Leatherhead Food Research's (LFR's) ‘proof-of-principle’ collaborative research project, which will begin in January, will evaluate the merits of a range of nano-structured coatings that can be applied to food processing equipment, heat exchangers and other pipework.
The first stage of the study will evaluate the coatings on stainless steel blocks, which will be exposed to milk samples under controlled boiling conditions. The milk will also be tested to ascertain whether any nanoparticles have migrated from the coatings, LFR consultant microscopist Kathy Groves told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
The second stage will apply the most promising coatings to heat exchangers in order to simulate a more realistic production environment, said Groves.
Fouling in heat exchangers and associated pipes was a constant headache for food manufacturers as it reduced performance, she said. It could also cause potential contamination problems if left unchecked as fouling layers could harbour unwanted micro-organisms.
By applying nano-structured coatings that minimised fouling, firms could reduce downtime and cut cleaning costs, Groves added.
Firms interested in taking part in the project can contact Kathy Groves at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr Pretima Titoria at email@example.com.