How Energy Efficient is Food Production?

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UHSBrooksWhen most people go shopping, they probably aren’t thinking about how their favourite food actually got to the supermarket shelves. There are of course a number of different processes depending on the individual food. The food manufacturing industry is a massive one, with energy consumption to match. The various processes include heating and cooling of food products for safety and extended shelf life. It’s not surprising then that the UK food industry produces 9.5 megatonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

There have, in the last decade, been efforts to find ways of reducing the amount of energy used in food production. The National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering was created by Sheffield Hallam University, to encourage engineers into the area of finding solutions. One of its priorities has been the challenging issue of reducing waste energy. It’s a fact that there are more engineers working within the food industry than in the automotive and aerospace sectors combined.

Sheffield Hallam University’s vision is to be ‘the leading provider of applied research excellence delivering materials, computing, science and engineering innovations meeting the development needs of industry.’ Food engineering modules were added to many of the engineering courses on offer at the uni, to raise awareness among students. In 2019, a new £10m building was opened featuring professional grade facilities that could replicate a food production environment.

Major companies such as Nestlé and Aunt Bessie’s, have worked with the university on improving their own efficiency. Nestlé benefited with energy cost savings of £246,000 a year, and a lower carbon footprint. A new heat exchange system was designed and built for use when producing Aunt Bessie’s Yorkshire puddings. The product was so successful it was commercialised, bringing huge energy savings to industrial kitchens, factories and possibly restaurant chains.

Brookshaw Stuart have seen many advances during their long history working alongside the food processing industry. They pride themselves on their ability to welcome and overcome challenges, and on getting great results.

 

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