When we are wandering through the grocery store aisles, the last thing on our mind is the number of processes all of that food went through before it was eligible for supply. Whether it is cereals, cookies, canned fruit or pastries, every food item that is seen on shelves has either been steamed, dehydrated, pasteurized and processed to fit into boxes, cans and packages.
Each of those processes require a wide range of valves especially for managing steam which is the most critical component in food processing. Since the safety of this supply is constantly at risk, steam has to be regulated which can be challenging for valves and control systems.
How they are used
Ball valves that are used in the food and beverage industry can be divided into two groups. The first are those that can come into direct contact with food and the second are those that are used in utility services such as water and steam.
Even though both types of valves are regulated, the first one undergoes stringent checks since it is touching the food directly. The smallest missed contaminant could compromise the supply which can result in costly recalls.
Types of Steam Used
High pressure ball valves are specifically used to regulate steam supply in food and beverage factories. There are several grades of steam that are used in food processing and each has its own risk of contamination.
Plant steam for instance is considered to have the lowest steam grade but it is also highly prone to contamination as well. This is determined by a number of different factors such as:
- The contaminants present in the raw water that is used in boilers
- If the boiler is being operated correctly
- If cross contamination is imminent from other processes
- The chemicals used in processing
Filtered steam on the other hand, is considered safer than plant steam because it passes through a very fine stainless steel filter. Clean steam is also considered to be the highest grade of steam in the food and beverage industry and which is used in quality critical processes.
Irrespective of the type of steam used in food processes, ball valves are still needed to regulate their supply and to ensure quality does not deteriorate. It also regulates the velocity of the steam and in case of excess can be used to shut down supply in certain pipe sections rather than the entire pipeline.
The SEALEXCEL Advantage
At SEALEXCEL, we use state of the art technology to create ball valves that are designed specifically for this purpose. All of our products are compatible with ISO 9001:2008, PED 97/23/EC and ATEX 94/9/EC. Check out our product line today.