Article # 76- Food Applications

Air knives are used in many ways in the food processing industry.  They can be used to blow the rinse water off of freshly washed fruits and vegetables.  They are used to blow excess frost off of freshly frozen food.  They are used to remove meat scraps that cling to the conveyors in meat processing plants.  Any time the air comes into direct contact with food, there are special requirements that must be met.  These requirements are a result of the cleaning processes that are used in these plants.  In order to prevent contamination by organisms that cause illness, the processing equipment is cleaned on a regular schedule.  If an air knife system is part of the equipment, it must be cleaned.  This cleaning is done using strong, sometimes caustic chemical solutions.  These solutions will quickly degrade painted steel or aluminum.  Almost all the metal equipment in these plants is made of stainless steel.  Turbotech stainless steel air knives are a perfect fit for these applications.

Of course, air knives are only one part of a complete air knife system.  That system will include hose, hose clamps, blower, filter, mounting clamps and other fittings, at a minimum.  Let’s look at these other components.

The hose and hose clamps are easy.  Hose clamps can be had in stainless steel.  There is also hose available that is certified by the USFDA to be used in food applications.

The blower is usually the biggest problem.  Most blowers and motors are made of painted steel or aluminum.  There are blower manufacturers that will fabricate a blower for you out of stainless steel.  Those blowers are much more expensive.  Most customers prefer to deal with the blower in one of two ways.  The blower can be put in a different room and the air piped into the processing room.  The blower can also be put in a stainless steel washdown enclosure.

There is another question that we get asked.  Customers wonder what happens if a bearing seal fails.  Does this allow oil or grease to get into the air stream?  The simple answer is no.  When the seal fails, the higher pressure inside the blower housing pushes the lubricant away from the blower and not into the air stream.

The filter can be purchased with a stainless steel housing and connected to the blower with stainless steel fittings.  This allows the filter to remain outside the blower enclosure, making it easier to service.  Alternatively, the enclosure can be made bigger so the filter can be place inside it.

Our mounting accessories usually utilize stainless steel tubing and aluminum clamps.  In some applications, it is acceptable to anodize the aluminum clamps.  We can also provide clamps in stainless steel or UHMW plastic.

It is possible to make every part of a Turbotech Air Knife system acceptable for use in your food processing application.