(19)
(11)EP 3 171 700 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
09.09.2020 Bulletin 2020/37

(21)Application number: 15824487.1

(22)Date of filing:  26.05.2015
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
A23C 3/037(2006.01)
A23L 3/24(2006.01)
G06K 9/62(2006.01)
H04N 7/18(2006.01)
A23L 3/16(2006.01)
G02B 1/18(2015.01)
G08B 21/18(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/DK2015/050130
(87)International publication number:
WO 2016/012026 (28.01.2016 Gazette  2016/04)

(54)

INFUSION PLANT

INFUSIONSANLAGE

INSTALLATION D'INFUSION


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 25.07.2014 DK 201400410

(43)Date of publication of application:
31.05.2017 Bulletin 2017/22

(73)Proprietor: SPX Flow Technology Danmark A/S
8600 Silkeborg (DK)

(72)Inventors:
  • THORSEN, Knud
    8883 Gjern (DK)
  • RIIS, Claus
    8600 Silkeborg (DK)
  • KJAERULFF, Gorm B.
    8600 Silkeborg (DK)
  • POULSEN, Ole
    7442 Engesvang (DK)
  • THORSEN, Claus
    8600 Silkeborg (DK)

(74)Representative: Nordic Patent Service A/S 
Bredgade 30
1260 Copenhagen K
1260 Copenhagen K (DK)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 0 794 706
WO-A1-02/060281
US-A- 4 787 304
EP-A1- 1 124 431
US-A- 4 419 301
US-A1- 2012 321 771
  
  • Anonymous: "Dairy Engineering: Lesson 2. SANITARY PIPES AND FITTING, GLASS, PLASTIC TUBING AND GASKETS", Dairy Engineering, 21 September 2012 (2012-09-21), pages 1-3, XP055497041, Retrieved from the Internet: URL:http://ecoursesonline.iasri.res.in/mod /page/view.php?id=91825 [retrieved on 2018-08-02]
  • Benjamn Valdez ET AL: "Corrosion in the Food Industry and Its Control" In: "Food Industrial Processes - Methods and Equipment", 22 February 2012 (2012-02-22), InTech, XP055497046, ISBN: 978-953-30-7905-9 DOI: 10.5772/35008,
  • Anonymous: "What is the Difference Between Welded and Seamless Sanitary Tubing?", Holland Applied Technologies, 6 January 2014 (2014-01-06), pages 1-3, XP055497066, Retrieved from the Internet: URL:https://hollandaptblog.com/2014/01/06/ what-is-the-difference-between-welded-and- seamless-sanitary-tubing/ [retrieved on 2018-08-02]
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0001] The disclosure relates to a plant for ultra-high temperature treatment (UHT) of heat-sensitive fluid foodstuffs, such as whey protein concentrate, baby food, nutritious drinks and cheese milk, the plant comprising an infusion chamber in which the fluid is heat treated by way of supply of steam.

BACKGROUND



[0002] EP 0 794 706 discloses an infusion plant for high temperature treatment heat-sensitive fluid foodstuffs, such as whey protein concentrate and cheese milk. The plant has an infusion chamber, in which the fluid is subjected to a heat treatment by feeding steam. The food product is introduced at the top of the infusion chamber as a bundle of separate and mainly downwardly directed jets of foodstuff. The lower section of the infusion chamber serves to collect the foodstuff and has cooled walls using a cooling jacket. An outlet opening of the infusion chamber is arranged at the bottom of the infusion chamber and the outlet opening is connected to the inlet of a positive-displacement pump. The outlet of the positive-displacement pump is connected to the inlet of a vacuum chamber that serves to remove water from the food product that was added during the steam infusion.

[0003] The infusion plant uses high temperature for a short time to kill micro-organisms by steam infusion. This technology is widely used in the dairy industry where products can lose their nutritional value, flavor and appearance as micro-organisms multiply. These organisms thrive at certain temperatures but if they are not present in a product, the product can be stored for many months without the need for refrigeration. Steam infusion achieves this objective with minimal heat degradation compared with other UHT processes. It helps protect essential components such as vitamins and results in fresh tasting products with outstanding quality. It provides the necessary kill rate for commercial sterility and can handle a wide product viscosity range - covering fluids from milk, puddings, ice cream, baby food, condensed milk, processed cheese, sauces and creams to lotions.

[0004] In the known infusion plant a cooling jacket is provided around the bottom section of the infusion chamber for minimizing burn-on and fouling. However, fouling is not completely prevented and cleaning and/or rinsing of the infusion chamber is necessary after a given period of operation, depending e.g. on the type of foodstuff. It is though desirable to minimize fouling and to obtain longer running times between cleaning operations and thereby achieve better production efficiency. Also, a more predictable length of run time before cleaning is needed would be desirable. Overall, the market requests more efficient bacteria killing equipment to meet the increasingly demand to produce heat sensitive products like baby foods.

SUMMARY



[0005] It is an object of the invention to provide an infusion plant for ultra-high treatment of fluid foodstuffs with longer and/or more predictable running time between cleaning operations necessitated by fouling or burn-on.

[0006] This object is achieved according to a first aspect of the invention by providing a plant for heat treating heat-sensitive fluid foodstuffs, such as whey protein concentrate, baby food, baby food liquid concentrates, nutritious drinks or cheese milk, the plant comprising: an infusion chamber, in which the fluid foodstuff is subjected to a heat treatment by a feeding of steam, a fluid foodstuff inlet connected to a plurality of openings at the top of the infusion chamber for creating a plurality of essentially downwardly directed separate fluid foodstuff jets, the infusion chamber having a bottom section configured to collect the fluid foodstuff from the fluid foodstuff jets, the bottom section having an outlet opening at the bottom of the infusion chamber for allowing the collected fluid foodstuff to exit the infusion chamber, the outlet opening being seamlessly connected to the inlet of a pump, and a cooling jacket surrounding the bottom section for cooling the bottom section, the cooling jacket extending all the way down to the pump, wherein said outlet is an integral part of said bottom section and wherein said pump housing is integral with said outlet in order to obtain a seamless transition from said bottom section to said pump or wherein the outlet of said bottom section is welded directly to the inlet of said pump housing to form a seamless transition.

[0007] By providing a seamless transition between the bottom section and the pump and by providing cooling around the bottom section and all the way down to the pump fouling and burn-on is reduced and results in longer and safer production time between cleanings, which significantly increases production efficiency of the infusion heat treatment plant.

[0008] In a first possible implementation form of the first aspect the pump comprises a pump housing and the cooling jacket extends into the pump housing.

[0009] In a fourth possible implementation form of the first aspect the bottom section has steel walls that are welded to an upwardly projecting flange or ridge of the pump housing.

[0010] In a fifth possible implementation form of the first aspect the plant further comprising a feed conduit for feeding cooling fluid to the cooling jacket and a return conduit for returning cooling fluid from the cooling jacket, a portion of the feed conduit extending through the pump housing and connecting to the cooling jacket at a location inside the pump housing.

[0011] In a sixth possible implementation form of the first aspect the pump is a positive displacement pump, preferably a gear pump or a lobe pump.

[0012] In a seventh possible implementation form of the first aspect the pump is a centrifugal pump.

[0013] In an eighth possible implementation form of the first aspect the bottom section is releasably connected to the upper section, e.g. by a flanged connection.

[0014] The foregoing and other objects are achieved by the features of the independent claims. Further implementation forms are apparent from the dependent claims, the description and the figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0015] In the following detailed portion of the present disclosure, the invention will be explained in more detail with reference to the example embodiments shown in the drawings, in which:

Fig. 1 is a diagrammatic view of an ultra-high temperature treatment plant,

Fig. 2 is a sectional view of an infusion plant according to an example embodiment,

Fig. 3 is an initial image taken by a camera of the infusion plant of Fig. 2,

Fig. 4 is an image taken by a camera of the infusion plant of Fig. 2 after a running time, and

Fig. 5 is a flow chart illustrating an example embodiment of a method for using an optical digital camera with an infusion plant.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0016] Fig. 1 discloses a plant for ultra-high temperature treatment of liquid foodstuff. The liquid foodstuff can be any foodstuff in liquid form, but the disclosed plant is particularly useful for temperature sensitive foodstuffs that should be heated for killing bacteria for a short period only so as to preserve their flavor, consistency and nutritious qualities. Examples of such liquid foodstuffs are milk, baby food liquid, baby food liquid concentrate or nutritional drinks (with high protein content). The liquid foodstuff may have a high dry matter content (40% and higher) and/or high protein content (6% or higher).

[0017] The plant of Fig. 1 has an infusion chamber 1 of a conventionally known type. The infusion chamber 1 is connected to a tube 2 for feeding fluid foodstuff to be heat treated inside the infusion chamber 1, and a tube 3 for the feeding of steam. Finally, the infusion chamber is connected to tubes 4 and 5 for feeding and removing liquid for cooling the bottom of the infusion chamber 1. In an embodiment the cooling liquid is water. The outlet of the infusion chamber 1 directly connected with a pump 6. In an embodiment the pump 6 is a centrifugal pump. In another embodiment the pump 6 is a positive displacement pump, such as a lobe or gear pump. The outlet of the pump 6 is connected to the inlet of a vacuum chamber 10 of a conventionally known type through a tube 9. This vacuum chamber is adapted to remove the amount of water being supplied in form of steam in the infusion chamber through a tube 11, whereas the concentrated fluid foodstuff is drained off through a tube 12 and a pump 13 in a conventionally known manner.

[0018] Fig. 2 is a diagrammatic sectional view of the infusion chamber. The infusion chamber is preferably essentially rotation symmetrical around a vertical axis. The upper section 30 of the infusion chamber has a hollow cylindrical part and a top part that is shaped similar to a conical frustum. A bottom section 32 is releasably connected to the upper section 30 by a flanged connection 34 for allowing access to the interior of the infusion chamber 1 for cleaning and/or maintenance. The bottom section 32 has in an embodiment a shape similar to a conical frustum. At the lower end of the infusion chamber there is an outlet opening 19 that is directly connected to the inlet of a lobe pump 6.

[0019] The fluid foodstuff to be treated is carried through the tube 2 into the infusion chamber 1. The fluid foodstuff enters the infusion chamber 1 as a bundle 7 of separate liquid foodstuff jets through a plurality of openings in a nozzle at the top of the infusion chamber 1. Hot steam is injected into the infusion chamber 1 through a circumferential steam distribution chamber in a well-known manner. In the infusion chamber 1 the liquid foodstuff jets meet the hot steam and the foodstuff is thereby heated and absorbs the steam.

[0020] The liquid foodstuff jets end on the funnel shaped inner wall of the bottom section 32. The bottom section 32 collects the liquid foodstuff from the liquid foodstuff jets and guides it to the outlet opening 19 at the lower end of the infusion chamber 1 (which is also the lower end of the bottom section 32 and which is also the inlet of the pump 6).

[0021] A cooling jacket 15 is provided around the bottom section 32. The cooling jacket 15 keeps the bottom section 32 cool, to prevent or minimize the liquid foodstuff that gets into contact with the inner walls of the bottom section 32 to foul or burn-on. The cooling jacket 15 provides for a mantle of cooling water or other cooling medium around the bottom section 32. The mantle is divided by a spiral traverse wall 17 that guides the cooling water in a spiral pattern around the bottom section 32. The inlet of the cooling water 4 passes though the pump housing and into a portion 29 of the mantle that extends also into the pump housing. From the portion 29 internal to the pump housing the spiral path of the cooling water continues spirally upwards towards the cooling medium outlet 5 at the top of the cooling jacket 15 and near the top of the bottom section 32.

[0022] The lower portion of the bottom section 32 forms the outlet opening 19 of the chamber that connects seamlessly to the inlet of the pump 6. This is in an embodiment achieved by the lower end of the bottom section 32 being made from steel plates, preferably stainless steel, and connected to the pump housing by welds 18. In an embodiment the pump housing is provided with a circular ridge or circular upright flange that facilitates welding of the pump housing to the lower end of the bottom section 32. After welding the transition between the bottom section 32 and the pump housing/pump inlet formed by the welds 18 is machined to provide a perfectly smooth surface without and cracks or fissures that could be difficult to clean or rinse.

[0023] The gear or lobe pump 6 is of a conventionally known type and is connected to the outlet 19 of the infusion chamber 1, and the housing of the gear or lobe pump 6 is provided with a temperature sensor 16 at a location where the adjacent surface is kept clean of burnings by means of the teeth of the gear wheels or by the lobes of the rotors 8. In this manner it is possible to ensure a reliable control of the plant.

[0024] In an example embodiment an optical camera 20, preferably a digital optical camera) is mounted on the infusion chamber 1 with an angle of view 21 covering at least a portion of the bottom section 32 so that an operator or a processor configured therefore can determine that fouling has occurred (or not) and cleaning needs to be performed (or not). The optical camera 20 is preferably mounted at or near top of the infusion chamber 1, pointing downwards towards the bottom section 32. The wall of the infusion chamber is in an embodiment provided with a sight glass 23 for allowing the optical camera 20 to view into the infusion chamber 1.

[0025] The sight glass 23 is preferably at least on its inner side facing the interior of the infusion chamber 1 provided with a coating to prevent formation of water droplets on the inner side.

[0026] In an embodiment, images from the optical camera 20 are processed by a processor (not shown) that is configured to detect changes in the image. The processor is further configured to issue a notification or alarm when it has determined that the image taken by the camera 20 has changed relative to an initial image taken shortly after the start of a production run.

[0027] Another optical camera 25 (preferably a digital optical camera) is mounted on the infusion chamber 1 with an angle of view 26 covering at least a portion of the bundle 7 of fluid foodstuff jets.

[0028] The optical camera 25 can be mounted at or near the bottom of the infusion chamber 1, pointing upwards towards the upper section 30.

[0029] The invention has been described in conjunction with various embodiments herein. However, other variations to the disclosed embodiments can be understood and effected by those skilled in the art in practicing the claimed invention, from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the appended claims. In the claims, the word "comprising" does not exclude other elements or steps, and the indefinite article "a" or "an" does not exclude a plurality. A single processor or other unit may fulfill the functions of several items recited in the claims. The reference signs used in the claims shall not be construed as limiting the scope. The mere fact that certain measures are recited in mutually different dependent claims does not indicate that a combination of these measured cannot be used to advantage. The reference signs used in the claims shall not be construed as limiting the scope.


Claims

1. A plant for heat treating heat-sensitive fluid foodstuffs, such as whey protein concentrate, baby food, baby food liquid concentrates, nutritious drinks or cheese milk, said plant comprising:

an infusion chamber (1), in which the fluid foodstuff is subjected to a heat treatment by a feeding of steam,

a fluid foodstuff inlet (2) connected to a plurality of openings at the top of said infusion chamber for creating a plurality of essentially downwardly directed separate fluid foodstuff jets (7),

said infusion chamber having a bottom section (32) configured to collect the fluid foodstuff from said fluid foodstuff jets,

said bottom section having an outlet opening (19) at the bottom of said infusion chamber for allowing said collected fluid foodstuff to exit said infusion chamber,

said outlet opening being seamlessly connected to the inlet of a pump (6), and

a cooling jacket (15) surrounding said bottom section for cooling said bottom section, said cooling jacket extending all the way down to said pump,

wherein said outlet (19) is an integral part of said bottom section (32) and wherein said pump housing is integral with said outlet (19) in order to obtain a seamless transition from said bottom section (32) to said pump (6) or

wherein the outlet (19) of said bottom section (32) is welded directly to the inlet of said pump housing to form a seamless transition.


 
2. A plant according to claim 1, wherein said pump (6) comprises a pump housing and wherein said cooling jacket (15) extends into said pump housing.
 
3. A plant according to claim 1, wherein said bottom section (32) has steel walls that are welded to an upwardly projecting flange or ridge of said pump housing.
 
4. A plant according to any one of claims 1 to 3, further comprising a feed conduit (4) for feeding cooling fluid to said cooling jacket and a return conduit (5) for returning cooling fluid from said cooling jacket (15), a portion of said feed conduit extending through said pump housing and connecting to said cooling jacket at a location inside said pump housing.
 
5. A plant according to any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein said pump (6) is a positive displacement pump, preferably a gear pump or a lobe pump.
 
6. A plant according to any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein said pump (6) is a centrifugal pump.
 
7. A plant according to any one of claims 1 to 6, wherein said bottom section is releasably connected to said upper section.
 


Ansprüche

1. Anlage zur Wärmebehandlung wärmeempfindlicher flüssiger Nahrungsmittel, wie Molkeproteinkonzentrat, Babynahrung, flüssige Babynahrungskonzentrate, nahrhafte Getränke oder Käsemilch, wobei die Anlage umfasst:

eine Infusionskammer (1), in der das flüssige Lebensmittel einer Wärmebehandlung durch Zufuhr von Dampf unterzogen wird,

einen Einlass (2) für flüssige Nahrungsmittel, der mit einer Vielzahl von Öffnungen an der Oberseite der Infusionskammer verbunden ist, um eine Vielzahl von im Wesentlichen nach unten gerichteten, getrennten, flüssigen Nahrungsmittelstrahlen (7) zu erzeugen,

wobei die Infusionskammer einen Bodenabschnitt (32) aufweist, der dafür ausgelegt ist, die flüssigen Nahrungsmittel von den Düsen für die flüssigen Nahrungsmittel aufzufangen,

wobei der Bodenabschnitt eine Auslassöffnung (19) am Boden der Infusionskammer aufweist, damit das gesammelte flüssige Nahrungsmittel die Infusionskammer verlassen kann,

wobei die Auslassöffnung nahtlos mit dem Einlass einer Pumpe (6) verbunden ist, und

einen Kühlmantel (15), der den unteren Abschnitt umgibt, um den unteren Abschnitt zu kühlen, wobei sich der Kühlmantel bis hinunter zur Pumpe erstreckt,

wobei der Auslass (19) ein integraler Teil des Bodenabschnitts (32) ist und wobei das Pumpengehäuse ein integraler Bestandteil des Auslasses (19) ist, um einen nahtlosen Übergang vom Bodenabschnitt (32) zur Pumpe (6) zu erhalten, oder

wobei der Auslass (19) des Bodenabschnitts (32) direkt mit dem Einlass des Pumpengehäuses verschweißt ist, um einen nahtlosen Übergang zu bilden.


 
2. Anlage nach Anspruch 1, wobei die Pumpe (6) ein Pumpengehäuse aufweist und wobei sich der Kühlmantel (15) in das Pumpengehäuse erstreckt.
 
3. A plant according to claim 1, wherein said bottom section (32) has steel walls that are welded to an upwardly projecting flange or ridge of said pump housing.
 
4. Anlage nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, ferner mit einer Zufuhrleitung (4) zum Zuführen von Kühlfluid zum Kühlmantel und einer Rückführleitung (5) zum Rückführen von Kühlfluid aus dem Kühlmantel (15) versehen, wobei sich ein Teil der Zufuhrleitung durch das Pumpengehäuse erstreckt und mit dem Kühlmantel an einer Stelle innerhalb des Pumpengehäuses verbunden ist.
 
5. Anlage nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei die Pumpe (6) eine Verdrängerpumpe, vorzugsweise eine Zahnradpumpe oder eine Drehkolbenpumpe, ist.
 
6. Anlage nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei die Pumpe (6) eine Kreiselpumpe ist.
 
7. Anlage nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 6, wobei der untere Abschnitt lösbar mit dem oberen Abschnitt verbunden ist.
 


Revendications

1. Installation destinée au traitement thermique des denrées alimentaires fluides sensibles à la chaleur, telles que le concentré de protéines de lactosérum, les aliments pour bébés, les concentrés liquides d'aliments pour bébés, les boissons nutritives ou le lait de fromagerie, ladite installation comprenant :

une chambre d'infusion (1), dans laquelle le produit alimentaire liquide est soumis à un traitement thermique au moyen d'une alimentation de vapeur,

une entrée de produit alimentaire liquide (2) reliée à une pluralité d'ouvertures au niveau de la partie supérieure de ladite chambre d'infusion destinée à la création d'une pluralité de jets de produits alimentaires liquides séparés essentiellement dirigés vers le bas (7),

ladite chambre d'infusion comportant une section inférieure (32) conçue pour recueillir le produit alimentaire liquide à partir desdits jets de produits alimentaires liquides,

ladite section inférieure comportant une ouverture de sortie (19) au niveau de la partie inférieure de ladite chambre d'infusion pour permettre audit produit alimentaire liquide recueilli de sortir de ladite chambre d'infusion,

ladite ouverture de sortie étant reliée sans soudure à l'entrée d'une pompe (6), et

une chemise de refroidissement (15) entourant ladite section inférieure destinée au refroidissement de ladite section inférieure, ladite chemise de refroidissement s'étendant vers le bas tout le long de ladite pompe,

dans laquelle ladite sortie (19) constitue une partie intégrale de ladite section inférieure (32) et dans laquelle ledit boîtier de pompe fait partie intégrante de ladite sortie (19) de façon à obtenir une transition sans soudure de ladite section inférieure (32) à ladite pompe (6) ou

dans laquelle la sortie (19) de ladite section inférieure (32) est directement soudée à l'entrée dudit boîtier de pompe afin de former une transition sans soudure.


 
2. Installation selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle ladite pompe (6) comprend un boîtier de pompe et dans laquelle ladite chemise de refroidissement (15) s'étend dans ledit boîtier de pompe.
 
3. Installation selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle ladite section inférieure (32) comporte des parois en acier qui sont soudées à une bride ou une arête faisant saillie vers le haut dudit boîtier de pompe.
 
4. Installation selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, comprenant en outre une conduite d'alimentation (4) destinée à l'alimentation de fluide de refroidissement à ladite chemise de refroidissement et un conduit de retour (5) permettant de retourner le fluide refroidissement provenant de ladite chemise de refroidissement (15), une partie de ladite conduite d'alimentation s'étendant à travers ledit boîtier de pompe et se reliant à ladite chemise de refroidissement au niveau d'un emplacement situé à l'intérieur dudit boîtier de pompe.
 
5. Installation selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans laquelle ladite pompe (6) est une pompe à déplacement positif, de préférence une pompe à engrenage ou une pompe à lobes.
 
6. Installation selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans laquelle ladite pompe (6) est une pompe centrifuge.
 
7. Installation selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 6, dans laquelle ladite section inférieure est reliée de manière libérable à ladite section supérieure.
 




Drawing











Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description