Our customers are continually looking for packaging and processing solutions that will help lower their costs and reduce their impact on the environment. Our long-range investments in developing new technologies and new products helps them achieve those goals.
Our long-term and life cycle perspective on technology development is exemplified by a success story from 2015 – one that is expected to create sustainable added value for decades to come.
A new technology from Tetra Pak based on electronic emissions – called eBeam – is providing a paradigm shift in sterilising packaging materials. For over 50 years, the dominant technology at Tetra Pak for sterilising packaging material for long-life ambient distribution was immersion in a liquid bath of hot hydrogen peroxide. This is a relatively simple process because it can be controlled by varying concentration, temperature and time of immersion.
But the technology can’t keep up with demands for faster and faster machines; concentration and temperature are already at a realistic maximum, and prolonging immersion time would significantly increase the quantity of peroxide needed, making it difficult to remove peroxide residues after the bath, and limiting the maximum speed achievable.
Some years ago, therefore, the company started looking at alternative, non-chemical sterilisation technologies and in 2000 began exploring the use of electron beam emitters, which were already well-established in other industries, but had never been used in beverage carton applications. After several years of development, in June 2015 the company launched the Tetra Pak E3, the world’s first filling machine that uses electron beams, not hydrogen peroxide, to sterilise the packaging material, delivering significant advantages in terms of speed, environmental profile and energy consumption.
With eBeam technology in a Tetra Pak® E3 machine, sterilisation can be controlled as a continuously adjustable process, by changing the eBeam dose – the number of electrons hitting the package – like turning up the brightness on a TV. And the machine speed can be varied independently of the dose, allowing much higher speeds. At the same time, operating costs may be reduced by up to 20%.
We designed a common eBeam solution that could cover all possible applications, with minimal changes. Moreover, because products for chilled, chilled with extended shelf life (ESL) and ambient distribution require different degrees of sterilisation, with traditional hydrogen peroxide sterilisation, each required its own specific filling machine design. With eBeam, one machine design will cover all applications, allowing customers to run chilled or ESL chilled production on the same machine, with just minor modifications. In the future, it will also be available for ambient production.
To date, the company has placed more than a dozen Tetra Pak E3 machines with eBeam in field tests around the world, including some running fast (15,000 pieces/hour) and ultra-fast (40,000 pieces/hour).
Customer acceptance is high, with industry awards to match: the 2015 Gold Medal Sustainability Award from Packaging Europe and The World Beverage Innovation award 2015 from FoodBev for Best Manufacturing/Processing Innovation.
Maximum capacity of up to
portion packs per hour
increase in capacity compared to Tetra Pak®A3/Speed for portion packages
Opportunity to save as much as
in operational cost due to the improved efficiency
Tetra Pak® E3 has taken a modular approach in it’s design. This allows customers to move from pasteurised filling to extended shelf life production by simply installing an eBeam kit enabling customers to easily switch between pasteurised or ESL production orders on the same machine.
Use of eBeam instead of H2O means
and packaging and product waste is
electricity saving from H2O2 preheating heating and drying can be as much as
based on pilot tests at customer sites