Continuous Freeze Driers

Freeze-dried foods produced year-round in large volume are often freeze-dried continuously in cylindrical chambers, up to 3.7-m wide and up to 25-m long, that process 15 rows of trays at a time (9). Generated vapor is removed by using multiple pairs of switchable condensers, similar to those shown in Figure 3. Trays of frozen food enter such driers one-at-a-time through a double-valve lock, without loss of vacuum. The injected trays are automatically elevated, arrayed in a vertical set, and then pushed forward as a set. The pushed trays move through the drier in separate rows between heated plates, whose local temperatures are programmed to provide heat input that varies properly with axial tray position. At the discharge end of the drier, trays and their now-dry contents are individually automatically lowered and exit, one-at-a-time, through a double-valve lock. Pairs of locks are used at each end of large driers. In smaller driers, individual locks are used at each end. Depending on drier size and feed moisture content, available continuous freeze driers can process 5,000 to 27,500 kg of feed per day.

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