GEA AddCool achieves a ‘milestone’ in energy savings for Arla Foods

A new GEA AddCool system is responsible for not only reducing the carbon footprint of Arla Food’s spray drying plant (GEA MSD 315 spray dryer) by 50 per cent, but also reducing the plant’s fossil fuel consumption with more than 50 per cent.

In March 2023, GEA received an order from Arla Foods AKAFA to install the GEA AddCool sustainable heat pump solution at its facility in Svenstrup, Denmark.

At this site, the world-leading manufacturer of dairy products is planning to produce milk powder using a more sustainable process. GEA’s AddCool technology halves a plant’s consumption of fossil fuels and its associated carbon footprint.

Conventional dairy powder plants have a high carbon footprint, with the spray dryer accounting for up to 70 percent of emissions. This means that a 50-per cent CO2 saving from the spray dryer has a huge impact on overall plant emissions. In addition, the GEA AddCool system is delivering ice water to the existing system, which means that the need for cooling capacity is reduced. This will increase the total efficiency of different systems on the site making it more sustainable overall.

Jens Løkke Ganderup, operational support manager at Arla Foods AKAFA said optimising energy usage and reducing the consumption of fossil fuels such as natural gas are very important to the business.

“GEA’s AddCool solution helps us to lower fossil fuel consumption significantly,” Ganderup added

The project started five years ago when GEA conducted an energy survey at Arla Foods AKAFA that showed the potential for substantial energy savings from the spray drying plant. Arla’s own internal survey confirmed the results and paved the way for the decision in favour of the GEA AddCool.

Ulrik Lund Jakobsen, CEO of GEA business unit powder & thermal separation technologies, said: “GEA AddCool technology is a real milestone in energy savings. We are very proud to be able to use our technology to support Arla Foods in achieving their sustainability goals. At the same time, this technology marks a major step forward in our own sustainability strategy in which we commit to offering ever more energy-efficient products.”

Spray drying is a technology that uses hot air to manufacture high-quality powders. As the air heaters usually operate on fossil fuels, they emit high levels of CO2. All the heat input into the process is eventually released at low temperatures as waste heat.

The GEA CO2 heat pump technology recovers waste heat from the exhaust air or other plant waste energy streams. This energy is upgraded and used to warm the air in the spray dryer to as much as 120°C before feeding it into the dryer’s conventional heating system.

Since the GEA AddCool heat pump system works as an addition to the native spray dryer air heating system without impairing plant throughput, final powder properties or quality, it can be easily retrofitted in conventional plants. Additionally, the option of reverting to the original system during routine maintenance means that the spray dryer can continue powder production uninterrupted.

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