More efficient milk and juices pasteurization and homogenization thanks to space bubbles.
The ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Lazio start-up company Wixta exploits the particular hydrodynamic cavitation phenomenon.
The cavitation is the formation of vapour cavities – small liquid-free "bubbles" in a liquid – that are the consequence of forces acting upon the liquid. They usually are formed when a liquid is subjected to rapid pressure changes. When put under a subsequent higher pressure the cavities collapse and release large amount of energy which can generate intense shock waves. This is most often an undesirable occurrence, in particular for mechanical machinery like propellers and pumps, where it causes a great deal of noise, possible damage to components, vibrations, and a loss of efficiency.
Several ESA parabolic flights were aimed at investigating the dynamics and energetics of cavitation bubbles, in order to unravel the physical laws governing cavitation erosion in hydraulic systems and propellers.
However, Wixta is taking advantage especially of this particular phenomenon as it also shows to be an effective method for fluid purification and disinfection. In fact, lab tests have demonstrated that it can remove chemical and organic components from liquids, including virtually achieve complete disinfection up to 99.99% by killing bacteria and viruses.
During its incubation at ESA BIC Lazio, initially the company studied the feasibility of two application: treatment and sterilization of liquids, and treatment of fluid food product - like milk, juice and purees - to achieve pasteurization and monogenisation of the liquids. Later Wixta transformed the lab scale test device to a pre-industrial one, by optimizing the rotors’ profile generating the effect of cavitation, the materials, the control and the best operating conditions.
Together with a group of companies, Wixta produced under the EC FP7 R&D contract “Fluid Foods Pasteurizer and Homogeniser based on Centrifugal Hydrocavitator Reactor ” (FCHR) a first prototype, currently under test at the University College of Cork, Ireland.
Christian Isopo, Wixta CEO, presents the company's centrifugal rotary device for heating and/or vaporising liquids using exactly the hydrodynamic cavitation phenomenon.
More about Wixta here (with link to http://www.wixta.com)
More on the technology and FCHR here (with link to http://www.fchrtechnology.com/ )
More about ESA's Business Incubation Centres here (with link to http://www.esa.int/bic)