At PACK EXPO Las Vegas, Serac introduced its new BluStream® sterilization technology, a low-energy e-beam treatment that can be administered at room temperature. Noted the company, the technology is capable of ensuring a 6-log bacteriological reduction in only 0.3 to 0.5 sec per side, allowing it to be used in aseptic packaging.
BluStream technology can be applied to a range of cap materials—high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, PET, or polypropylene among them—as well as aluminum and virtually any bottle size. BluStream is used for high-acid products such as fruit juices, as well as low-acid products such as teas, UHT milks, milk-based drinks, and milk substitutes. The module is intended for use on bottling lines of non-refrigerated and ESL 90-day beverages.
E-beam is a physical dry treatment. To sterilize the surface, e-beam dispenses a beam of electrons over the surface of the product. The electrons quickly destroy the microorganisms by breaking their DNA chains. Serac noted that its BluStream module stands out in the aseptic packaging market, as it uses low-energy electron beams that do not penetrate the treated material. In addition, it will not affect the internal structure of the cap.
Explained Serac, unlike APA and H2O2 solutions, BluStream does not use any chemicals and does not require high temperatures. This allows it to avoid any chemical residue and any distortion of the caps. The e-beam treatment depends on only three, easy-to-control critical parameters: voltage, current intensity, and exposure time. By comparison, H2O2 sterilization depends on seven critical parameters.
Bacteriological reduction is ensured as soon as the cap has been exposed to the recommended dose of electrons. Sterilization is confirmed in real-time, which Serac said is not possible with chemical laboratory tests. This allows products to be released and shipped quickly, reducing stock.
Compared to chemical sterilization solutions, the BluStream cap sterilization module is compact, occupying 3 sq m of floorspace. It allows continuous decontamination of 6 log inside the cap and 3 log outside the cap, with an output up to 900 units/min. The module can be integrated on all ESL and aseptic bottling lines.
Serac added that the BluStream also brings environmental benefits that will lower the environmental footprint. It doesn’t require water, heating, or steam. By eliminating these requirements, it consumes little energy and does not generate toxic waste.