Ecolab’s Fernholz also sees the potential for mining the rich data collected during the CIP process. He predicts advancements in software for developing supervisory control and data acquisition systems, which collect step records of information off of PLCs used in the CIP system. “A lot of data has piled up. It’s impossible to look for errors and exceptions in 125 washes occurring over 24 hours. Reports are in primitive form now,” Fernholz said. “A future development will be diagnostic tools that could help predict a failure.”
Ecolab is applying chemistry to reduce water temperatures and, in turn, energy consumption. The company’s Advantis acid detergent can clean at a lower temperature, Fernholz says, reducing a typical 150ºF cleaning to 110ºF. Dropping the temperature 40 degrees could help to save 10% to 15% on overall fuel costs, he said.
Water and energy are the expensive parts of CIP systems, with some 30% to 40% of a facility’s steam energy alone associated with CIP, Fernholz said. “We’ll have a continued focus on chemistries that operate at lower temperatures and decrease water consumption,” he said.
“The challenge to cold cleaning is chemistry. Most cleaners are less active in lower temperatures, so it’s necessary to reformulate the chemistry,” explained GEA’s Blanchard.
Aeolus took perhaps the most straightforward path toward reducing water, temperature, and the need for new chemistry: The company cut them out almost entirely, opting instead to use turbulent air for clearing and cleaning pipes.
The company’s Whirlwind pipe cleaning technology works in a four-phase clearing, cleaning, and drying process. In phase one, the first clearing is performed, as is initial product recovery. A laminar air stream is blown through the product that remains in the processing pipe work, recovering up to 90% of it. Because some product remains on the inner surface of the pipe work, phase two uses a whirlwind generated within the airstream to clear the remaining product.
After this phase of the process, less than 5% of product typically remains on inner pipe surfaces. During phase three, a small amount of water or cleaning agent is introduced into the airflow, with cleaning accomplished by the turbulent air and water mix acting on the inner surfaces of the pipe work. This process results in an inner surface that is 100% clean, according to information provided by the company.
Phase four consists of drying the pipeline using heated air. Warming the whirlwind airflow removes any traces of water droplets on the inner surface of the pipe work. The surfaces are dried so production can be restarted quickly.
CIP systems evolved to include sensors that could detect pH, turbidity, and conductivity to help save on cleaning costs and improve efficiency.
Peter Chavasse, business development manager at Aeolus, said the technology has been on the market for a number of years but was not publicized much before his company bought the business. In addition, there is a time curve for customers to adopt new technology, he said.
“This approach takes CIP to a different level,” said Chavasse. “We can save water, reduce waste and effluent, and reduce energy use.” Companies in Europe making pasta sauces, wines and spirits, and cosmetics currently use the Whirlwind System.
He said some companies just use the first two phases, while others may use the system twice a day for two weeks and then use a traditional CIP system to do a wet cleaning. The Whirlwind can be retrofitted onto existing CIP installations, or it can totally replace wet CIP cleaning, he said. The company is currently studying the scalability of the technology, hoping to install it in larger plants in the United States.