Trelleborg Sealing Solutions partnered with Krones, a specialist in beverage bottling, to analyze the reasons behind unintentional flavor carryover during the filling process. The companies found elastomer sealing components to be a relevant factor in aroma carryover and that the selection of the optimum sealing material is crucial in preventing the transfer of flavors from one filling process to the next, and the following ones.
Improving sustainability with sealing materials
Konrad Saur, Vice President Innovation & Technology at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, says: “The prevention of flavor carryover plays a significant role in enhancing sustainability in the food and beverage industry. Through our research partnership with Krones, we combined our expertise in elastomer sealing materials with Krones expertise in beverage trends and developments. The result is that we were able to successfully identify that selecting the optimum sealing material is critical in preventing aroma carryover, positively impacting both ours and Krones’ customers.
“Engineering, along with product and material development, play a valuable role in moving toward a more sustainable future. We help our customers optimize the performance of their product and manufacturing processes, while reducing waste and lowering impact on the environment and, at the same time, meeting market demands. This is one of the topics we will be highlighting at our European Virtual Conference on November 25, when Dr. Eva Beierle, the lead engineer at Krones involved in the aroma carryover R&D project, will be joining me for a panel discussion.”
Dr. Eva Beierle, Development Engineer Aseptic and Process Technology at Krones, understands the aroma carryover issue from the bottlers' point of view. She says: "One trend in the latest beverages is toward increasingly intense flavors. This poses challenges, since beverages with high concentrations of flavors naturally tend to leave perceptible traces of aroma in the bottling lines. Working with Trelleborg Sealing Solutions has given us a deep understanding of how to avoid unacceptable aroma carryover during filling."
Test results demonstrate effectiveness of FKM and FFKM materials
Together with Krones, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions performed tests to understand where and why aroma carryover occurs in bottling plants. The elastomer materials used in sealing components in filling machines, which are in contact with beverages proved to be a significant factor. The aromas used for beverages, especially when used in high concentrations, diffuse into elastomer materials. The seals can then release the absorbed aromas even after thorough rinsing between beverage filling processes.
Analysis of sealing materials showed that seals made of ethylene propylene diene rubber (EPDM) absorbed more aroma molecules, while fluorocarbon (FKM) materials demonstrated significantly better performance making it suitable for use with many beverages. Tests also concluded that seals made of perfluoroelastomer (FFKM), such as the Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Isolast® FoodPro® compounds, can be an effective solution. The FFKM materials did not absorb aromas and showed virtually no detectable effect on the taste of subsequent beverages, even under unfavorable conditions. This makes these sealing materials ideal for use on bottling lines processing beverages with intense flavors.
Martin Krüger, Area Sales Manager responsible for food & beverage at Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, adds: "Our customers must be able to rely on the performance of the sealing solutions they specify.
We can adapt our sealing systems in geometry and material exactly to specific requirements. In bottling lines, selecting the optimum seal, either FKM or FFKM materials, such as the Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Isolast® FoodPro® compounds, is important to prevent aroma carryover. In addition to this, these materials are also proven to be stable against the chemicals and high temperatures found in bottling lines, as well as possessing the approvals required for contact with foodstuffs."
The joint Trelleborg Sealing Solutions and Krones project will be featured at the upcoming Virtual Conference to be held by Trelleborg Sealing Solutions on November 25. Dr. Eva Beierle will be a guest speaker in the panel discussion “Engineering Towards a More Sustainable Future”.