Heat Exchangers

Previous discussions on heat and the mechanisms for heating or cooling foods have emphasized that virtually every food-processing operation depends on transferring heat. The operations involving heat transfer use a wide variety of heat exchangers for heating or cooling products and for operational aspects of auxiliary equipment. Although there are many types of heat-exchanger equipment used in the food industry, there are relatively few principles that govern the heat transfer and operation of the equipment.

There are two basic classifications of heat exchangers. One is the contact type in which there is direct physical contact between the food product and the heating or cooling medium. The other is the noncontact type in which the heat is transferred through a body that separates the product from the heating or cooling source. Within these two categories there are many proprietary designs and models of heat exchangers depending on the specific requirement for transferring heat to or from a given type of food product.

Capital investment, safety, and economics of processing are important operational factors to consider when purchasing or installing exchanger equipment. Of equal value in determining the type or model of equipment to install is the effect on the physical and chemical properties of the end products. Maintaining or improving nutritional value, aesthetics, safety of the products, and sensory attributes affect the marketability.

Paramount to the successful long-term operation of heat exchangers in meeting the above goals is the efficiency and ease of sanitizing the entire equipment. This is especially important for closed systems that can not be dismantled while cleaning. The operation of cleaning in place (CEP) requires sanitary design that ensures complete sanitation when cleaning liquids are circulated through the exchangers. Hence, engineering design is the controlling factor in insuring successful heat-transfer operations involving food processing.

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