Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Waterless pipe cleaning technology for beverages and dairy manufacturers

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Waterless pipe cleaning technology for beverages and dairy manufacturers
New impetus for a novel technology that uses air instead of water and cleaning agents to clean process pipe work
In Use – The system has been available for nearly a decade, and is already used by a number of manufacturers such as Premier Foods and Princes, but the intellectual property has recently transferred to Aeolus Technologies.

Benefits
Product Waste Reduction, Resource efficiency (e.g. filling line efficiency), Water Usage, Other

Product Categories
Drinks, Food

Relevant Materials
Not Applicable

Relevant Packaging Formats
Not Applicable

Supply Chain Phase
Processing

Details

  

A novel technology that uses air instead of gallons of water and cleaning agents to clean process pipe work has been installed at a new Glenmorangie whisky bottling plant and has been tested by a UK dairy manufacturer
 
The Whirlwind System, developed by Cheshire-based Aeolus Technologies, clears, cleans and dries the inside of pipes in factories using minimal water and no chemicals, and could deliver a payback in nine to 12 months. The business and environmental case comes from reduced water and cleaning bills, reduced effluent charges, product recovery [product recovered from pipes can be used again] and reduced energy bills as no need to heat water to clean pipes.
 
At the end of a production run, manufacturers typically flushed product left in pipes down the drain before using a conventional cleaning in place (CIP) system, which could use thousands of litres of water a year. In contrast, the Whirlwind system uses blowers that supply finely filtered pressurised air or gas into the pipes under the control of a PLC (programmable logic controller), recovering 60-80% of the product inside. A ‘whirlwind’ is then created in the airstream, removing most remaining food still stuck to pipe work. Next a small amount of water or cleaning product is introduced into the airflow, completely clearing the pipes. Finally, heated air is introduced to dry the pipe work.

The system, which is particularly well-suited for wines, whisky and spirits, soft drinks and juices, can clean pumps, valves, filters and heat exchangers used for both heating and cooling.  

Potential Benefits

The environmental benefits are numerous: reduced water consumption, reduced effluent, product recovery [product recovered from pipes can be used again] and reduced energy consumption as the need to heat water to clean pipes is reduced.

Intellectual Property

This system was invented almost a decade ago by Whirlwind Technologies, which went into liquidation last year. However, all of the intellectual property, licensing and manufacturing rights have now been transferred to Aeolus Technologies.

Consultant View

Although this technology has been available for some time, it now has new impetus in the market place, with fresh owners and strong drivers for uptake. According to Peter Chavasse, Aeolus Development manager, the demise of Whirlwind Technologies was not a sign that the business case for the technology did not add up, rather that it was poorly marketed.
 
This is a technology that may be worth revisiting, even for those companies who have previously rejected it.

Contacts and Further Information

Company details:
Aeolus Techologies Ltd
The Harman Training Centre
Ilford Way
Mobberly
Knutsford
Cheshire
WA16 7JL
www.aeolustech.co.uk

Technology contact details:
Peter Chavasse, Aeolus Development manager
Tel:  01565 683909

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