Ultra-sonic spray technology company Sono-Tek teamed up with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in April to apply atomisation techniques to the food packaging industry. "This exciting cost-sharing project will develop a proto-type system to significantly improve barrier protection," said Sono-earTek president Joseph Reimer. Earlier this year, the company applied its 20-year experience of ultra-sonic atomisation in the medical and textile sectors to food packaging for the first time. Ultra-sonic application of liquids in the food and food packaging sectors allows far more accurate and economical treatments than conventional spray technology, said Reimer. "Super accurate ultra-sonic spray applications offer savings of up to 80 percent in spray material and up to 25 percent in drying costs," Reimer told FoodProductionDaily.com at the IFT 08 food trade show in New Orleans, United States. Atomisation provides a more uniform droplet size range of 5-80 microns compared with conventional spray technology, which ranges typically up to 250 microns, he added. More precise droplet size cuts the problem of bounce-back to between 2-4 per cent, as opposed to 20 per cent with other technologies leading to the savings in materials and drying costs, according to the company. Also wide orifice ultra-sonic nozzles do not clog like conventional nozzles and, with 360 degree application help to ensure compliance with quality assurance standards, said Reimer. So far, Sono-Tek has used the technology to apply de-panning oils in the baked goods sector and the spraying of anti-microbial solutions over baked products. Further uses include egg wash coatings to bakery products before baking and the precise application of water to sesame buns to stick seeds onto the surface of the product. The price of Sono-Tek's multi-directional, ultra-sonic spraying systems depend on application but typically ranges from $30,000 to $250,000, said Reimer.
Improved barrier protection against water and oxygen, through the ultra-sonic application of nano materials to bio degradeable films, is the focus of a $140,000 research project due for completion this September.