Ambient air is made up of approximately 21% oxygen. When food is exposed to oxygen, oxidation or food spoilage occurs. Environments that are rich in oxygen are breeding grounds for bacteria such as mildew and mold which can wreak havoc on food processors and packagers.
To extend freshness, shelf life, long-term storage, and extend shipping distances, food packagers use a process called modified atmosphere packaging.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)
Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) machines such as vertical form fillers are equipped with injection nozzles that introduce food-grade nitrogen gas into packaged snack bags. As nitrogen fills, the contents in the bag are blanketed with nitrogen. The injection of food-grade nitrogen and the removal of oxygen significantly slows down the process of decay by inhibiting the process of oxidation and the growth of microbes extending product freshness and shelf life.
Nitrogen gas used for modified atmosphere packaging is sometimes purchased from gas companies in cylinders which must be stored at the processing and packaging facility with the safety issues associated with their storage and handling. Couple that with the ever possibility of running out of nitrogen gas in the middle of your production schedule and more expensive, long-term contracts with gas companies and you quickly see that cylinders are not the best option.
Working with a New Food Packaging Company
A major snack food packager of dried fruits and nuts in Germany was using old, leased nitrogen storage equipment which was known to periodically discharge nitrogen. Not only was this an issue, but the uncertainty of receiving a reliable, on-time gas delivery from the gas company further magnified their nitrogen problems. As a result, the facility had to attenuate its usage of nitrogen by slowing production lines and/or edging closer to limits on purity for their packaged products, neither of which were acceptable.
Slowing down production meant lost revenue, and edging closer to limits on purity meant a decrease in product shelf-life. The packager recognized they needed an on-site independent nitrogen gas generation system in place and contacted the nano team for help. They wanted to continue their successful snack packaging with a more reliable and independent supply of nitrogen.
The local nano distributor and Darren Kelly, nano Regional Sales Manager worked with the facilities maintenance manager to give him complete confidence by sharing nano’s experience of similar modified atmosphere packaging installations. By considering the current nitrogen usage and purity requirements as supplied by the maintenance manager, nano presented a turnkey on-site nitrogen gas generation system proposal to the snack food packager.
A nano Nitrogen Generator Solution
In the end, the facility selected a GEN2 i4.0 2110 modular nitrogen gas generator with an energy savings feature along with a complete air treatment package including a nano modular desiccant dryer also with energy savings, filtration, and oil vapor removal and condensate management systems. The complete package was both installed and commissioned by nano’s local distribution team.