Infrared disinfection allows plants to use controlled heat targeted at key areas. In bakeries, the first priority is the elimination of mould growth. Radiation emitters direct their heat where it is required and for only as long as needed. The system prevents equipment as well as the baked goods from heat damage, while disinfecting areas.
The use of carbon infrared radiation allows heat to penetrate into porous materials or multiple spore layers, Heraeus Noblelight said about its new series of emitters.
The machines can be used for eliminating moulds from cake tins, trays and equipment. The carbon infrared emitters use radiation in the medium wavelength region with a high power density.
The company cited a study from the Bremerhaven Institute for Food and Bio-processing Technology, which studied the use of the process for six months. The research concluded that infrared radiation can help large bakeries to comply with hygiene standards.
The research showed that, with carbon infrared emitters there is sufficient disinfection of baking trays between 130ºC and 140ºC in less than 30 seconds. The spore reduction is achieved between 120ºC and 160ºC within 10 to 30 seconds, depending on the emitter power, the wetness of the tray and the desired speed of operation.
"The study showed that the instruments destroyed germs and bacteria safely and in a practicable way," Heraeus Noblelight stated. "Even thick layers of germs, porous surfaces or dust particles did not hamper the process of sterilisation due to the deep penetrating action of the radiation."
Muslin tray cloths can also be dried using infrared. This is important when a bakery plant is operated round the clock and it is not possible to carry out drying during the idle phases, the company stated.
"By carrying out this infrared drying in parallel with the disinfection the operating life of the muslin cloths is significantly extended, allowing greater intervals between replacements," Heraeus Noblelight claimed.
The devices have power densities up to 150 kW/m² and a response time of seconds.
"The fast response times allow for good controllability so that heat is applied for only as long as necessary, drying and disinfection cycles can be programmed and, if there is inadvertent stoppage of the conveyor belt, overheating of the baked goods or the machinery itself is prevented," the company stated.
The compact construction of an infrared emitter system, makes it possible for plants to retro-fit infrared disinfection into existing lines, the company claimed.
Carbon infrared technology is also used by bakeries to achieve a browning effect on their products. The technology is suitable for evaporating water from products at a very high power intensity. This ensures that the surface of the food product rapidly achieves a sufficient temperature to drive away local moisture and then causes browning without heating the body of the product.
The Bremerhaven Institute is a test centre that performs research and development services for the private sector. The institute focuses on the bakery sector.