Innovative scientists have managed to successfully employ nanotechnology to create a contaminant resistant surface for stainless steel, which is claimed to increase production efficiency, productivity and/or safeguard food safety
The innovation is claimed to be very important because surface contamination reduces operating efficiency, shortens run times and increases the likelihood of bio-film contamination. As stated by the scientists in their research publication - "such fouling will result in decreased heat transfer rates, pressure fluctuations and an overall loss of product quality."
Also - "operating costs are further increased by frequent shutdowns for cleaning and the corresponding use of chemical detergents and sanitisers, which also increases the environmental load and impact."
Raw milk stainless steel container
The innovative coating was tested on the surface of 316 Litre (L) stainless steel heat exchanger plates, whereby the raw milk can be processed and are subsequently subject to significant contamination or fouling of protein and minerals.
An electroless Nickel (Ni) plating process was employed to co-deposit fluorinated nanoparticles (NP) on to the plates. The ability to resist fouling was demonstrated on a pilot scale heat exchanger.
The NP modified steel surface reduced contamination by 97% whereby the researchers have claimed so in a journal published in Food and Bioproducts Processing.
Interestingly the scientists claim that typical nanostructure methodologies have been known to be effective against fouling, but, unfortunately they are limited due to associated high cost and complexity in fabrication, which often requires a clean room and a photo-lithography set-up. Such set-up requirements limit the potential application in the food industry.
Physio-chemical anti-fouling substances
Plus, typical physio-chemical anti-fouling substances have not been investigated for their ability to remain effective after repeated use, chemical abrasion and harsh conditions, such as acidic foods and/or chemical cleaning agents.
Alternatively the coating process proposed by the scientists was found to have preserved its unique properties even after 10 independent processing runs. As concluded - "co-deposition of fluorinated particles during electroless nickel plating represents an effective and commercially scalable method to prepare anti-fouling coatings on stainless steel."
Though the scientists recommend ongoing work to demonstrate long-term stability after repeated use, in particular when exposed to thermal and mechanical stresses. Furthermore, they recommend that more tests at commercially relevant flow rates, temperatures and pressures are required prior to mass commercialisation of the coating. Original article available here
As with similar research studies, the future potential of NP industrial applications has been handsomely sold. As stated previously, DCN Corp strongly believes it can supersede, by providing a dip controlling process which is superior in its cost-effectiveness, efficiency, eco-friendliness, etc. Going forward, if you and/or your colleagues are interested in making DCN Corp's alternative process reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.