Product and ingredient development trials: overcoming challenges in scaling-up the process
By Simon Penson - 20 February 2015
Developing new products and ingredients often begins with a small-scale bench-top exercise. A prototype is developed using laboratory or kitchen-scale equipment. If early evaluation proves positive, then a green light for further development is given.
The challenge then becomes: how to go from a small, experimental production run to produce enough material for plant trials and, eventually, consumer acceptance trails? This is loosely termed 'scale-up', and is more challenging than it may appear. The reason for this is both simple and complex. Simple, because the process approach used at bench top scale to produce a few grams of material may be impractical for production of kilogram quantities needed for the next steps. And complex, because the prototype resulting from the bench-top process may not be repeatable at plant-scale. This may be due to issues of engineering scale-up (e.g. heat transfer characteristics at large scale), or simply challenges in handling material on a larger scale.
Scale-up issues are typically overcome by using intermediate steps in the process of translation from bench-top to plant-scale processes. These may be at the level of a pilot-plant or, further into development, at the semi-works or demonstration works scale.
At Campden BRI we are investing in our ability to provide scale-up processes for product and ingredient development. We aim to bridge the gap between discovery and evaluation of first prototype to provide sufficient confidence to make commercial development decisions.
One area of activity is in roasting, be it for coffee, cocoa, nuts or grains. We have invested to broaden our range of roasting capabilities between our sites so that we now have roasters on the scale of 250g up to 10kg of material per batch. The three roasters we have operate using different heat-transfer mechanisms, and so we are able to model most roasting processes and address scale-up issues at the same time. Sufficient material for a range of trials can be produced quickly and efficiently.
Another area of activity is in separation technology. We are well served with a range of dry grinding, sieving and separating technologies. We have also recently invested in wet separation technology with a disk stack separator and a range of filtration equipment. Further investment in solute separation is planned.
We aim to provide a flexible capability to facilitate development trials from bench-top evaluation to pilot scale production, supported by a dedicated team of scientists, engineers and technicians. We are happy to discuss your requirements for scale-up and further development.