (USEPA, 2006). Validated products are tested to confirm a minimum inactivation equivalent of 3 log (99.9%) for microorganisms in accordance with NSF/ANSI 50 and the UVDGM. Performance is not claimed nor implied for any product not yet validated; unvalidated products use single-point summation calculations to provide delivered dose recommendations. Performance limitations depend on feed conditions, overall installed system design, and operation and maintenance processes; please refer to Operations Manuals. For more information: Contactus@evoqua.com

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