Before becoming chips, potatoes need serious baths: first they’re washed, then their peels are scrubbed off with a high-pressure spray. The resulting rinse water may be reused for cost and sustainability purposes, but reusing water is an expensive and resource-intensive process.
In today’s 4-step process, the potato pieces are filtered out and the rinse water is treated with anti-microbial agents and UV light. Finally, leftover waste products from the cleaning processed must be disposed of, which is expensive. Removing a step or two would reduce costs and could save billions of gallons of water. Solutions must lower microbial loads and entail capital and operational costs below specified limits.
Solutions may involve new chemical additives and devices but should not entail high heat or add regulatory concerns or problematic byproducts.
Background: Potatoes must be cleaned and peeled before they are sliced and fried. Part of this cleaning and peeling process involves high-pressure spraying with water, which creates a slurry of potato peels, dirt and microbes. To minimize waste, much of this rinse water is reused in the cleaning process. However, the water must be sanitized before reuse. The current process for sanitizing potato rinse water is a complex and costly multistep process. Filtering becomes necessary because failure to remove many of the solids will interfere with most sanitization methods. The water can be sanitized without removal of the suspended solids, but the process is cost-prohibitive. Suspended solids negate the effects of UV and require significantly more amounts of oxidizers.
Why this is valuable: The current process is costly because of its reliance on multiple filtering and sanitation steps. The process also results in a chemical sludge that must be disposed in a specific and costly way. Removal of one or more of these steps will decrease costs and allow more reuse of the rinse water. This could result in over 2 billion liters of water savings. In addition, failure to reuse rinse water is economically and environmentally costly. Fresh water sources are stressed globally. This results in higher acquisition costs and depletes a critical resource.
Does the thought of the amount of water that is wasted from washing vegetables keep you up at night? For most of us, probably not, but that is a problem that lots of Food and Ag companies face every day. The actual process of cleaning vegetables and reusing the water is a tiresome task that not only waste billions of gallons of water, but also requires lots of effort and money. As a result, Xinova is seeking innovative and cost-effective solutions that can make the vegetable cleaning process more efficient and more sustainable.
This opportunity comes from the efforts of Xinova’s R&D Consulting and Innovation team.
Are you up for the challenge?
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