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Cutting Energy and Carbon Usage in the UK Food Industry

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Cutting Energy and Carbon Usage in the UK Food Industry

Cutting Energy and Carbon Usage in the UK Food Industry
October 07
02:46 2010

Baking bread in lighter tins, cleaning pipes with ice instead of hot water, and using microwaves to dry fruit gums and jellies: these are just some of the ideas being explored by the Carbon Trust and food industry leaders to cut energy use and carbon emissions at UK manufacturing sites.

Over the last year, the Carbon Trust has worked with companies including Allied Bakeries, Dairy Crest, Cadbury and Nestle to identify more energy efficient manufacturing processes with the potential to cut industry carbon emissions by some 450,000 tonnes a year: equivalent to taking more than 150,000 cars off the road.

Now, in partnerships with the Food & Drink Federation and Dairy UK, the Carbon Trust has challenged food producers and equipment suppliers to help prove the business case for these new processes. It is offering co-funding of up to £250,000 per project and in exceptional instances up to £500,000.

The challenge comes as part of the Carbon Trust’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) – a £15m programme aimed at catalysing low carbon innovation in industry.

“The way to make truly substantial cuts is to get to the very heart of manufacturing. We want to work with manufacturers to rethink production processes from the ground up. Innovation is the backbone of the low carbon industrial revolution that will not only reduce emissions but will also generate jobs and cut costs,” explains said Benj Sykes, director of innovations at the Carbon Trust.

Dairy

The food industry processes identified by the Carbon Trust as key targets for its IEEA programme include the cleaning of pipework in dairies. This is usually done by heating water to 80 C and flushing it through the pipes before sending it down the drain taking the wasted heat and energy with it.

‘Ice pigging’ – a process that uses solid plugs of ice to clean pipes and is commonly used in the oil industry – is a lower carbon alternative.

Homogenisation, the process that prevents a cream layer separating out from the milk, has also been identified by the Carbon Trust as an opportunity to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. Homogenisation is currently done by pumping milk at high pressure through narrow tubes to break up the fat molecules – a relatively energy intensive process. Lower carbon alternatives could include the use of ultrasound.

Together, these new methods of ice pigging and homogenisation could cut the dairy sector’s carbon emissions by around 5%.

Confectionery and Bakery

Carbon emissions from the production of gums and jellies in the confectionery sector stand at around 60,000 tonnes per annum. Using alternative methods such as microwave technology to dry (or ‘stove’) the sweets could cut these emissions by 10% a year, according to Carbon Trust estimates.

And in commercial bakeries, reducing the weight of baking tins, improving the efficiency of ovens and recycling waste heat could together cut the sector’s emissions by around 9%.

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