New plate belt freezer from Linde gives seafood processors the edge over hard-to-handle products


Published on
March 3, 2023

As a global leader in industrial gases and engineering services, Dublin, Ireland-headquartered processing innovator Linde has a lot in common with the global seafood industry it serves, particularly when it comes to priorities.

The company is as committed to the efficient, sustainable manufacturing of high-quality gases as the seafood processors who employ its cutting-edge cryogenic freezing and chilling equipment systems, according to Linde Director of Business Development Chris Johnson.

To keep pace with seafood suppliers and the constantly-evolving trends shaping their portfolios, Linde is continuously refining and optimizing its cryogenic systems for seafood processing, Johnson said.

“Improving the product and the process, that's what drives us. Our customers need a supplier they can work with to increase productivity while optimizing their finished product. So, our mission is simple – Making our world more productive - deliver innovative technologies and cryogenic systems that help meet this goal,” he said.

Among the latest innovations aiding Linde in satisfying this mission is its new CRYOLINE® PB plate belt tunnel freezer, to be featured at Seafood Expo North America / Seafood Processing North America in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. this upcoming March.

Powered by liquid nitrogen, the freezer is designed to accommodate a variety of difficult-to-handle products, including raw marinated proteins, sauced foods, semi-liquid products, and more. It boasts a “unique solid stainless-steel conveyor belt, with no wire mesh,” Linde said, as well as a modular design for onsite extension, an accessible interior for cleaning purposes, and controllable fans for maximum nitrogen efficiency.  

“It has one-inch plates of stainless-steel that lock together to form a solid surface, and it allows you to put anything – mussels, battered fish, any wet or difficult to handle species that comes out of the sea – on there,” Johnson said.

With seafood suppliers being pressed to diversify their offerings to keep modern consumers engaged with their brands, having equipment on hand that can accommodate a variety of species like the CRYOLINE PB plate belt tunnel freezer can be crucial for product expansion, Linde noted.

“For multi-product use, up to 20 different recipes can be entered into the CRYOLINE PB plate belt tunnel freezer, allowing the operator to easily switch between products,” the company said.

Alongside upping suppliers’ R&D and value-add capabilities, Johnson said the freezer innovation can reduce yield losses from products thanks to bottom crust freezing, which “locks-in moisture, brine, marinade, or sauces so that there are minimal losses in downstream processing steps.”

“Adjustable high-speed internal fans and controllable gas injection optimize the flow and use of nitrogen and ensure quick and efficient product crusting. The freezer’s high capacity and efficient operation allow product yield improvement with a minimum of operating cost and plant floor space,” Linde added. “With a minimal footprint, the CRYOLINE PB freezer can quickly set the moisture and rigidity of the product. Additionally, a quick cryogenic freeze of a sauced product prior to entering a spiral freezer can greatly reduce sanitation issues and improve changeover time by securing the sauce in place before entering the spiral.”

Similarly, the bottom freezing process “quickly freezes the bottom of wet or sticky products to very low temperatures, permitting them to enter a spiral or other freezer without adhering to the belt, thereby reducing product loss,” Linde said.

“Additionally, the flat surface and freezer operation quickly sets the bottom of the product with minimal marking for further freezing even on a traditional wire mesh belt that would typically leave noticeable marks,” according to the company.

Because the CRYOLINE PB plate belt tunnel freezer is equipped with a solid conveyor belt in lieu of a chain-link belt, it eliminates belt marking and allows for “a wider range of products with differing consistencies to go through the machine,” Johnson said, “giving the processor more opportunities to explore different species and possibilities.”

Such freezing techniques – which are faster than other methods like brine freezing and cold air blast freezing – have the dual effect of enhancing product quality, Johnson said.

“The faster you can cool a seafood product and get it to a frozen state, the better off you are quality-wise,” he said. “You’re going to rapidly freeze the product in its best shape, both in terms of quality and physical shape avoiding any distortion.”

All of Linde’s CRYOLINE cryogenic freezing systems “transfer heat so fast, your product scarcely has time to lose a drop of moisture,” the company said.

Moreover, unlike their mechanical contemporaries, cryogenics systems can be turned on and off to meet seasonal demand – a clutch feature for the ebb and flow of the seafood industry, Johnson noted.

“We know that seafood itself is inherently a very high-quality product. It also has seasonal fluctuations,” he said. “When the catch comes in, it gets processed and then processors may not have another opportunity to turn that plant on again for another day or so, until the next batch comes in. That’s why a cryogenic system can be so beneficial – it has an on/off capability. It doesn’t have to stay on and stay cold while there’s no product going through.”

The freezer is compatible with Linde’s CRYOCONNECT RM remote monitoring, mobile alert, and online historical operational system, the company said. For more information about CRTOCONNECT remote monitoring, the CRYOLINE PB plate belt tunnel freezer, and Linde’s other systems, the company will be exhibiting at Seafood Processing North America from 12 to 14 March, 2023, at Booth #1465 in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

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