Icelandic Glacial produces near-water drinks flexibly with new plant
Water has been moving into the premium segment for some years now. Flavored water, so-called near-water drinks, is also becoming increasingly popular. Icelandic Glacial fills water from the Ölfus spring and distributes it worldwide. Since the beginning of the year, an inline dosing and carbonation system has been completing the production line. The reason is to expand the product portfolio and the market with near-water drinks, which are directly mixed before the filler.
A volcanic eruption 5,000 years ago formed the Ölfus spring in Iceland, from which Icelandic Water Holding today collects and bottles the water. The spring, which is located in a 128,000 hectare restricted zone, is fed by meltwater and rainwater that has previously been filtered through untouched lava fields.
With 900,000 m³ of water flowing from the spring into the ocean every day, it is one of the largest natural springs in the world. In fact, this volume alone is more than twice as much as the global consumption of bottled water.
Founded in 2004, the company focuses on both high product quality and sustainability throughout the entire production process. For example, only 0.1 percent of the water naturally flowing to the surface is used commercially. The energy required to operate the plant is provided entirely by geothermal and hydroelectric power. In order to keep the product’s ecological footprint as small as possible even after production, only freight spaces that would otherwise remain empty are used to ship the 100 percent recyclable bottles. Due to these efforts, Icelandic Glacial has been certified for the climate-neutral production and distribution of bottled water.
Until now, the product portfolio of Icelandic Glacial consisted only of pure water, still or carbonated. With the new plant, flavored water in the flavors Tahitian lime, Sicilian lemon and elderflower is now available on the market. The products are distributed mainly via the Internet and by selected retailers, mainly in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Due to their low calorie content, Near-Water Drinks are especially popular with active and health-conscious people. To meet the special needs of this target group, additives such as natural sweetening alternatives, vitamins or herbal extracts are also a possible option for the future.
Inline production before the filler
In order to be able to mix and carbonate beverages flexibly, Icelandic Glacial decided to install a system from Corosys GmbH. The unit is mounted on a frame and combines the two systems Additive Dosing System (ADS) and Continuous Carbonation System (CCS). The system is additionally equipped with a buffer tank, which enables the operation of the system directly in front of the filler. Due to the continuous operation, no batch preparation is necessary, which significantly increases the flexibility with regard to product type changes and batch size.
High precision dosing
The first part of the plant is the dosing system ADS. By means of a suction lance and a stepper motor diaphragm pump the components to be dosed, such as raw material, aroma, juice concentrate or a similar viscous medium, are taken directly from the corresponding container. By using a suction lance, the system can be operated independently of special container connections or dosing containers, which increases the flexibility. The advantage of the stepper motor diaphragm pump compared to conventional diaphragm pumps is the continuous dosing. While diaphragm pumps with three-phase motor and frequency converter set the dosing quantity via the frequency of the strokes and cause a pulsating current, the stepper motor diaphragm pump is faster in suction than in dosing. This considerably reduces the pulsation and the components are continuously dosed into the main flow.
The added additive quantity is monitored by a mass flow meter after the pump. According to the main flow in the water pipe, which is measured by an inductive flow meter at the inlet of the system, the additive is added proportionally. The system reacts immediately and precisely to a change in flow, for example caused by a varying filler consumption. In order to further increase the mixing accuracy, the quantity already dosed is also recorded by a summation counter and compared with the total quantity of finished product produced. Therefore deviations can be corrected quickly.
In addition to a CO2 analysis, the system can also be supplemented with an optional inline Brix measurement. By recording these measured values, the dose accuracy and the product quality can be further increased and fluctuations can be virtually eliminated. The dosed quantity of additive or CO2 is directly adjusted according to the parameters measured at the outlet. The design of the system is not only highly flexible but also designed for easy handling. Due to the easily accessible position of the suction lance, the quiver and the dosing vessel, CIP and an aroma change can be carried out in just a few steps.
After the additive dosing, CO2 is added to the water in the carbonation plant CCS. For this purpose, a booster pump is first used to increase the line pressure significantly above the saturation pressure of the beverage. A positive side effect of the pump is the further mixing of the water with the previously dosed component. The use of a static mixer is therefore not necessary.
In order to be able to quickly adjust the amount of CO2 to be dosed to the current product flow, the CO2 pipe is equipped with a mass flow meter and a hygienic control valve. The CO2 is dosed into the water via the GDI gas injector. The special geometry of the injector allows the gas to be fed evenly into the main stream. Due to the turbulence created, the CO2 bubbles are finely distributed and dissolve directly. The CO2 content is then measured by inline analytical measuring technology and the dosing ratio is adjusted if necessary.
Inline produced – inline cleaned
The entire plant is cleaned with the normal pipe cleaning of the existing CIP system. To ensure that the suction lance is cleaned at all points that come into contact with the product, it is pushed into a quiver for CIP. The tank can also be included in the hot cleaning process due to its vacuum-proof design. In this way, all components are included in a single CIP procedure. The system is then quickly available again for further production.
The principle of user-friendly operation of the plant is also applied to the control system. By using a touch panel located directly on the system, the operator can monitor the process, adjust recipes if necessary or change types. The high degree of automation also supports easy handling.
Flexible production – Flexibly expandable
As described above, the design of the system allows a quick response to changes in flow without affecting the quality of the product. Not only the production of the beverages is very flexible, but also the plant technology can easily be expanded. For example, additional Varivent connections can be used to easily add further dosing points and integrate them into the control system. In this way, for example, several components can be dosed to a product directly from the individual containers without having to mix them in advance. A dosing line for sugar syrup including liquid sugar handling or a crystal sugar dissolver can also be provided.
In addition to its application in the field of non-alcoholic beverages, the described system is also suitable for the production of beer or wine mixed drinks. Depending on the mixing ratio, the alcoholic component is added via the main stream or via a further dosing line. With an inline alcohol measurement the alcohol content can be measured, monitored and if necessary corrected.
For microbiologically sensitive products, a flash pasteurization between the carbonation and the buffer tank can ensure a longer shelf life and biological stability. This is also done continuously and can be adapted to the spedd of the filler. Intelligent and precise control ensures a constant decontamination rate with constant pasteurization units (PE) and avoids over- or underpasteurization of th products.
The described combination of dosing system and carbonation before the filler offers some advantages for the customer. It already starts with the assembly of the system on site, which can be done easily due to the compact design of the system. Due to the inline production directly before the filler, the required storage capacities and the cleaning effort are kept as low as possible.
Thanks to a simple cleaning process, the system enables a fast product type change with short set-up times and low product loss. The system can also be extended to a higher number of dosing lines without much extra effort.
Project manager corosys Prozeßsysteme und Sensoren GmbH, Hofheim am Taunus
Projet manager corosys Prozeßsysteme und Sensoren GmbH, Hofheim am Taunus
Technical manager, Icelandic Glacial, Ölfus