"We must reduce costs and use raw materials sustainably," begins Marinus de Bruijn, Sales Director at FoodeQ. This Dutch company specializes in vibration technology and processing for the food processing sector. It developed the Aura® oil recovery system, aimed explicitly at fried potato product production. "The french fry industry often works with long-term contracts with fixed fries' prices. So, if energy or raw materials costs rise, a margin for that must be included. That can be done by, for example, optimizing the processing line."
The Aura® is placed directly behind the fryer. It dramatically reduces the oil sticking to the fried potato products and ensures it can be recovered and reused through recovery, says Marinus. He explains that hot air flows over the product and is extracted at high speed which carries away the sticky oil droplets.
"The air then passes through cyclone separates where gravity pushes the oil to the edge. The filter system collects and pumps it back into the fryer," explains Marinus, adding that the system is designed to extract the air in several places. "The Aura® thus achieves the highest result in reducing the adhering oil."
That means FoodeQ sees a return on investment in no time. "We've measured results of more than 2.5+ % oil recovery. That and the high volumes processed in the chip sector generate a high payback. Depending on potato and oil prices, ROI is achieved well within a year," Martinus points out. Besides cost reduction, he notes the process has a sustainability aspect, too. Since the oil is recovered and reused, much less is wasted.
FoodeQ installs the oil recovery system in the line, ensures that everything connects and is fed correctly
De Bruijn considers the time it takes to clean the production line as another immediate payback. That is much reduced because removing the sticky oil means less contamination. "If you don't remove the oil, it gets carried into the rest of the line from the fryer. That hugely contaminates both the cooling/freezing tunnel and the distribution system behind the tunnel."
This oil recovery system takes care of the smell and the very fine mist of greasy air, which heats up the production site - that is unwanted - and, via precipitation, causes pollution. "The Aura® and fryer are integrated, so very little greasy air escapes," says Marinus.
The same goes for crumbs and batter residue, which Marinus sees is increasingly used in the French fries sector. "The system has automatic valves that open periodically, draining the contamination from the unit.” That is important, he says, because air, combustible dust, and heat are combined in the apparatus. "That's a fire hazard, and we've done extensive research on how to deal with that properly," Marinus adds.
While he thinks oil recovery systems will become standard in new fries lines, the sales director points out that you can incorporate an Aura® into almost any existing line. FoodeQ focuses on the entire process between the fryer and weighers, including vibrators that spread the product, freezers, distribution, and transport.
Connecting and feeding
"Customers want to be unburdened. Increasingly, they lack technical staff and project managers to oversee a particular part of the processing process. Every transition in the processing line carries a risk. The more of a line a supplier takes care of, the smaller the risk to the client." That is why FoodeQ focuses on more of the process than just the oil recovery system. "We tackle projects from the fryer to the weighers; customers don't have to worry about that. That's our responsibility; we ensure it all fits together and is fed correctly," he concludes.