At Tetra Pak, we master both the major UHT technologies, so we can focus on what will give you the results you are looking for. The Tetra Pak® Indirect UHT unit gives you unbeatable efficiency for long runs and with very good product quality. But if it’s premium product quality you’re after, then the Tetra Pak Direct UHT unit is the way to go. You get truly premium quality and ultra-flexibility to handle a wide portfolio of products in one unit.
While milk is traditionally kept refrigerated, plant-based beverages are usually stored at ambient temperatures. At Tetra Pak, we have supplied UHT lines to many of the players in the fast-growing plant-based beverages sector. We’ve put our expertise into a short article where we examine why this sector is dominated by direct UHT and the importance of preserving the product's light colour.
One in three of the UHT units we sell is a direct system despite the fact that such systems have a higher energy consumption than indirect alternatives. Direct UHT technology is chosen when the customer wants the best product quality and greatest flexibility in production. But did you know you can have both direct and indirect UHT functionality in one and the same unit?
This is a question many of our customers ask. The answer depends not only on what products you wish to treat with UHT, but also on the price of the products and their profit margin.
Answer six simple questions in our guide and you can quickly find out which solution is best for you: direct or indirect or both.
Direct UHT treatment puts minimal heat load on a food product thereby preserving the overall quality and nutritional value while reducing the impact on taste. Our state-of-the-art direct UHT technology is truly flexible with more than 100 options and a couple of combined heating solutions. Read more about some of the features and options below.
Direct steam injection gives you instant heating from 80°C (application dependent) to the UHT temperature, followed by temperature equilibrium and instant condensation, all thanks to the ring-nozzle steam injector. Heating and cooling of the product is practically instantaneous. That’s how our direct UHT technology creates commercial sterility while applying very little heat load to your products. This results in less chemical changes and therefore a final product more similar to the original unprocessed product. There are less colour and taste differences than with indirect UHT technology as well as less effect on nutritional values.
The Tetra Pak Direct UHT unit is available with either injection or infusion or both. When it comes to shear-sensitive products such as whipped cream containing stabilizers (e.g. starch or Carrageenan), steam infusion offers certain benefits. The basic principle of steam infusion is to heat a product by passing it through an atmosphere of steam. You will get the same high quality UHT product with infusion as with injection, but with less shear. This gives greater stability for shear-sensitive products. However, on the cost side, infusion gives you a 4-8% higher operating cost than injection because the process requires more steam and cooling water and results in slightly higher product losses.
The condenser is a separate unit. This allows it to operate at a higher temperature level (outlet water: up to 72°C compared to 65°C before). You do not have to use expensive ice water to fine-tune the temperature in the condenser cooling circuit, giving you lower energy costs. In addition, the separate condenser is easier to clean and service.
Combined heating solutions
Instead of buying two different units, you can purchase a ready-made combi model offering either injection or infusion or both. You can also choose equipment to manage both direct and indirect heating methods. Choose the heating solution that suits your products best and adapt it easily if your needs change in future because flexibility is built in. There are three modes to choose from:
Direct UHT mode - For “added value” products and superior product quality.
Plus mode (combining direct and indirect heating) - For longer shelf life and optimized economy.
Indirect mode - Lowest operating cost and environmental impact. For longest possible shelf-life and long running time.
Automatic homogenizer damper
Homogenizer dampers absorb pressure variation and shocks before and after the homogenizer. Automatic air refill maintains the air cushion in the homogenizer damper to ensure smooth operation. Without the air cushion, vibration and cavitation would occur and shorten the running time. Fully automated CIP is included - increasing operator safety, improving hygiene and further optimizing the production cycle.
Floating protection system
Aseptic product in the inner tubes of the Tetra Pak® Tubular Heat Exchanger flows at a higher pressure than the untreated product on the shell side. A floating protection system allows for thermal expansion of the tubes, greatly reducing the risk of damage from cracking, and consequent loss of sterility. In addition to improving food safety, this feature extends the lifetime of the heat exchanger.
Low-loss balance tank
Due to a very specific solution of the inlet valve arrangement of the balance tank, we have managed to reduce the mixing phase of the product. Other improvements apply to the inlet solution which carries an electronic level control. The frequency-controlled product pump is also linked to this device. In addition, a frequency-controlled pump will have a lower energy consumption.