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Fluidized Bed Soluble Coffee Granules

Faster manufacturing process
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This is an idea for a way to manufacture soluble coffee powder (aka instant coffee) faster, and possibly more cost-effectively. By reducing the dwell-time of the coffee in the machine, production can be faster, or the floor space required by the machine reduced.

First, brewed coffee is frozen in a manner which produces appropriately sized granules.

The frozen coffee particles are transferred to the bottom of a vibratory-type fluidized bed, which in turn is inside of a pressure vessel (vacuum chamber).

Gas (mostly steam, but some air) is removed from the bottom of the bed, via a gas compressor, into a heat exchanger. The output from the heat exchanger goes into a gas/liquid separator, with the water being removed via condensate pump, and the gas removed via a vacuum pump.

A separate flow of gas, also taken from the bottom of the bed, is moved via blower through the heat exchanger, and is introduced to the top of the fluidized bed. The gas now heats the frozen coffee particles, causing sublimation of the water within those particles.

The vibration keeps coffee particles separated from one another, and sorted by density, which is determined by how much water each particle has. Lighter, dryer particles, naturally rise to the top.

Dry coffee granules are removed from the top of the fluidized bed, moved to atmospheric pressure, and sent to packaging.

I realize that gas flow is the opposite direction of what it would be in a normal fluidized bed. However, gas flow should be low enough that the vibrator will keep the frozen coffee bits fluidized in spite of it.

goldbb, Sep 25 2011

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       Pretty sure your hot gas is going to melt the particles instead of sublimating them. The melting will cause subsequent agglomeration and ruin the powder properties of your final product.   

       [goldbb], are you a chemical engineer? It's an interesting process, but it needs to run cold in order to maintain sublimation. You only need to remove the bottoms gas, cool it and condense out the water, and feed it back into the top of the device.   

       It's more of an idea for a large-volume lyophilization unit and I wonder to what degree these exist?
daseva, Oct 01 2011
  
      
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