High angle view of metallic vats in a brewery.

Food and beverage

It is estimated that 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions result from food production and processing operations.

Thermal processing using hot water and steam as a heat source is widely used within the food manufacturing industry to inactivate enzymes and to kill microorganisms. The thermal energy required by the food and beverage industries are characterized by their typically low to medium temperature and low flux energy needs, but these energy needs represent a significant portion of the U.S. manufacturing cumulative energy consumed. The industry includes food and beverage processing facilities such as dairies, breweries, or distilleries.

The energy demands of individual facilities are small compared to the heavy industries, such as petrochemical, steel, and cement, but the number of food and beverage industrial sites far exceeds the number heavy industry sites and they are distributed more evenly across the nation.

Many of the current heating operations within the food processing industry utilize fossil fuels. These heating operations can be efficiently converted using electric heating (e.g. microwave and radio frequency) as the source of energy. Electric heating will considerably decrease the overall processing times and result in better retention of nutrients and reduction in the overall costs of the operation. In addition, the use of electricity-based heating processes will help to decrease the overall generation of greenhouse gases and contribute to increased sustainability.

The goal of EPIXC is to develop electric heating operations and drying technologies for various food processing applications. Processing parameters will be optimized to make the process more sustainable and less nutritionally destructive to processed food products. Pilot scale prototype processing systems will be developed in collaboration with industries, who are a world-leader in manufacturing industrial heating and drying systems.