Plant-based milk substitutes and high-protein shakes are two of the fastest growing segments in the global beverage market driven by their perceived health and environmental benefits. But pasteurizing these beverages using traditional methods can be a challenge, with in-system clogging often resulting in product losses and production delays.
JBT’s coil-based Sterideal® HX SteriCompact UHT Sterilizer offers a means of benefitting from a huge – and growing – market, while also being able to adapt quickly as consumer tastes develop. More importantly, the solution overcomes many of the problems associated with conventional heat exchangers that can result in unnecessary wastage and downtime.
For processors looking to enter the high-protein or plant-based beverage markets, the prospects on paper appear very attractive. According to market researcher Report Linker, the global plant-based beverage market is expected to be worth more than $48 billion by 2028. Although smaller is size, the high-protein drinks market is also forecast to reach a total worth of $2.26 billion by 2028 from an expected $1.56 billion in 2023 (Mordor Intelligence).
However, traditional heat exchangers used for pasteurizing or sterilizing plant-based and high-protein beverages present some significant challenges for processors.
Typically constructed from lengthy 3m-6m long pipes joined together with ‘elbows’, conventional heat exchangers not only occupy a considerable amount of floorspace, they are prone to clogging or ‘dead spots’, which can lead to a loss of product and production time, and increased utility consumption. Such situations can also create an ascetic risk, which can be expensive to deal with.
Here’s a few of the key advantages offered by the Sterideal. The absence of sharp bends, couplings and o-rings on the JBT Sterideal HX SteriCompact UHT Sterilizer (pictured below) substantially assists fluid circulation, while the system’s ingenious coil design helps prevent clustering and other kinds of flow resistance.
Thanks to the coil design, processors are also able to save on energy costs compared to traditional heat exchangers. In addition, the Sterideal’s design ensures low maintenance costs over the entire lifespan, plus its small footprint reduces floorspace requirements. More than this, the system’s proven technology optimizes the taste and shelf-life of end products.
Developed for pasteurizing and sterilizing dairy products, juices and higher viscosity products, the Sterideal offers flexibility that can be customized according to customer needs, according to JBT senior process specialist, William Kaandorp. “This flexibility means customers can handle all kinds of different products with the Sterideal,” he says.
“The drinks market is rapidly evolving: you can see high-protein or plant-based drinks among a huge range of other types of beverages. Although the environment and health are important, the segment is very much driven by marketing, and as a result the products change. Different products need different forms of processing, so it’s very important to have a flexible machine.”
The design advantage
But why is a coil better than straight pipes when used for pasteurization or sterilization?
Juan Martinez, JBT’s Global Product Line Director for Aseptic Systems, explains: “The Sterideal coil is a continuous heat exchanger with no connection points, which we can build to any length that is needed – it doesn’t matter if they are hundreds of meters long, we just coil it, and the interconnection points are very small in the system.”
In a traditional heat exchanger, Martinez continues, processing has to be halted at regular intervals to allow for cleaning in order to clear or prevent blockages. Such stoppages often mean substantial downtime. Manual disassembling is also, he adds, expensive and labor intensive.
Such blockages are not only avoided by virtue of the Sterideal’s coil design, but also as a result of an internal detection function that identifies any potential issues before they become problems.