Carbon dioxide shortages this summer have caused production stoppages and restrictions for many UK food industry customers.
Breweries, food processors and packaging companies all experienced difficulties to varying degrees, following technical problems and maintenance closures at numerous CO2-producing plants across Europe.
Since then, many companies have started reviewing their supply chains to safeguard output in the event of any future shortfall in carbon dioxide production. And nitrogen generation is proving to be a commercially viable alternative to CO2 for multiple uses.
Food-grade nitrogen generation instead of CO2
Food-grade nitrogen is feasible as an alternative to carbon dioxide in a range of food and beverage applications, including:
- Back-filling beer racking tanks
- Counter-pressure filling of soft drinks
- Modified atmosphere packaging (also known as MAP, or ‘gas flushing’).
Within Europe, the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) has produced a specification that sets out the maximum contaminant levels acceptable for a gas to be considered food-grade. For example, nitrogen is given the additive number E941 when used in MAP applications.
Typically, buying CO2 or liquid nitrogen in bulk requires some space for gas storage. There are also financial and environmental impacts associated with truck-based deliveries, as well as safety and handling responsibilities.
These days, however, it is also possible to generate food-grade nitrogen on demand - at a fraction of the cost of having gas bought in. This gives food producers the option to assume total control over their supplies and reduce operational costs significantly.
Parker’s NITROSource PSA nitrogen gas generators are ideally suited to the challenges of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), as well as specialist brewery applications such as sparging and kegging.
Even where carbon dioxide replacement is not feasible - for example, making drinks fizzy - nitrogen generation can partially offset usage and potentially help keep plants operating at full capacity with limited CO2 availability.
Also, the lower cost of generated nitrogen can help reduce expenditure and potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
To find out more about how food-grade nitrogen can be used as an alternative to carbon dioxide, contact Parker’s United Kingdom team or visit http://solutions.parker.com/food-grade-nitrogen-for-breweries-food-and-drinks-packaging
This blog was contributed to by Tony Brown, sales manager (UK) Gas Generation