The scientists of the FOX project have designed a small-scale, mobile, and flexible unit for fruit processing that involves integrating downscaled technologies to ensure ease of use across various locations, raw materials, and final product requirements. The core innovation lies in its combination of oxygen-reduced extraction and PEF preservation, ensuring that the juice retains its original taste, aroma, and nutrition. This automated production line can churn out 250 L/h of juice, with the potential for doubling its output. The FOX unit is versatile in its operations. It processes a variety of fruits, from stone fruits like apples and pears to berries like strawberries and blackberries. The unit is adaptable to output juice of various consistencies, from slightly turbid to puree, with an impressive yield of up to 80% for near-clear apple juice. The end product is 100% pure, additive-free juice that captures the essence and nutritional quality of fresh fruits.
For the tech-curious, here’s a brief on its operation and efficiency. The process, designed for a minimum of two operators, starts with fruits being manually fed into an elevator. Here, the fruits are washed and sent to a crushing unit where they’re crushed in a nitrogen environment, minimizing oxygen contact. The crushed produce is then filtered through a vacuum spiral filter press, where the juice is extracted and sent to a buffer tank. Once the juice accumulates over 50 L, it is warmed up slightly and subjected to the PEF system. Post PEF treatment, the juice is swiftly cooled down to retain its freshness, collected in a tank, and is ready for packaging in either 5-L BAGinBOX or glass bottles.
But the innovation doesn’t stop at the quality of juice produced. The FOX mobile unit is also an eco-friendly solution. When pitted against conventional systems that use traditional pressing and thermal pasteurization, the FOX unit shines with 20% better environmental performance, producing less waste and offering higher juice yield.
The concept of FOX mobile juice unit: (1) Control Panel, (2) Electric Cabinet, (3) Elevator, (4) Multi-crush unit, (5) Nitrogen bottle, (6) Vacuum spiral filter press, (7) Juice buffer tank, (8) Mobile CIP unit, (9) Pulsed electric field (PEF) unit, (10) Liquid handling system (LHS), (11) Cooling unit, (12) Juice storage tank, (13) Filling unit.
Zdravkovic M., Snoeck E.R., Zicari A., Vranken L., Heinz V., Smetana S., Aganovic K. (2021). Sustainability assessment of mobile juice processing unit: Farmers perspective. Future Foods. 4, 1-8.