Condensation on piping is a significant risk in dairy operations as it introduces the chance for mold and bacteria to grow, which creates a potential cross-contamination problem when it could spread to other critical areas in the plant.
When condensation was identified recently as an issue for Kamataka Milk Producers Federation Ltd (KMF), the leading Indian dairy cooperative solved the problems using Zotefoams’ high-performance T-FIT insulation. The installation of T-FIT Process and T-FIT Hygiene solutions has greatly reduced the risk from condensation and decreased ongoing maintenance costs while delivering significant energy savings.
KMF is India’s second-largest dairy cooperative and, through its ‘Nandini’ brand, a market-leader in fresh and pasteurized milk products, including ice cream. Maintaining product quality is critical, so when an external compliance audit by the India Food Safety and Standards Authority noted an issue with the existing insulation, KMF acted quickly. The traditional polyurethane foam and nitrile rubber pipe insulation was showing signs of wear in the form of cracks from thermal fatigue, allowing condensation ingress and thus the possibility of bacterial and fungal growth and possible cross-contamination.
Condensation a common problem
Condensation is common in chilled and frozen-food production, where both seasonal temperatures and production flow vary. Cold pipework is particularly susceptible to condensation if the temperature at the pipe’s surface falls below the dew point of its environment, resulting in condensed water droplets that can transfer various impurities into the production process.
For KMF, a particular challenge was posed by regular changes in line temperature, between -5°C (23°F)—during ice cream production—and a peak of 90°C (194°F) during steam and clean-in-place (CIP) procedures. This was causing energy losses under both chilled and hot operating conditions. In addition, lye formation on the surface of tubes was also noticeable after CIP, and the overall result was KMF personnel having to work hard to maintain the rigorous quality standards necessary.
Custom-designed insulation for demanding environments
KMF worked closely with the T-FIT team in India to replace the existing insulation with T-FIT Hygiene and T-FIT Process technical insulation. Specifically designed to target specific challenges in the most demanding, highly controlled production environments, Hygiene and Process insulation products are manufactured from Zotefoams’ ZOTEK® high-performance foams, with Hygiene produced from ZOTEK F (a fine, closed-cell PVDF foam) and Process from ZOTEK N (a tough nylon foam).
The supplier’s proprietary three-stage manufacturing process delivers several in-use performance benefits, including ease of cleaning, immunity to most chemicals, a wide operating temperature range, excellent flammability credentials, and UV-resistance. Because all T-FIT products are also guaranteed to be particulate-free, installation can take place during production, with no need for PPE or special containment requirements such as tents or hoods.
T-FIT Hygiene, which is tailored to aseptic applications, and food processing in particular, was retrofitted to the chiller and ice cream filling lines to prevent condensation forming. T-FIT Process, designed for process areas demanding heat-tolerant insulation, was applied to the steam and CIP lines. Stable up to 200°C (EN14707), T-FIT Process withstands the temperature spikes that occur when pipes are steam-flushed to prevent contamination.
As well as solving the condensation problems at KMF, T-FIT Hygiene and T-FIT Process have delivered other major benefits compared to the previous polyurethane foam and nitrile rubber pipe insulation. T-FIT is far more durable, easier to maintain and has resulted in significant reductions in combined heat loss—by 96% on a 3-inch CIP line and 80% on a 2.5-inch chiller line. Over a year, these reductions add up to big savings in energy consumption.
For more information, contact Zotefoams at www.zotefoams.com. Zotefoams has manufacturing facilities in London UK, Walton, Kentucky and Poland.