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Title:
LIQUID NITROGEN CONTROL FOR CAMPYLOBACTER TREATMENT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/043925
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus for applying cryogen to destroy bacteria on a food product includes a housing having an inlet, an outlet, and a chamber therebetween in communication with the inlet and the outlet; a conveyor constructed and arranged to transport the food product through the chamber; a heat sensing apparatus responsive to heat parameters of the food product at the inlet and the outlet and able to transmit signals of said heat parameters; a cryogen spray apparatus in fluid communication with the chamber for providing a cryogen substance to said chamber; and a controller connected to the heat sensing and cryogen spray apparatus for controlling administration of said cryogen substance to the chamber and the food product in response to the signals from said heat sensing apparatus. A related method is also provided.

Inventors:
NEWMAN, Michael, D. (51 Woods Road, Hillsborough, NJ, 08844, US)
Application Number:
US2015/046233
Publication Date:
March 24, 2016
Filing Date:
August 21, 2015
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
LINDE AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT (Klosterhofstr.1, Munich, Munich, DE)
NEWMAN, Michael, D. (51 Woods Road, Hillsborough, NJ, 08844, US)
International Classes:
F25D3/11
Domestic Patent References:
WO2013034874A12013-03-14
Foreign References:
US20110265492A12011-11-03
US7171815B22007-02-06
US6233966B12001-05-22
US20090283517A12009-11-19
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
COHEN, Joshua, L. (Linde LLC, 575 Mountain AvenueMurray Hill, NJ, 07974, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for applying cryogen to destroy bacteria on a food product, comprising: a housing having an inlet, an outlet, and a chamber therebetween in communication with the inlet and the outlet; a conveyor constructed and arranged to transport the food product through the chamber; a heat sensing apparatus responsive to heat parameters of the food product at the inlet and the outlet and able to transmit signals of said heat parameters; a cryogen spray apparatus in fluid communication with the chamber for providing a cryogen substance to said chamber; and a controller connected to the heat sensing apparatus and the cryogen spray apparatus for controlling administration of said cryogen substance to the chamber and the food product in response to the signals from said heat sensing apparatus.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the heat sensing apparatus comprises; a first sensor positioned proximate the inlet and constructed and arranged to signal proximity of said food product with respect to said inlet, and a first thermal imaging camera positioned proximate the inlet and to have the food product in a field of vision of said first camera.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising at least one first infrared (IR) probe positioned proximate the inlet and responsive to a first heat parameter of said food product.

4. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the heat sensing apparatus further comprises: a second sensor positioned proximate the outlet and constructed and arranged to signal proximity of said food product with respect to said outlet, and a second thermal imaging camera positioned proximate the outlet and to have the food product in a field of vision of said second camera,

5. The apparatus of claim 4, further comprising at least one second infrared (IR) probe positioned proximate the outlet and responsive to a second heat parameter of said food product.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the cryogen spray apparatus comprises: a pipe for providing the cryogen substance to the chamber, and at least one nozzle in fluid communication with the pipe and from which the cryogen substance is sprayed into the chamber.

7. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising: a valve disposed in the pipe, a pressure regulator in communication with the valve and the controller for controlling actuation of said valve, and a pressure transducer in fluid communication with the pipe downstream of the valve, and in communication with said controiier for signaling to the controller a pressure of the cryogen substance in the pipe.

8. The apparatus of claim 6, further comprising a manifold in fluid communication with the pipe, and a plurality of outlets arranged in said manifold for providing the cryogen substance into the chamber.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 , wherein the cryogen substance comprises liquid nitrogen.

10. A method of applying cryogen to destroy bacteria on a product, comprising; conveying the product for exposure to a heat transfer substance; sensing a first temperature at a surface of the product before exposure to the heat transfer substance; contacting the product with the heat transfer substance to reduce a surface temperature of the product without freezing said product; sensing a second temperature at the surface of the product after exposure to the heat transfer substance; and controlling an amount of the heat transfer substance contacting the product surface responsive to the first and second temperatures of the surface of the product.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising sensing a first proximity of the product for initiating the sensing a first temperature, and sensing a second proximity of the product for initiating the sensing a second temperature.

12. The method of claim 10, further comprising adjusting a pressure of the heat transfer substance responsive to the sensing of first and second termperatures.

13. The method of claim 10 wherein the heat transfer substance comprises a cryogen.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the cryogen comprises liquid nitrogen.

15. The method of claim 10, wherein the product is selected from the group consisting of a food product, a carcass, and a combination of food products and

CHTCSSSSS ,

16. The method of claim 10, wherein the bacteria destroyed comprises

Campylobacter.

Description:
SPECIFICATION

LIQUID NITROGEN CONTROL FOR CAMPYLOBACTER TREATMENT

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present inventive embodiments relate to apparatus and methods for destroying bacteria, such as for example Campylobacter, on carcasses or food products.

[0002] In cryogenic treatment for killing Campylobacter on a surface of, for example, poultry carcasses, it is important to have a constant and sufficient flow of liquid nitrogen (LIN) to the process for the nozzles to be actively spraying nitrogen onto the carcass surface. The carcass can be of a chicken, for example. The retention or residence time of the carcass exposed to the process is very short (in a range of 20-40 seconds). Accordingly, a minor disruption of the LIN flow can result in reduced kill rates of the bacteria and inefficient use of the LIN.

[0003] it is also necessary to precisely control LIN flow to minimize accumulation of liquid nitrogen on a floor of a treatment tunnel for the carcass. An excess of LIN and overspray can result in damage to the freezing tunnel and equipment including, as mentioned above, a wasteful use of the LIN product.

[0004] The only known method of controlling a flow of LIN into the tunnel is by opening a UN control valve to a set position, and thereby permitting the LIN to flow into the treatment system. There is no feedback control to compensate for variable temperatures of the carcasses passing through the tunnel, or the variable quality of the LIN entering the system. Both of these variables impact upon an effective and efficient use of the UN in the tunnel, and in the treatment process.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] There is therefore provided an apparatus for controlling liquid nitrogen flow for Campylobacter treatment, including sensors which directly monitor the flow rate of poultry carcasses and surface temperatures of the carcasses entering and exiting the tunnel. This data is feed into an onboard processor which will automatically adjust mass flow rate of LIN so that carcasses are always discharged from the system having a select and desired surface temperature, therefore minimizing overspray and wasted LIN.

[0006] An apparatus is therefore provided for applying cryogen to destroy bacteria on a food product, including a housing having an inlet, an outlet, and a chamber therebetween in communication with the inlet and the outlet: a conveyor constructed and arranged to transport the food product through the chamber; a heat sensing apparatus responsive to heat parameters of the food product at the inlet and the outlet and able to transmit signals of said heat parameters; a cryogen spray apparatus in fluid communication with the chamber for providing a cryogen substance to said chamber; and a controller connected to the heat sensing apparatus and the cryogen spray apparatus for controlling administration of said cryogen substance to the chamber and the food product in response to the signals from said heat sensing apparatus.

[0007] A method is also provided for applying cryogen to destroy bacteria on a product, including conveying the product for exposure to a heat transfer substance; sensing a first temperature at a surface of the product before exposure to the heat transfer substance; contacting the product with the heat transfer substance to reduce a surface temperature of the product without freezing said product; sensing a second temperature at the surface of the product after exposure to the heat transfer substance; and controlling an amount of the heat transfer substance contacting the product surface responsive to the first and second temperatures of the surface of the product,

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0008] For a more complete understanding of the present inventive

embodiments, reference may be had to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the drawing Figures of which,

[0009] FIG. 1 discloses an apparatus embodiment for performing a process embodiment for treating Campylobacter or other bacteria at a surface of a product, such as for example a carcass or a food product; and

[0010] FIG. 2 discloses positioning of certain components of the apparatus of FIG. 1 in relation to a poultry carcass being processed by the apparatus.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0011] Before explaining the present inventive embodiments in detail, it is to be understood that the embodiments are not limited in their application to the details of construction and arrangement of parts illustrated in the accompanying drawings, since the invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology or terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation. [0012] Referring to FIG. 1 , there is shown an apparatus 10 constructed for treating carcasses 12, such as for example poultry carcasses, with liquid nitrogen (LIN), The carcasses 12 are moved through the apparatus 10 in a direction as indicated by arrow 14, The apparatus 10 is constructed to control an amount of the LIN applied to the plurality of carcasses 12 and to accordingly adjust the flow of the LIN responsive to the temperature and quantity of the carcasses entering and exiting the apparatus. Adjusting the flow of the LIN will control the heat flux at a surface of the carcasses for bringing about a desired result of killing bacteria at a surface of each carcass without freezing same.

[0013] In particular, the apparatus 10 includes a housing 18 constructed as a tunnel which is fabricated of stainless steel or other alloy sufficient for purposes of hygiene, maintenance, repair and cleaning of the housing, and withstanding cryogenic temperatures. The housing 16 includes an inlet 18 in fluid communication with a spray chamber 20 at an interior of the housing, and an outlet 22 also in fluid communication with the spray chamber. A conveyor 24 having mechanical fasteners, such as shackles, connected thereto is arranged to transit the spray chamber 20 from the inlet 18 through the spray chamber to the outlet 22 while transporting at least one and for most applications a plurality of the carcasses 12 along the spray chamber for processing. The conveyor 24 with its mechanical fasteners for holding the carcasses 12 are those which are known for use in poultry processing operations.

[0014] As each of the carcasses 12 approach the inlet 18, the carcass may be aligned on the shackle for optimum positioning during treatment within the spray chamber 20. An inlet proximity sensor 26 at the inlet 18 is triggered indicating the position of the carcass 12 for alignment with at least one and for most applications a plurality of inlet infrared (!R) probes 28 or sensors disposed proximate the inlet, A thermal imaging camera 30 is also disposed proximate the inlet 18, and the camera has a line of sight to the inlet (IR) sensors 28. The IR probes sense and signal surface temperatures at precise locations on the carcass 12, while the thermal imaging camera 30 reads and provides an overall representation of the temperature distribution on the carcass. Data from the thermal imaging camera 30 can be used to estimate an average surface temperature of the carcass 12. Both the IR probes 28 and thermal imaging camera 30 will be used for most applications, but it is understood that the IR probes only can be used, or the camera only can be used.

[0015] At a discharge end of the housing 16 at the outlet 22, an outlet proximity sensor 32 is positioned to be triggered when each of the ca 12 exits the outlet. A plurality or array of outlet IR probes 34 are sensors which are positioned proximate the outlet 22 and arranged along a line of sight with respect to the carcasses 12 exiting the outlet. Another thermal imaging camera 38 is positioned proximate the outlet 22 to record an outlet temperature of a surface of each carcass, such as the skin of the carcass. See FiG. 2 for an example of the inlet and outlet (IR) sensors 28, 34, respectively, positioned for detecting temperature of the skin or the surface of each of the carcasses 12. The sensing, signaling and reading processes of the outlet SR probes 34 and thermal imaging camera 36 are similar to the inlet IR probes and the inlet camera

[0016] Application and control of the LIN introduced into the spray chamber 20 is as follows. LIN is provided to the apparatus 10 from a remote source such as a bulk storage tank (not shown) through a pipe 38 or conduit which is connected to a manifold 40 or plenum disposed in the spray chamber 20. Extending from the manifold 40 are at least one and for most applications a plurality of branches 42 or pipes, each of which is provided with at least one and for most applications a plurality of spray nozzles 44. The branches 42 are disposed in the spray chamber 20 so that the carcasses 12 which transit the chamber pass in close proximity to the spray nozzles 44, whereupon atomized sprays of nitrogen gas can be applied to the surface or the skin of the carcasses 12.

[0017] The LIN pipe 38 includes a pressure regulator 46 in communication with an inlet valve 48 for controlling an amount of the LIN introduced from the pipe into the spray chamber 20, The pipe 38 is further provided with a pressure transducer 50 arranged downstream of the valve 48 such that the pressure transducer communicates an amount of pressure in the LIN as it is provided to the branches 42.

[0018] A controller 52 for the apparatus 10 monitors and tracks data being received regarding the carcasses 12 so that the LIN being introduced into the apparatus can be controlled in an amount sufficient to kill the bacteria on the carcasses 12, without wasting the cryogen product and without freezing the carcasses. In particular, the controller 52 is in communication with, wireiessly or othes-wise, the IR sensors 28, 34, thermal cameras 30, 38, the pressure regulator 48 and the pressure transducer 50.

[0019] The sensors 28, 34 record temperature of each carcass 12 at from, for example, six to eight key or critical locations on the bird. These critical locations on the carcass 12 are where contamination tends to be more likely and where destruction of Campylobacter is more difficult. These locations usually include areas of the carcass 12 having thicker muscle mass.

[0020] The carcasses 12 then travel through the treatment process, wherein liquid nitrogen is sprayed onto the surface of the carcass. It is important to maintain a constant spray on the surface of the carcass. [0021] The carcasses 12 then discharge from the treatment process where the array of outlet IR probes 34 and thermal imaging camera 36 record the outlet temperatures of the surface or skin for each carcass.

[0022] In operation, a temperature T1 is sensed by the inlet IR sensors 28, recorded by the thermal camera 30 and provided to the controller 52. A pressure is also encoded into the controller 52, the pressure being controllable as necessary for processing of the carcasses 12 with the LIN. A desired temperature T2 is entered into the controller 52. The temperature T2 could be an overall average temperature of each one of the carcasses 12 or a temperature specific to a location or locations on the carcass 12. For example, a breast area or location of the carcass 12 is usually monitored due to its size and thickness, and for sufficiency of the LIN application process. The controller 52 then adjusts a line pressure by controlling the pneumatic pressure via a dome of the pressure regulator 48. The controller 52 then adjusts cryogen injection pressure by adjusting a percentage {%} that the valve 48 (such as for example a modulating control valve) is to be open. That is, if a discharge temperature of each one of the carcasses 12 is too great, the controller 52 will adjust the line pressure of the LIN through pipe 38 to be increased and therefore subsequently Sower discharge temperatures of the carcasses to be colder. Because the outlet IR sensors 34 and outlet thermal camera 38 are connected to the controller 52, and because the controller is also provided with the pressure of the LIN through the line 38 due to the controller being in communication with the pressure transducer 50, the controller can be responsive to regulate the pressure and therefore an amount of the LIN being introduced to the branches 42 and out of the spray nozzles 44 and onto the carcasses 12. Response of the apparatus 10 can be tuned with PID (proportional-integrai-derivative ) functions. [0023] Occasionally, during bulk tank (not shown) filling, the line 38 pressure of LIN being fed to the apparatus 10 may change. The controller 52 of the apparatus 10 will adjust the flow of cryogen accordingly to compensate for the filling. In addition, the quality (cooling capacity) of the LIN can also change during the course of a production day. The controller 52 will also compensate for such a change.

[0024] The present apparatus 10 and method embodiments provide for a precise amount of LIN to be applied to the carcass such that a skin temperature of the carcass is at a proper reading upon outlet from the apparatus. There is also provided a reduction in overspraying of the LIN, because overspraying can damage or compromise the treatment equipment and related process. This accordingly results in an improved efficiency of the Campylobacter destruction process in view of the reduced and therefore efficient usage of the LIN. Similarly, because the apparatus 10 and related process are operating more efficiently, there is therefore provided a reduction in the amount of operator intervention to cure or correct operation of the apparatus and implementation of the related process.

[0025] It will be understood that the embodiments described herein are merely exemplary and that a person skilled in the art may make many variations and modifications without departing from the spirit and scope of the inventive embodiments. All such variations and modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the inventive embodiments as defined in the appended claims, it should be understood that the embodiments described above are not only in the alternative, but may be combined.