Nitrogen Generators for Nut Packaging
Nuts are a favourite snack food item across the globe. Often eaten in bars or as part of a snack spread at social gatherings, nuts are the ultimate ubiquitous food items that span numerous centuries of tradition and cultural norms. Preventing oxidation during the nut packaging and transportation process can be a little tricky, though.
Oxidation is when food products come into contact with oxygen that’s in the ambient air we breathe. Exposure to oxygen in ambient air speeds up the spoiling process of many foodstuffs including nuts. Nuts contain natural oils that negatively react with ambient air over time. By flushing ambient air out of nut packaging with nitrogen using nitrogen generators during the packaging process, the shelf life of the nuts can be greatly extended.
Why Nitrogen Is Used in Nut Packaging
Using nitrogen for nut and food packaging, a process called modified atmosphere packaging or MAP, will help retain food taste and freshness for longer periods of time. It safeguards edible food products against oxidation and moisture contamination by flushing the oxygen and moisture in ambient air from the package. Nitrogen is an inert gas and doesn’t react with natural food oils thereby preventing the natural nut oils from going rancid. Nitrogen is also very dry compared to ambient air. Therefore, there is no moisture in the package that can cause the product to go stale and lose freshness.
Another reason nitrogen is used is for marketing purposes. You might notice that most packaged food items are only about half full with the actual product and the other half is what appears to be air. Actually, for many snack food products, that’s nitrogen gas in the package, not air. In addition to preserving the shelf life of the packaged food, nitrogen gas also inflates the packaging, making it look more presentable and appealing to consumers on the shelf. It also helps protect the product in the packages from getting crushed.
Why Use Nitrogen Generators for Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) for Nuts
Nitrogen gas used for MAP has historically been supplied by conventional means such as cylinder nitrogen or bulk liquid nitrogen delivery The use of onsite nitrogen generators to supply nitrogen gas has become far more mainstream in the last 20 years. Why you may ask? There are three primary reasons.
- Onsite nitrogen generators are now a proven ultra-reliable, cost effective means of supplying nitrogen.
- Typical nitrogen purities required for MAP are 99% – 99.9%. This purity requirement is in the “sweet spot” for today’s PSA type nitrogen generators. Nitrogen produced with an onsite nitrogen generator in this purity range is a fraction of the cost of conventional nitrogen supply. In the USA or Canada the typical cost to produce nitrogen from a nitrogen generator is less then $0.10 per 100 CF or $0.03 per m. Compare this cost to what you’re currently paying for nitrogen.
- Food production including nut packaging is a very continuous process. Therefore nitrogen flows required for MAP are very steady. Nitrogen generators produce a steady flow of nitrogen at a give flow volume so this makes onsite nitrogen generators very well suited for this type of operation.
Determining Nitrogen Generator Size for Nut Packaging
Once this information is known a nitrogen generator can easily be sized for your operation.
Nitrogen Generating Systems for Food Packaging from Advanced Gas Technologies
Onsite nitrogen generators for certain segments of the food packaging industry make a lot of sense. Whether you’re producing dry food products such as potato chips, nuts, grains, coffee, or spices, producing your own nitrogen onsite can help you greatly reduce operational costs and decrease the size of your carbon footprint by eliminating nitrogen deliveries from conventional gas suppliers. It also ensures that you always have a readily available supply of nitrogen on demand whenever you need it and never have to worry about running out of nitrogen due to missed nitrogen deliveries.
At Advanced Gas Technologies, we offer state-of-the-art PSA and membrane nitrogen generators that can be custom designed according to the specifications of your facility and operations. Contact us to learn more.