Infrared ovens, reflective coatings and phase-change materials for freezing hold promise for improved energy efficiency in the baking industry, says the American Bakers Association (ABA).
The group highlights opportunities to improve energy efficiency using these emerging technologies in its Energy Star guide produced with the help of members from Bimbo Bakeries, AMF Bakery, Flowers Foods and others.
The 104-page guide was made publicly available last week.
"New and improved baking technologies are being developed and evaluated continuously, many of which can provide increased energy savings, product consistency and quality, and improved productivity," ABA said.
Use of infrared ovens in a commercial bakery cuts baking time, lowers oven emissions and results in a smaller oven footprint, ABA said.
Infrared ovens use electric coils or ceramic plates heated by flames to generate and transmit infrared energy to the surface of the product without heating the surrounding air.
ABA said that because it does not require large volumes of air to be heated, the ovens can be up to 50-80% more efficient than convection ovens.
Use of reflective coatings on pans or wall interiors on burners and ovens reduces fuel consumption, therefore slashing costs and limiting emissions, ABA said.
The coatings contain high-emissivity ceramic materials that absorb heat and radiate it back to the product in the form of infrared energy waves.
"This allows a greater portion of the original energy contained in the burned fuel to be applied to the product, reducing the amount of fuel required by up to 20%," the Association said.
It added that the coatings also work to extend oven life as use decreased the amount of heat that oven walls and burners are exposed to.
Phase-change materials for freezing
The ABA said that commercial bakeries could take advantage of advanced phase-change materials (PCMs) to cut costs and increase chilling capacity.
PCMs are typically a salt mixture filled into plastic containers and submerged in water, glycol or another liquid that readily transfers heat. The PCMs absorb or release thermal energy based on their temperatures and the temperature of the fluid that can then be used at a later time.
Commercial buildings are storing energy into the PCMs overnight, when electricity rates are lower, and then using this stored energy in the day when electricity rates are higher to, for example, cool the building, the ABA guide detailed.
"In a similar manner bakeries can operate their chillers at night cooling the PCM. This load can be used later during non-peak times throughout the production process where cooling is needed," said the Association.
It said that this could save on energy costs but also ease the burden on the plant's chiller system.
"In some cases, facilities with PCM equipment are able to use their chillers to handle 75% of the cooling demand with PCMs supplying the remainder of the chilling demand," ABA said.