Wageningen University & Research is the first university in the Netherlands to own a large pilot-scale spray dryer, which scientists use to convert solutions into powder. The Food Process Engineering group purchased the spray dryer for both better education and research activities.
Associate professor Maarten Schutyser of the group is pleased with the purchase. “This spray dryer is extremely useful for both education and research. The fact that our students are introduced to this large-scale equipment is valuable. Being able to simulate industrial processes is necessary to understand and improve them. A lot of research is being done in Wageningen on healthier and more sustainable composition of products and less energy consumption during production. This spray dryer makes a contribution to this.”
Less energy consumption
In time, other large-scale equipment will follow. Schutyser: “The spray dryer is of value for research activities within food technology. It enables research into the properties of instant powder and for the development of new ingredients. Furthermore, research into reducing energy consumption during spray drying is an important option. This is very important as drying processes in the industry are responsible for 15-20 percent of the total industrial energy consumption.”
Stable powder for food
Spray drying is a commonly used process in the food industry. The main purpose of spray drying is to convert liquid formulations into a shelf stable powder for food or feed applications. Spray dried powders are of superior quality because it’s a relatively mild drying method. Examples of spray dried ingredients are coffee, vitamin, enzyme, yeast, probiotics, fruit, vegetable, vegetable protein, flavoring, herbs, algae, starch and its derivatives, milk, infant formula, creamer and egg powder.
The DW350 spray dryer/agglomerator was realized in collaboration with the builder and spray drying experts. There are options for controlled agglomeration, using different atomization techniques, dehumidifying the air and accurate monitoring of conditions.
The equipment is owned by the Laboratory for Food Process Engineering, but will soon also be used by the research branch and other chair groups. In this way, the spray dryer can be used optimally all year round.