MechChem Africa talks to Air Liquide’s carbon dioxide (CO₂) product manager for Southern Africa, Jonathan Hough; bulk and on-site business manager, Fanus Labuschagne, and food application manager, Gabriela Figueira, about gas solutions for improved efficiency and quality of food and beverage production.

Air Liquide Trial UnitTrial bulk supply and freezing units are available to enable customers to test the financial value and returns achievable by using Air Liquide technology.

Air Liquide supplies industrial gases in packaged gas, micro bulk and bulk volumes from small to large customers, as well as on-site generation solutions for oxygen and nitrogen. “We manufacture oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, argon, carbon dioxide, special gas mixtures and other industrial gases in large-scale production facilities throughout South Africa, which we deliver to customers using our fleet of road tankers and packaged gas vehicles,” begins Labuschagne.

“Our expertise extends from offering safe and reliable packaged gas; bulk and micro bulk storage and supply systems in a range of sizes and capacities customised to meet the needs of any industry; through to the installation, maintenance and monitoring of these gas supply and storage systems at a customer’s sites,” he says.

According to Labuschagne, gas applications for the food and beverage industry range across multiple applications and all food types. Typical examples are the use of CO2 for carbonation of soft drinks (CSDs); specialised gas mixtures, specific per food type and factors like moisture content of food, used during packaging to the extend the shelf life of such packaged fresh foods; liquid nitrogen (LIN) and liquid carbon dioxide (LCO₂) for faster and more efficient freezing of food, as well as dry ice for providing a protective atmosphere – as is the practice during the harvesting of grapes for the making of wine to prevent oxidation and associated deterioration of the grapes compromising final wine quality.

“Air Liquide has trial freezing units to enable customers to test the financial value and returns achievable by using this technology. Producers can run an operational test on their produce with this technology for a couple of months, after which Air Liquide can assist with developing a business case around a longer-term investment,” adds Labuschagne. As part of the value add, Air Liquide offers the use of these mobile trial units over a short to medium time, to determine the cost effectiveness of a bulk gas option for a carbonation, bottling or MAP and other applications.

“We do not simply sell industrial gas. We partner with our customers to optimise their food-processing applications: from equipment installation, supplying the product and monitoring the system’s performance to verify its value and effectiveness.” he concludes.

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