Tetra Pak unveiled its new Tetra Therm Aseptic Sensa at the Drinktec 2005 expo in Germany. The firm says the new processor can halve production costs and slice a quarter off production time compared to conventional juice processing.
The new Sensa processor uses Tetra Pak's newly patented Rapid Heating and Cooling technology (RHAC), which manages to both pasteurise the juice concentrate and continuously blend this concentrate with cold aseptic water to produce the end product.
Tetra Pak, which now has 19 research and development centres worldwide, said the machine's multi-tasking meant that producers could save on labour and space costs too.
The rapid heating system also enables more flavours, vitamins and aromas to survive the pasteurisation process and make it through to the finished juice. RHAC heats and cools the concentrate in around a fifth of the time of a standard tubular heat exchanger.
Bert-Ove Bergman, Tetra Pak's director of innovation and industrialisation, called RHAC "a major breakthrough in pasteurisation". Heating up a beverage is seen as necessary to kill harmful bacteria, but also means vitamins and flavours are lost too.
Tetra Pak's new Aseptic Sensa has already been used by customers in Spain, Greece and Kazakhstan.
Paul Wirtz, managing director for Tetra Pak's dairy and beverage business unit, told BeverageDaily.com that some of these customers were now looking at buying more.
He said the new processor had reached a plateau after an initial burst of enthusiasm, where people were waiting to see how it performed before jumping in.
Wirtz also said that he did not expect increasing consumer demand for not-from-concentrate juices to cause the new Aseptic Sensa problems, despite being designed to process juice from concentrate.
He said basic economics meant it was not feasible for everyone to drink not-from-concentrate juice, because of a lack of fruit. It would not be practical for some firms to import fruits in the quantities needed and over the distances required.
How the Tetra Therm Aseptic Sensa works
Steam is injected directly into the juice concentrate, instantly hitting pasteurisation temperature (about 90 degrees C). Sterile cold water is then added further down the line to cool the juice as well as blend it into the final product.
The blend is then fed once through an aseptic buffer vessel and on to a filling machine.
Tetra Pak also claims the processor can perform easy product changes due to the continuous blending leaving only a small hold-up volume.
A short stoppage at the filler end is also workable, said the firm. The juice can be held be held in an aseptic state without affecting quality.
The machine has a capacity range of 3,000 litres per hour (l/h) to 9,000l/h.