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Importance of refrigeration for food and beverage industry
Thursday, 29 September, 2022, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
Dr Prakash Kondekar
The term refrigeration refers to the  process of removing heat from an enclosed space for the purpose of lowering the temperature. Main objective of food refrigeration is to preserve food quality and safety. Product quality factors include visual appearance, texture, taste, flavour and Nutritional contents. Refrigeration can be considered an artificial or human made, cooling method. If the foods which need cool temperature all the time, then refer cargo is the solution. Greeks and Romans were using the cooling methods for foods since 17th Century.

In the food and beverage industry several refrigeration systems can be used. If the cooling system is necessary during processing, most typical refrigeration system is the use of chilled water. There are other refrigerants  those can be used instead of water but it is important, to avoid chemical contamination in case of chelates.

When refrigerant passed through the foods kept in refrigerator, it absorbs heat from those items and transfers the heat in the surroundings with less temperature. Vapour compression refrigeration cycle is followed for the refrigeration process. In this process, evaporator, Compressor, Condenser and expansion valves are connected to tubes made of copper or steel.

Food products like meat, fish, and poultry must be kept in low temperature conditions to lengthen shelf life, into product integrity and avoid microbiological contamination time to avoid food poisoning. Many changes like microbiological, physiological, biochemical or physical, are taking place in food after processing. Refrigeration can help improving the nutritional quality of food. There are several refrigeration processes involved in processing and nourishment of food.

One of the important aspect of food industry is refrigeration for preservation and storing of food in places where temperature is lower than that of the surroundings. It is a science that deals with the absorption of heat at a temperature from surroundings at lower temperature and rejecting it to a relatively higher temperatures at the cost of some external work following Clausius’s  second law of thermodynamics.

Refrigeration sector is one of the largest economic sector covering pre cooling, cooling, air conditioning and freezing applications for various commodities. It is energy intensive sector, by consuming about 20% of the total electricity generated worldwide.

The refrigeration sector include, air conditioners, household freezes, coolers, precoolers, refrigerators and heat pumps, freezers for various applications ranging from food cooling to space cooling. Thus refrigeration has found its importance in many engineering and industrial sectors. Storage life of particular food product may vary according to its location and other ecological aspects.

There can be different  types refrigeration like -Evapoartive cooling units are also known as Swamp coolers. Mechanical compression Refrigeration system, used in commercial and industrial refrigeration as well as air conditioning. Absorption and Thermoelectric.

 Refrigerators and heat pumps are essentially the same device but the only differenceis in their objectives. Reversing the Carnot Cycle does reverse the direction of heat and work interactions. A refrigerator or heat pump that operates on the reverse Carnot Cycle is called Carnot Refrigerator or Carnot heat Pump. Refrigerant  is a liquid chemical that has an amazing ability to absorb heat once converted from gas to a liquid state.
When the refrigerant changes from one state to another through pressurisation and compression, it can then absorb the heat inside our home and expel the heat inside our home and expelled. Same principle is applicable to food processing units. It is estimated that the global industrial refrigeration system market will reach $25 billions by 2026.
(The author is director at Indian Institute of Naturopathy)
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