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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development of New Infrared Dry-peeling System for Tomatoes

Location: Healthy Processed Foods Research

Project Number: 2030-41000-063-01
Project Type: Specific Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 29, 2011
End Date: Jun 30, 2014

Objective:
Our objective for this project is to build and evaluate a prototype continuous IR dry-peeling system for peeling tomatoes. The specific objectives are to: 1) Develop, design and build a prototype continuous IR peeling system for tomatoes. The system will include feeding, IR heating, vacuum skin releasing and peel removal sections; 2) Test the efficacy of the new peeling system using tomatoes and evaluate the effect of various processing parameters of the IR heating (IR intensity, heating time, emitter configuration) on the peeling performance of the system and product quality; and 3) Work with Precision Canning Equipment Co., related food processors and CLFP to transfer the new peeling technology into commercialization. The advisory board has recommended that we conduct on-site demonstrations during the coming season after some minor modifications of the IR peeling system are completed. It was observed that the heating time could be reduced and the product quality improved by further perfecting the system. Therefore, the objectives of this research project are as follows: (1) Perform modifications on the IR heating section of the system to achieve improved fruit conveyance and heating efficiency. (2) Move the equipment to one or more tomato processing facilities and conduct on-site side by side comparison and demonstration among lye, steam, and IR peeling.

Approach:
The objective for this project is for the IR dry-peeling system to be designed, built and evaluated. The indicators for the peeling performance and product quality will include peeling rate, peeling loss, and color change and firmness of peeled tomatoes respectively. The process parameters of IR-dry peeling will include IR intensity, configuration of IR emitter, and heating time for achieving the uniform heating on tomato surface. The IR peeling section will be expected to take advantage of the shape of a parallel assembly of tubular electric IR heaters with variable heat control capability to regulate IR intensity. The exposure time of tomatoes to IR heat is expected to be regulated by automatic speed control of a tomato conveyor as it passes between the parallel IR emitters. We will select popular tomato varieties for performing the study. The research results from this project are expected to provide design guidelines for large IR dry-peeling system. All results will be analyzed for statistical significance. The research aims to further th goal of commercializing the new peeling technology. Documents SCA with Precision Canning Equipment. We will work with Precision Canning Equipment to modify the bi-cone roller profile and re-align the conveyor to ensure that heat from the IR emitters is uniformly delivered to the tomatoes. The arrangement of the emitters will be adjusted according to the emissive power of emitters in order to avoid over- or under-heating. The emitters will be equipped with additional features to monitor current drawn and emitter surface temperature during the peeling operation. The added features will monitor the emitter performance. In addition, we will modify the control system to ensure variable frequency drive for the conveyor motor, upgrade the motor starter and control for vacuum pump, fit stainless steel supports for the VFD and starter, install drive safety guard on conveyor, re-align the vacuum pump and adjust the roller assembly accordingly. The modifications and additional control and monitoring features will improve the system performance, ensure efficient energy use and deliver high quality products. After performing the modifications, the IR peeling system will be moved to one or more tomato processing facilities to conduct side by side comparison and demonstration of IR, lye and steam peeling. Multiple aspects, including the peeling performance, peeled product quality, peeling capacity, system energy and water efficiency will be studied. The implementation of the above mentioned steps is essential to ensure smooth and successful transition and adaptation of the new technology from its current pilot scale to an industrial scale system.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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