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Aseptic Dual Filling System

By GEA Procomac

GEA Procomac has recently introduced the new Aseptic Dual Filling system, suitable for the bottling of still beverages containing pulps, fibres, fruit and cereals with dimensions up to 10x10x10 mm.

GEA Procomac has recently introduced the new Aseptic Dual Filling system, suitable for the bottling of still beverages containing pulps, fibres, fruit and cereals with dimensions up to 10x10x10 mm or with product density which does not allow consistent distribution of pieces. The peculiarity of the Aseptic Dual Filling system is that the line is composed by two different fillers: the new Aseptic Piston Doser PX for solid particles and the Fillstar FX filler, an industry standard for filling still beverages.

The new Aseptic Piston Doser PX is simple but effective. A cam-driven piston first draws into a cylinder the prescribed volume of solid particles, before injecting it into the awaiting PET bottle. The bottle then moves onto a standard volumetric, electronic filler, the Fillstar FX, to add the liquid juice and complete the aseptic filling process. The Aseptic Dual Filling system requires a 2 stream process line: one dedicated to the thermal treatment of the pieces and the other to the thermal treatment of the clear liquid.

The Aseptic Dual Filling technology can be integrated in both Wet (ECOSpin 2) and Dry (ABF) sterilization systems and it is suitable for both HA and LA beverages.

The preliminary Aseptic Doser design studies started few years ago following the interest shown by different customers towards this kind of technology and the appearance of the first beverages containing large dimension cereals, fruit pieces or aloe vera on the Far East market. The problem was how to fill those new products while maintaining the integrity of the fruit pieces and, as far as possible, their nutritional and organoleptic property?

The answer has been supplied by the Aseptic Piston Doser.

It has proved to be a difficult development as, almost by definition a Piston Doser is not Aseptic as the containers are hot filled, or sterilized by autoclaving. However the early stages of the project had generated considerable interested with customers that were looking for new products, new market spaces and new technologies, such as aseptic filling, to reduce packaging costs.

GEA Procomac built a pilot plant and has run extensive tests using a range of products such as peaches, chestnuts and even walnut kernels, with different carrier liquids of various viscosities. The very important step of sterilisation and cleaning-cycle validation of the machine has been done using this pilot in the presence of the US Process Authority that is guiding the FDA validation path of the machine for the US market.

The development has been a demanding process but it has allowed GEA Procomac to achieve one of its main goals as an innovative company: to realize, in a simple way, something that did not exist before.

At the beginning of May 2013 the first aseptic machine equipped with an Aseptic Piston Doser capable of dosing beverages with pieces of fruit, passed the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT). The test was carried out in the presence of the final customer (NDA), an American Co-packer of Low Acid (LA), high protein beverages. The machine is a low speed aseptic Modulbloc that will be FDA validated to allow the products to be sold into the US market.