Chemical steam application for resource-saving cleaning of closed systems in the food industry

Workgroup: Hygienic production

Research Partner and Scientific Guidance:

  1. Fraunhofer-Institut für Verfahrenstechnik und Verpackung IVV Dresden, Siegried Beckmann

Financing: IVLV e. V.
Runtime: until 31.03.2023

In the food industry, equipment and machinery are cleaned regularly to ensure food safety and quality. In this context, the use of chemicals must be reduced to a minimum by optimizing cleaning processes and using new technologies. Especially the cleaning of vessels with large volumes using spray cleaning systems such as spray balls, single-axis rotary cleaners or orbital cleaners requires a large amount of water, chemicals, and energy. During these cleaning processes, only a small percentage of the cleaning chemicals used comes into direct contact with the soiling and develops its chemical effect. The remaining part drains off unused. An alternative approach to reducing the amount of chemicals used is to use wet steam as a transport medium for cleaning chemicals. For this purpose, it is injected in small quantities into the generated steam. This creates a fluid with a large volume but low mass that is ideal for completely flooding large-volume vessels or complex piping to initiate the structurally damaging chemical process and remove the soiling from the surfaces. Afterwards, the dissolved soiling can be rinsed off with water without the use of chemicals.

The objective of this IVLV project is to quantify the impact of various chemicals injected into wet steam on mineral and organic fouling/deposits by considering the following processes that affect the cleaning process:

  1. swelling and dissolving behavior,
  2. resulting binding forces after steam application and
  3. cleaning behavior after steam application

compared to conventional liquid cleaners and wet steam without chemical additives. Furthermore, the derivation of R&D needs for broad application in the cleaning of closed systems will be investigated. The factors energy consumption, environmental aspects (use of cleaning chemicals), as well as acquisition and operating costs are included in the evaluation.

These preliminary investigations provide initial results on the feasibility of this project. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would benefit from the reduced use of chemicals, since they often do not own costly CIP facilities with reprocessing units for the used cleaners.