New leakage valve from GEA boosts safety of ESL production

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GEA
Pic: GEA

Related tags Gea Valve Dairy

GEA is expanding its valve portfolio with the GEA Aseptomag LV leakage valve.

The mixproof double-seat valve is designed for manufacturers of foods and beverages, as well as pharmaceutical products, who maintain high safety standards in their UltraClean process lines.

Typical examples are products with an extended shelf life (ESL) such as soft drinks, fruit juices and milk-based and lactic acid fermented products, along with plant-based alternatives sold chilled by retailers. Focusing on equipment flexibility, the design features significantly mitigate the risk of contamination in this hygiene class. In addition, products become more durable – with less preservatives.

“Sensitivity to the issues of product and process safety in the food market is intensifying,”​ said Pascal Bär, senior director product management & engineering, aseptic valve, GEA.

GEA said plant operators are trying to minimize allergen carry-over and contamination — and the ensuing product recalls. Accordingly, configuring valves to match the application is a key process planning step, as they are located at the neuralgic interfaces of industrial manufacturing.

“Any time they have to decide on a valve environment, plant operators need to weigh up risks carefully. How reliably must I be able to prevent any potential microbial load — and what do I have to lay out for this? As designers of process components, it’s up to us to provide customers with workable solutions like the GEA Aseptomag LV UltraClean valve that work just right with their products and processes without being over-engineered,”​ Bär said.

The new leakage valve closes the gap in GEA’s valve portfolio between media that need to be processed hygienically and those where a consistently aseptic process is called for. The former applies to applications with lower microbial risk, and the latter to sensitive products used as for medical and infant feeding purposes.

“Most customers create products that are at the second-highest hygiene level, ‘UltraClean’. These products carry a greater hygiene risk than classic hygienic applications, but they still have no need for the high-end version of a complete aseptic process chain,”​ Bär said.

This means for ESL products, like fruit yogurt and ESL milk, where completely aseptic processes are not used, the area between the two valve seats no longer has to be designed as a sterile chamber. The valve’s features also make it suitable for processes with similar requirements outside the food industry. One example is the production of aseptic water for injection (WFI) in the pharmaceutical industry.

Like the entire GEA Aseptomag range, the new LV valve uses stainless steel bellows. These block microorganisms from being drawn into the product chamber, which keeps the process and the product safe. With hermetically sealing valve stems, bellows valves achieve a higher hygienic standard, which makes for better product quality and a longer minimum shelf-life.

“We've found an ideal combination of technical safety and cost-effectiveness with Aseptomag LV. The operating costs over the entire service life of the valve were already taken into account during development,”​ said Bär.

Thanks to its dimensions, the compact double-seat valve for ESL processes takes up less space and is easier to install and maintain than aseptic alternatives, GEA said. Technical features like the backstroke barrier can be retrofitted without the need to replace the actuator or other existing equipment.

Related topics Processing & packaging