Low temperature drying

CSIRO has invented a novel way of applying ultrasound for efficient low temperature drying of materials. This technology has been shown to reduce the energy cost and increased throughput with similar (or better) retention of key quality attributes in drying of various products compared to established drying methods. The innovation allows for easy adoption in a continuous industrial operation as the process is undertaken at atmospheric pressure (no vacuum) and at low cost (reduced refrigeration requirement) compared to vacuum freeze drying (a benchmark low temperature drying method for producing premium products).

The technology has been demonstrated at laboratory-scale and small-scale industry pilot trials in batch drying of up to 2 kg of sample loading. The SIEF project will provide essential support in scaling-up demonstration of the technology to produce significant volumes (up to 50 kg of sample loading) in a continuous operation, at 1/3 of the energy cost with similar key product quality attributes compared to freeze drying.

Worldwide, the market of high-quality dried food products and ingredients is expected to grow to US$71.81B by 2023 for freeze-dried foods alone. Also, the global market of medicinal cannabis (which needs gentle drying to retain its heat sensitive medicinal compounds) is reported to be around US$44B by 2024. In addition, this technology will enable manufacturing of other premium foods, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and feed products and ingredients, including companies that have originated from CSIRO technologies that will be a potential early adopters/end users for this project.

A project consortium involving multiple parties that are placed along the value chain of this project (from manufacturers to end users from these different industries) will collaborate in this project to de-risk this game-changing innovation. CSIRO is currently conducting commercialisation activities and will continue to do so in parallel of the SIEF project to engage industry players in the following global licensing, pilot prototyping, technology evaluation and commercialisation of the technology in the fruit and vegetable domain.