Sherbet ice competition heats up at Japan Seafood Expo

At the 19th Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo held 23 to 25 August, refrigeration equipment was in the spotlight, with sherbet ice front and center.

Liquid Snow by Gaia System, based in Kobe, promoted the small size of its ice particles as an advantage, with claims their product does less damage to fish and take up less space in a Styrofoam shipping box than regular ice. Chilled shipping seems to be the main intended application of this machine.

The HybridICE system by Tokyo-based Blanctech Co., Ltd. is a large machine suitable for shipboard freezing or for dockside icing. It is currently used for Hiroshima oysters, which retain juice well when quick frozen with this ice. It is a highly adjustable system. A solution of water and from zero to 23.5 percent salt can be handled. At this high salt concentration, the freezing point becomes minus 21.3 degrees Celsius. The consistency can also be controlled, to either be more like snow or a slurry. This allows a single unit to produce ice suitable for many functions. The unit is large, but on a ship, the compressor can be installed separately from the ice-making unit.

Takasago Thermal Engineering Co., Ltd., based in Tokyo, has a similar system. They stress low maintenance and running cost and detailed control capable of maintaining the delicate state in which water is below freezing temperature, but yet not frozen.

The MaximICE Sherbet System of Iceman Corp., based in Kurume City in Fukuoka Prefecture, uses seawater to produce sherbet ice at minus 2 degrees Celsius. They make systems in a wide range of sizes – the largest with a daily output of 74.1 metric tons of ice per day. This can be further used in tandem or in sets of four to reach a total output of 297 metric tons (MT) of ice. The company has had technical cooperation since 2011 with Ice Synergy Inc. of the Springfield, Missouri, U.S.A. Ice Synergy developed the “orbital rod evaporator” that incorporates agitating rods to enhance the heat transfer effectiveness of a multiple-tube heat exchanger.

The Silk Ice System “Kaihyo” of Tokyo-based Nikko Co., Ltd. uses seawater or other salt water. The water content can be varied, producing a range from 10 to 30 percent ice concentration, or even dehydrated ice. The system can cope with sudden changes in the source water temperature and salinity without interrupting ice supply.

Also of interest to those transporting seafood, Japan Post promoted its chilled and frozen shipping service. The company’s International Express Mail “Cool EMS” allows seafood shippers to select chilled or frozen service, and Japan Post makes sure the items are kept cool until delivery. The service is currently available only to Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and France. Pickup is once a week, on Tuesdays, so that deliveries can be made by Friday, avoiding holding packages over the weekend. 

Finally, Ishida Corp., based in Tokyo, displayed two machines of their “i-Spector” series for simple but effective detection of the anisakis parasite. Anisakis has been in the news in Japan, as cases of people becoming sick after ingestion of infested sushi or sashimi have increased in recent years. One cause may be an increase in the global population of whales and other cetaceans, in which the parasite reproduces. The first machine is simply a container with front glass that is covered in a blue film. The piece to be examined is placed in the container and a black light is shined inside. Under this light, the white worm-shaped parasite glows and becomes easy to identify. The second is an automatic detection machine the company calls “i-Specter auto.” This uses LED light to detect anisakis and it then displays “OK” or “NG” with the location of the parasite indicated by a red square.


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