Cleaning PET bottles without water
By Barry Copping
Posted 2 August 2012
Integrated production line from Sidel suits aseptic bottling of any kind of beverage
PRW looks at contrasting ways of slashing water consumption while maintaining cleanliness.
Meech’s ionised air rinsing
by Adam Battrick, business unit director for cleaning systems with Meech International
Pre-fill rinse systems, often used to remove dust, fibres or larger debris from finished blow moulded products, can be voracious consumers of water. One well known beverage company is reported to use 2.43 litres to create a 1 litre end product equivalent to 59% waste water for each bottle. The alternative cleaning method of ionised air rinsing can deliver significant savings in water consumption for blow moulding operations.
The use of water during manufacturing has come under increasing attention recently. Water is an increasingly scarce resource. The United Nations predicts that by 2030 almost 50% of the world’s population will live in areas of high water stress, and by the same date the European Commission expects annual water usage in the EU to rise by 43%.
Today’s consumers are increasingly responsible in their attitude to the environment. To meet their demand for environmentally friendly packaging, brand owners and packaging companies have to place sustainability at the heart of their production planning.
Ionised compressed air systems inject a jet of ionised air into the bottle to neutralise any static electrical charge on its inner surface. Contaminants are released and simply fall out of the inverted container. However, there are still some drawbacks. In the first place, because contaminants are commonly released into the atmosphere, re-contamination is possible. Secondly, air compression consumes expensive energy.
To resolve these issues, Meech International has launched its IonRinse system. Instead of using compressed air, IonRinse is a fan-driven system combining powerful AC ionisation, a custom-designed airflow distributor and high-quality inline filtration. Delivered at a high velocity, filtered ionised air exits the IonRinse head unit via an airflow distributor and enters the container. The accurately controlled airflow, coupled with the neutralisation of static charges, releases contaminants from the container’s inner walls. Contaminants are caught immediately by a vacuum airflow and extracted to an inline high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration system, capable of capturing 99.99% of particles of size 0.3 micron. To maximise cleaning performance containers are fully inverted (opening facing down) as they pass over the IonRinse head.
Because different containers require different airflow characteristics to achieve maximum rinsing performance, air flow and velocity are fully adjustable to allow accurate set-up for each application.
IonRinse’s all-in-one blow, vacuum and filter unit is designed to make installation and set-up as simple as possible. The incorporation of contacts for automatic start and stop allows the system to run in series with the production line, reducing energy consumption even further. Parameters such as filter condition and ionisation status are monitored via LED displays. The air inlet and vacuum feeds can be connected to either end of the head unit, and a drop-down access panel makes maintenance particularly straightforward – the ionising bars simply drop out of the head unit mounted on the panel.
Sidel’s peroxide decontamination
Swiss PET packaging solutions provider Sidel has introduced a high-speed version of its Combi Predis FMa bottle production system, dedicated to single-portion bottles.
Sidel has refined its aseptic beverage filling technology to meet what it claims is a growing demand for filling isotonics, fruit juices, nectars and teas. The high-speed system is capable of handling up to 48,000 bottles of up to 700 millilitres capacity per hour. According to the company, the new system with dry decontamination “is the ideal solution for markets that require high output and for countries where water resources are scarce.”
The Predis technology replaces bottle rinsing by dry preform decontamination using hydrogen peroxide. Sidel cites it as suitable for aseptic bottling of any kind of beverage, whether low- or high-acid, including carbonated soft drinks without preservatives, liquid dairy products and UHT milk. No water is required and no effluent is created, says Sidel, saving the 250 cubic meters of water and 200 litres of chemicals used daily on a traditional aseptic bottling line.
The company also claims a reduction of 30% in annual operating costs as compared with conventional dry bottle decontamination. Since bottles are blown from decontaminated preforms, the empty bottle does not endure any thermal stress, according to Sidel, and can be given any shape and design.
The Combi Predis Fma combines bottle blow moulding, filling and capping in a single system. Quick and easy bottle configuration and beverage changeovers are possible, says Sidel, and non-stop production runs of up to 120 hours are attainable.
Predis aseptic filling technology has been adopted worldwide since 2006, according to the company, with over 60 dry preform decontamination systems sold to date. More than five billion bottles are claimed to have been produced with Predis.
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