Steam Infusion Vaction Unit
The Steam Infusion Vaction™ Unit is a disruptive device that sits within a cooking vessel and uses steam as the motive force to heat, mix and pump liquids with and without particulates.
OAL acquired the PDX Sonic technology developed by Pursuit Dynamics in 2013 and have since successfully commercialised the Steam Infusion Vaction™ unit.
A full understanding of the operating parameters was gained under a £978,236 Innovate UK project with the University of Lincoln and a leading UK food manufacturer.
The combination of a growing commercial install base and scientific research have allowed us to idenifty the cooking applications where Steam Infusion offers the most value in terms of product quality and operational efficiency.
How Steam Infusion works?
Ian Beauchamp, OAL Head of Process, explains how the Vaction™ Unit operates in the video below:
The fluid to be processed enters the OAL Vaction™ Pump and once flooded, culinary steam is introduced into the unit. Special profiling within the steam chamber accelerates the velocity of the steam to above the speed of sound. The steam passes into the mixing chamber through an annular nozzle, disrupting the fluid flow and breaking it into small droplets, referred to as the vapour phase.
The small droplets within the low pressure vapour phase offer a significantly increased product surface area for the steam to condense into, generally resulting in a temperature gradient in the order of 12oC. This provides for no hot surface contact / hot spots so preserving the quality of the product and minimising Maillard Reaction and caramelisation of certain sugars.
As the steam condenses into the fluid droplets, the pressure rises. This is referred to as the condensation shock-wave and generates a pumping effect.
The low pressure vapour area within the reactor assists in the transfer of flavours and the effective hydration of starch granulates providing the opportunity to potentially reduce ingredient additions whilst still maintaining similar taste and mouth feel for the products produced.
Reduced hot contact surface areas diminish occurrences of product burn-on and hence the need for aggressive CIP regimes. This assists in reducing CIP chemical usage, cleaning operations and waste water disposal.