Innocent’s carbon-neutral Netherlands-based factory poised to boost chilled juice drinks production
02 Nov 2021 --- Innocent is set to produce its smoothies and juices from a factory sporting carbon-neutral process technology. The facility, lauded as a world-first, is being built by the company’s project partner, GEA, and will open next spring.
The facility, located at Rotterdam Food Hub in the Netherlands, is expected to produce 300 million liters of chilled juice drinks and smoothies annually.
Stefan Klebert, CEO of GEA says, the companies have pushed the envelope beyond standard beverage production practice.
“Not only have we integrated the most resource-efficient technologies, we have also entirely rethought the processes and the heating and refrigeration systems,” says Klebert.
Reducing future energy consumption
GEA’s manufacturing and refrigeration technology used at the new facility is designed to significantly reduce Innocent’s energy consumption and by extension its carbon footprint.
Water used for pasteurization will be heated using waste heat from the refrigeration plant. GEA’s heat pump will recover waste heat from the refrigeration systems and reuse it in other process steps.
Two separate heating circuits will be used and Innocent will only cool juices where necessary, which improves energy efficiency by about 4%.
Pasteurization temperatures will be lowered from 95°C to 90°C to improve the energy balance by 3%, allowing for a heat pump to be fitted to thaw frozen juices with warm water instead of steam.
The company applied the sustainable energy solutions (SEnS) approach, which factors heating and cooling requirements into the systems at the planning stage, instead of after “when corrections are virtually no longer possible.”
Andy Joynson, chief blender and site director at Innocent says: “Food and beverage manufacturers can choose to base their future plant designs on our model. We want to inspire and support a broad-based transformation. In line with that, we are consciously inviting the industry to share in our findings – and at the same time to learn from our missteps and our successes.”
Water consumption and waste generation
The two companies have factored in several methods to reduce water consumption at the new facility.
For example, lemon juice rather than water will be used as a natural seal flushing liquid, as the low pH value prevents bacterial growth.
GEA has also developed an automated clean-in-place system that minimizes the required cleaning surface area and incorporates technology to clean pipes with air instead of water. The technology allows Innocent to recover 98% of the juice from the process piping.
Edited by Inga de Jong
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