Process Operation

A description of the process is available at the Ventilex web site [35]. The process is a high-temperature/short-time treatment for herbs, spices, and seeds using saturated steam. Small particle products such as these tend to clump in valves and clog the process. This is prevented by using a continuous scraping action within the valve to dislodge any adhering product.

The treatment chamber is horizontal with a vibrating belt. The belt moves the material through the chamber in plug flow at a set speed to achieve the desired residence time. The frequency of the vibrating belt is variable and governs the flow rate that determines the dwell time for each product. Products are treated with saturated steam over the range 107 to 123°C. Typical treatment times are 25 to 50 seconds depending on the commodity, contamination level, and final use of the product. The treated product drops off the vibrating belt into a second rotary valve using the same scraping action. The herbs, spices, or seeds then go to a fluidized bed dryer/cooler. The condensed steam flashes off, and the herbs, spices, or seeds are dried with indirectly heated sterile air.

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